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Music is always migrating from its point of origin to its destiny in someone's fleeting moment of experience.

ALEX ROSS, preface, The Rest Is Noise

The best kind of classical performance is not a retreat into the past but an intensification of the present. The mistake that apostles of the classical have always made is to have joined their love of the past to a dislike of the present. The music has other ideas: it hates the past and wants to escape.

ALEX ROSS, Listen to This

Articulating the connection between music and the outer world remains devilishly difficult. Musical meaning is vague, mutable, and, in the end, deeply personal. Still, even if history can never tell us exactly what music means, music can tell us something about history.

ALEX ROSS, preface, The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century

It is one thing to get all the notes right; any number of unsocialized conservatory prodigies can do that. It is another thing to play the thoughts within the notes, the light around them, the darkness behind them, the silence at the end of the phrase. That is what inspires awe.

ALEX ROSS, "The Art of Fantasy," The New Yorker, Mar. 17, 2003

The best music is the music that persuades us that there is no other music in the world.

ALEX ROSS, Listen to This

Classical music is widely mocked as a stuck-up, sissified, intrinsically un-American pursuit. The most conspicuous music lover in modern Hollywood film is the fey serial killer Hannibal Lecter, moving his bloody fingers in time to the Goldberg Variations.

ALEX ROSS, The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century

Classical music is stereotyped as an art of the dead, a repertory that begins with Bach and terminates with Mahler and Puccini. People are sometimes surprised to learn that composers are still writing at all.

ALEX ROSS, preface, The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century

[Classical] music is always dying, ever-ending. It is like an ageless diva on a nonstop farewell tour, coming around for one absolutely final appearance.

ALEX ROSS, Listen to This


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