Book Club: The Rest Is Noise

TLDR: Join a group of your fellow music enthusiasts as we read “The Rest is Noise” by Alex Ross, listen to the works from the book and discuss our findings with each other.

LR: As my journey of system building comes (hopefully) to a state of stability, I have been struggling with the idea of how to give back to the forum that was so helpful to me. Here is what I have come up with.

We will work as a group through the book “The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century”. We will start June 1st, and average 10 pages a day to finish in August with a new appreciation and understanding for many kinds of music. What this book is: an overview of many types of music, mostly from the “classical” genres. What this book isn’t: an in-depth dive into the obscure, the bleeding edge, or the esoteric. The table of contents is available to view here.

Your commitment: Purchase or otherwise obtain access to a copy of “The Rest is Noise”. Post once a week in this thread about the readings and listenings from the week. Read, engage and banter with your fellow music lovers as you see fit.

Your promise: To try and complete the book on schedule. To support those that are also trying. To keep the discussion appropriate, civil, and hopefully, meaningful or interesting. To be curious.

There are about 3 weeks before the starting line, so please add your ideas, thoughts or liberally apply the mute button!

May 24th - THE GOLDEN AGE: Mahler, Strauss, and the Fin de Siècle - Book Club: The Rest Is Noise - #22 by mfadio
May 31st - DOCTOR FAUST: Schoenberg, Debussy, and Atonality - Book Club: The Rest Is Noise - #46 by mfadio
June 7th - DANCE OF THE EARTH: The Rite, the Folk, le Jazz
June 14th- INVISIBLE MEN: American Composers from Ives to Ellington
June 21st - APPARITION FROM THE WOODS: The Loneliness of Jean Sibelius
June 28th - CITY OF NETS: Berlin in the Twenties

July 5th - THE ART OF FEAR: Music in Stalin’s Russia
July 12th - MUSIC FOR ALL: Music in FDR’s America
July 19th - DEATH FUGUE: Music in Hitler’s Germany
July 26th - ZERO HOUR: The U.S. Army and German Music, 1945-1949

August 2nd - BRAVE NEW WORLD: The Cold War and the Avant-Garde of the Fifties
August 9th - “GRIMES! GRIMES!”: The Passion of Benjamin Britten
August 16th - ZION PARK: Messiaen, Ligeti, and the Avant-Garde of the Sixties
August 23rd - BEETHOVEN WAS WRONG: Bebop, Rock, and the Minimalists
August 30th - SUNKEN CATHEDRALS: Music at Century’s End


The author’s page with further information about The Rest is Noise

Book FAQ

Book Review (Guardian)

Book Review (Los Angeles Times)


A short playlist for The Rest Is Noise .

An audio enhanced glossary.


@mfadio - Just read the first couple of pages. I’m in.


It’s a GREAT read. !@#$%^&


Just ordered it from my library.

One suggestion. If this turns into a popular thread and spawns more book clubs, would it make sense to come up with a standard naming convention like “Book Club: xyz” to make them easier to find?


Optimism! Love the idea.

Another thought I had was that we may also make listening groups at some point. Much like how the classical music thread is currently on a Mahler kick, there might be interest in guided exploration of a genre, composer, or piece.


What if I want to return the book? :wink:

Seriously, I would love to, but based on the sample of this book, I probably won’t actually stay committed. Listened to some of the music mentioned though!

I may follow along. I love the idea of a book club. Just not sure my attention span is capable of it at the moment.


I feel like I cheated on the classical thread by listening to Shostakovich last night.

I like this idea. I should kindle this literature and see what commitment is needed to participate.

Good on you for attempting to get us to read!


Same. Not this summer, when I can finally go back out into the world and do things. I’ll be cheering you all on from the sidelines, though!


If this goes well, or if people are interested, I’m sure there will be another. And if I do this one right the guide will still work for someone reading months later.


I’m in, if no one minds. I’ve been meaning to read this book for yonks. (I promise not to use words like “yonks” in future posts to the thread).

Great idea @mfadio, thank you!

Edit: I’ve also been meaning to read Absolutely on Music in which the novelist Haruki Murakami has an extensive conversation with Seiji Ozawa, the former conductor of the Boston SO. There’s a spotify playlist out there of the music discussed in the book. I don’t mean for us to get ahead of ourselves but this might be a future reading, if there’s interest.


1). Au contraire, “Yonks” will now be required in each of your posts on this thread.
2). Welcome!
3). Murakami book added to pile. Huge Murakami fan. Can’t wait.


Likewise - and thanks to Murakami I’ve found a bunch of great music over the years (Duke Ellington’s Such Sweet Thunder being one example).

Thanks for having me - and thank you again for this great idea!



I’m in, just bought the book. Great :bulb:


TLDR: Check the first post for updates!

Since I do not have god like powers, and this is just a forum, not a specialized piece of software, the first post will get the major updates. As we progress I will also add linked markers to the beginning of each weeks conversation.


@Tchoupitoulas - Murakami also writes about record collecting in “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running”.


Thank you, I’ve not read it yet, and that’s good to know.


I’m in. Thanks for this excellent idea.

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Alright, I just got my copy of The Rest is Noise. Looking forward to reading it and to compiling an accompanying qobuz playlist!

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@mfadio , are we officially starting June 1 or May 24?