- May 26 & 27 - All libraries CLOSED for Memorial Day
Alex Ross’ The Rest Is Noise could be considered as one of the most important and comprehesive survey of modern music in recent history. The author looks back more than 100 years, starting from Richard Strauss and Gustave Mahler of Vienna in the transitional period of 19th and the following century. Readers will be amazed by the amounts of information on the composers’ lives, styles, and contemporaries. Intriguing stories of eccentricities and scandals revolving towering figures such as Sibelius, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Britten, etc. sometimes read like tabloids, but give significant insights into their creativity and long-lasting influences. Sporadic musical analyses (such as ones for Strauss’ Salome and Britten’s Peter Grimes,) remind readers of CD liner notes. Chronically arranged, the book starts with the German masters of Berlin and Vienna at the end of 19th century, then to Stravinsky and the Serialists (Schoenberg, Webern, Berg), nationalists (Bartók, Sibelius, Copland), to the suppressed (Shostakovitch, Prokofiev), minimalists (Young, Reich, Stockhausen), and latest contemporaries (Adams, Pärt, Glass.) In 623 pages, The Rest Is Noise is quite fun to read and offers readers of all levels and expertises a concise but clear and complete understanding of modern music.
* Read more about 20th-Century Music
* Check out Listen To This by Alex Ross
Robert Schumann : Life and Death of a Musician by John Worthen
More than any other books, John Worthen’s biography brings readers closer to Schumann, the man behind a composer and pianist. Without a single music example, this book focuses on various intimate insights into the romantic composer’s life from his wild rebellious youth, to his fairytale romance with Clara Wieck, to outbursts of creativity in middle-age, and to his ultimate death at the age of 46.
The author’s overall objective is to dispel traditional misconceptions on the links of Schumann’s final mental illness with his musical creativity and characters. Worthen also successfully demystifies the image of Schumann as a Romantic who suffered chronic depression. Based almost entirely on the composer’s and his wife’s diaries, accompanied by doctors’ notes and autopsy reports, this book provides an incredibly true and detailed life accounts of a genius filled with challenges and untimely death.
With an intriguingly narrative style, Worthen book reads sometimes like an Austen’s novel that will never fail to move readers with its beautiful love story of Robert and Clara Schumann during their struggles for marriage (Clara’s father fiercely opposed the union) and final separation at Endenich mental institution. This book may not belong on the musicologist’s shelves, but it is a marvelous gift to anyone who loves Schumann and simply wants to learn the true story of his life.
A reminder: 2010 is Schumann's bicentennial!