Art & Letters Live Presents Alex Ross, music critic for the New Yorker

Arts & Letters Live: Artful Musings Series
Tuesday, February 10, 2009. 7:30 p.m.
General Admission: $32-$37.00
Horchow Auditorium, Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood Street, Dallas, TX 75201

Alex RossFrom Dallas Museum of Art
Alex Ross, the music critic for the New Yorker, received the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award for his landmark book The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century. It was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and was selected as one of the New York Times 10 Best Books of 2007.

This fall Ross was awarded a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant.” The Rest Is Noise is a voyage into the labyrinth of modern music, which remains an obscure world for most people. While paintings of Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock sell for a hundred million dollars or more, and lines from T. S. Eliot are quoted on the yearbook pages of teenagers everywhere, twentieth-century classical music still sends ripples of unease through audiences. At the same time, its influence can be felt everywhere. Atonal chords crop up in jazz. Avant-garde sounds populate the soundtracks of Hollywood thrillers. The narrative goes from Vienna before the First World War to Paris in the twenties, from Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia to downtown New York in the sixties and seventies.

Lev Grossman of Time magazine said, “Ross is a supremely gifted writer who brings the political and technological richness of the world inside the magic circle of the concert hall, so that each illuminates the other.”

The end result is not so much a history of twentieth-century music as a history of the twentieth century through its music. Musicians ranging from Bjצrk to Emanuel Ax have hailed it as “utterly nourishing” and a “masterpiece;” Ax went on to say, “In words that are beautiful, passionate, witty, and utterly compelling, Alex Ross has written a true rarity—a book about music that makes you want to run and listen to every note he talks about.”

At this event, Ross will incorporate works of art from the Museum’s collections into his discussion.

“The title I chose . . . played off Hamlet’s last words (“The rest is silence”) and, more widely, the perception that classical composition devolved into noise as the twentieth century went on.” —Alex Ross

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