Alex Ross (music critic)

Last updated

Alex Ross
Alex Ross @ Chicago Humanities festival (cropped).png
Alex Ross at Chicago Humanities Festival in 2008
Born1968 (age 5253)
Alma mater St. Albans School, Harvard University
Employer The New Yorker
Spouse(s) Jonathan Lisecki

Alex Ross (born 1968) is an American music critic. He has been on the staff of The New Yorker magazine since 1996, and he has written the books The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century (2007), Listen to This (2011), and Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music (2020).



Ross is a 1986 graduate of St. Albans School in Washington, D.C., having previously attended the Potomac School in McLean, Virginia. He is a 1990 graduate of Harvard University, where he studied under composer Peter Lieberson and was a DJ on the classical and underground rock departments of the college radio station, WHRB. He earned a Harvard A.B. in English summa cum laude for a thesis on James Joyce.

Journalism career

From 1992 to 1996 Ross was a music critic at The New York Times . He also wrote for The New Republic , Slate , the London Review of Books , Lingua Franca , Fanfare and Feed . He first contributed to The New Yorker in 1993 and became a staff writer in 1996.


His first book, The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century , a cultural history of music since 1900, was released in the U.S. in 2007 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux and in the U.K. in 2008. The book received widespread critical praise in the U.S., garnering a National Book Critics Circle Award, a spot on The New York Times list of the ten best books of 2007, and a finalist citation for the Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction. The book was also shortlisted for the 2008 Samuel Johnson Prize for nonfiction. [1]

His second book, Listen to This, was released in the U.S. in September 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux and was published in the U.K. in November 2010. In September 2020, his third book Wagnerism came out. [2]


He has received a MacArthur Fellowship, [3] three ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards for music writing, and a Holtzbrinck fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin. In 2012 he received the Belmont Prize for Contemporary Music at the pèlerinages Art Festival in Weimar. In 2016, he was awarded the Champion of New Music award by the American Composers Forum. [4]

Personal life

Alex Ross married director Jonathan Lisecki in Canada in 2006. [5] [6]


Related Research Articles

National Book Critics Circle Award Annual American literary awards

The National Book Critics Circle Awards are a set of annual American literary awards by the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) to promote "the finest books and reviews published in English". The first NBCC awards were announced and presented January 16, 1976.

Louis Menand is an American critic, essayist, and professor, best known for his Pulitzer-winning book The Metaphysical Club (2001), an intellectual and cultural history of late 19th and early 20th century America.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux American book publishing company

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (FSG) is an American book publishing company, founded in 1946 by Roger Williams Straus Jr. and John C. Farrar. FSG is known for publishing literary books, and its authors have won numerous awards, including Pulitzer Prizes, National Book Awards, and Nobel Peace Prizes. The publisher is currently a division of Macmillan, whose parent company is the German publishing conglomerate Holtzbrinck Publishing Group.

Frederick Seidel is an American poet.

Alice McDermott American writer, novelist, essayist (born 1953)

Alice McDermott is an American writer and university professor. For her 1998 novel Charming Billy she won an American Book Award and the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction.

Charles Wright (poet) American writer; University of Virginia professor

Charles Wright is an American poet. He shared the National Book Award in 1983 for Country Music: Selected Early Poems and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1998 for Black Zodiac. From 2014 to 2015, he served as the 50th Poet Laureate of the United States.

Jane Kramer is an American journalist who is the European correspondent for The New Yorker; she has written a regular "Letter from Europe" for twenty years. Kramer has also written nine books, the latest of which, Lone Patriot (2003), is about a militia in the American West. Her other books include The Last Cowboy, Europeans and The Politics of Memory.

C. K. Williams

Charles Kenneth "C. K." Williams was an American poet, critic and translator. Williams won many poetry awards. Flesh and Blood won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1987. Repair (1999) won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, was a National Book Award finalist and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. The Singing won the National Book Award, 2003 and in 2005 Williams received the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. The 2012 film Tar related aspects of Williams' life using his poetry.

Philip Gourevitch American journalist

Philip Gourevitch, an American author and journalist, is a longtime staff writer for The New Yorker and a former editor of The Paris Review. His most recent book is The Ballad of Abu Ghraib (2008), an account of Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison under the American occupation. He became widely known for his first book, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families (1998), which tells the story of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Carl Phillips American writer and poet (born 1959)

Carl Phillips is an American writer and poet. He is a Professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis.

Héctor Tobar American journalist

Héctor Tobar is a Los Angeles author and journalist, whose work examines the evolving and interdependent relationship between Latin America and the United States.

Vivian Gornick

Vivian Gornick is a radical feminist American critic, journalist, essayist, and memoirist.

Paul Elie American writer and editor

Paul Elie is an American writer and editor.

Eliza Griswold

Eliza Griswold is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist and poet. Griswold is currently a contributing writer to The New Yorker and a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University. She is the author of “Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America,” a 2018 New York Times Notable Book and a Times Critics’ Pick, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction and the Ridenhour Book Prize in 2019. Griswold was a fellow at the New America Foundation from 2008 to 2010 and won a 2010 Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She is a former Nieman Fellow, a current Berggruen Fellow at Harvard Divinity School, and has been published in The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, and the New York Times Magazine.

Hill & Wang is an American book publishing company focused on American history, world history, and politics. It is a division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Hilton Als is an American writer and theater critic. He is an associate professor of writing at Columbia University and a staff writer and theater critic for The New Yorker magazine. He is a former staff writer for The Village Voice and former editor-at-large at Vibe magazine.

Christian Wiman is an American poet and editor born in 1966 and raised in the small west Texas town of Snyder. He graduated from Washington and Lee University and has taught at Northwestern University, Stanford University, Lynchburg College in Virginia, and the Prague School of Economics. In 2003, he became editor of the oldest American magazine of verse, Poetry, a role he stepped down from in June 2013. Wiman now teaches Literature and Religion at Yale University and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music.

<i>The Rest Is Noise</i>

The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century is a 2007 nonfiction book by the American music critic Alex Ross, first published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. It received widespread critical praise in the U.S. and Europe, garnering a National Book Critics Circle Award, a Guardian First Book Award, a Premio Napoli, and the 2011 Grand Prix des Muses. The Rest is Noise also had a spot on the New York Times list of the ten best books of 2007, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. The book was also shortlisted for the 2008 Samuel Johnson Prize for nonfiction.

A list of the published works of music critic Alex Ross.

Ben Ratliff is an American journalist, music critic and author.


  1. "BBC Four – 2008 Shortlist for Samuel Johnson Prize".
  2. Dirda, Michael (November 3, 2020). "If ever there was a moment for Richard Wagner, it is 2020". The Washington Post . Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  3. David Kelly (September 23, 2008). "MacArthurs, Parked". The New York Times (blog). Papercuts. Archived from the original on April 23, 2009. Retrieved March 24, 2009.
  4. "Just Why Does New Music Need Champions?" by Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times , November 4, 2016
  5. Bonanos, Christopher (November 7, 2007). "You'll happily be taken along for the ride". The Guardian . Retrieved August 12, 2008.
  6. The Canadian Civil Marriage Act 2005 permits same-sex marriage.

Preceded by
Paul Griffiths
Music Critic of The New Yorker
Succeeded by