Alex Ross (music critic)

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) and Listen to This (2011).

Alex Ross
Alex Ross at Chicago Humanities Festival in 2008
Born1968 (age 5051)
Alma materSt. Albans School, Harvard University
EmployerThe New Yorker
Spouse(s)Jonathan Lisecki


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.


He has received a MacArthur Fellowship,[2] 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.[3]

Personal life

Alex Ross married director Jonathan Lisecki in Canada in 2006.[4][5]



  1. "BBC Four – 2008 Shortlist for Samuel Johnson Prize".
  2. David Kelly (23 September 2008). "MacArthurs, Parked". The New York Times (blog). Papercuts. Archived from the original on 23 April 2009. Retrieved 24 March 2009.
  3. "Just Why Does New Music Need Champions?" by Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times, November 4, 2016
  4. Bonanos, Christopher (November 7, 2007). "You'll happily be taken along for the ride". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-08-12.
  5. The Canadian Civil Marriage Act 2005 permits same-sex marriage.
Preceded by
Paul Griffiths
Music Critic of The New Yorker
Succeeded by
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