« Weekend in Review: Chesapeake Chamber Opera performs 'Hansel and Gretel' | Main | Indisposition season strikes early, affecting soloist for Baltimore Symphony program »

November 1, 2010

Alex Ross, author of 'The Rest is Noise,' to visit Baltimore on book tour for 'Listen to This'

Alex Ross, music critic of the New Yorker for the past 14 years, is easily one of the most engaging, informative, thought-provoking writers in the business. The only thing I hate about him is that I don't feel like ever writing about music again after I read his work.

In a field crawling with condescension, Ross never writes down to anybody. And, while some critics seem to have never truly, deeply loved music, he never disguises his intense love for it.

His bestseller from 2007, "The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century," was an instant classic, an analysis filled with sparks of info and insight. During his book tour promoting that work, Ross stopped by An die Musk in a presentation of the Evolution Contemporary Music Series.

On Tuesday, he returns to the same venue under the same auspices to discuss and sign copies of his latest book, "Listen to This," an arresting collection of pieces from the New Yorker (some of them revised) and some freshly written material.

You can open to any page of his book and

become instantly absorbed, whether Ross is dissecting a historically reverberant bass line or the reasons for Marian Anderson's lasting fame, delving into Bjork or Kurt Cobain, peering into the soul of Schubert or explaining the force of Verdi (and cogently pointing out how some deconstructionist stage directors have muted, rather than recharged, that force).

Complete with recommended recordings, "Listen to This" reconfirms just how valuable Alex Ross is to the musical discourse of our times. His previous appearance on the Evolution Contemporary Music Series at An die Musik Tuesday night was a standing-room-only affair; I imagine this one will be, too.


Posted by Tim Smith at 3:20 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
View the Artsmash blog

Baltimore Sun coverage
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Marin Alsop
Famous faces in classical music
Sign up for FREE entertainment alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for nightlife text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Weekend Watch newsletter
Plan your weekend with's best events, restaurant and movie reviews, TV picks and more delivered to you every Thursday for free.
See a sample | Sign up

Most Recent Comments
Stay connected