Author: Alex Ross
Rating: 5 Stars
Review By: Shana
This is surely the decisive history of 20th century orchestral music. Ross showcases an encyclopedic knowledge of 20th century composition, which is nicely complemented by his thorough and insightful research into the cultural, social, and political history each of the composers sprouted from.
He weaves his way around the world and through various schools of composition, highlighting the composers and their works whether romantics or modernists, post-modernists or jazz (and in that swing or bebop), impressionistic or twelve tone. The book has a corresponding website that lives on with continuing blogposts, links to works, suggested listening, and the like. Being able to turn to the website to actually hear the works being discussed is a boon to the reader/listener.
Though Ross obviously wants laypeople to enjoy his work, this book is probably best for readers who already have at least some familiarity with the classical repertoire and is made much richer by knowledge of (or at least taking the time to listen to) the works discussed.
An eye-opening and educational book, an introduction to the realities and politics (both at the governmental and international levels, as well as within the musical community) that gave rise to much of the music of the last century. Well worth the time of any lover of orchestral music.