alex ross is one of the few remaining music critics for a major american periodical (there used to be many more, but it's a dwindling profession/art), in his case, the new yorker. he attends a concert more than once if possible, with the score and without, in order to both understand the music and feel it. and he's young, so his ears aren't burdened with decades of ear wax, "received wisdom," archaic prejudice, etc.how rare is it to ever find anyone who can write about music!? (an impossible challenge on the face of it, if one is going to say anything more than technical data like, "... the dotted sixteenths in bar25 mirror the attenuated chromatic intonation ..." etc etc)his grasp of the material is sure; his writing is tonic, refreshing; his insights are sharp; his tone, fresh. he's on the dime.he's been working on this book for some time and finally it's out. (there are a few inevitable repetitions here and there, in stitching the whole thing together, but — hey!)hands-down, THE best book on 20th-century Western music you'll ever find in THIS one.AND you can enhance your reading by visiting his website, where he's posted representative selections, for each chapter, as well as his always lively bloghear, here!