This essay, a discussion of female composers and their scandalous lack of representation in the concert repertory, is beautifully written and incredibly smart. Inevitably, whenever I read anything by Alex Ross, my favorite living music critic, I am dazzled and overwhelmed by his crazy talent. When I have a writing deadline looming, I can’t even read anything under his byline because he makes me feel like I, along with almost every other music writer working today, should just STFU.
I could pick any passage at random to support my case for his brilliance, but this sentence I loved particularly: “In the end, these works evoke a universal desire: to seek beauty in shards of a damaged world, or failing that, to take shelter in silence.”
Here is a wonderful essay about piano lessons by my other favorite living music writer, the glamorous and hilarious concert pianist Jeremy Denk. Unfortunately, I don’t think you can read the whole thing if you don’t subscribe to The New Yorker. (You probably should subscribe, by the way.) In addition to being a great pianist, Denk is among the smartest, funniest, and most entertaining music writers alive. His talent is unfair and obscene. I highly recommend all his recordings. His CD of Bach partitas is astonishingly great, and I’m also very fond of the Charles Ives one and his collaboration with the violinist Joshua Bell, French Impressions. He has a brand-new CD for sale featuring works by Beethoven and Ligeti, but I haven’t bought that one yet. I’m sure I will love it, too.