Its like escaping into some wide-open empty landscape, he says. Theres almost a spiritual dimension to the experience. At its best, it can be like religion without dogmathe feeling of a bigger presence looming above you, requiring nothing but a certain stillness. Theres this great notion at the New Yorker that any topic, no matter how obscure, can be made interesting or made comprehensible, he says. Classical music fit in very well with that. He preferred having space to write about both music and the culture surrounding it. Discouraged, he applied for graduate school again in 1993. This time he got into Harvard and nearly returned to Cambridge, but an experience writing a book review for the. He first aired some of the ideas that appear in his book while an undergraduate English concentrator who spent an ungodly amount of time at whrb, the student radio station. During his junior and senior years, Ross hosted a program called. You dont need to seize the readers attention at the beginning of chapter seven. The first draft, completed in 2005 after four years of work, was a whopping 390,000 words long. He coughs; people glare. He applauds at the end of a movement; people glare again. Ross worries that the concert-going ritual sometimes runs counter to the spirit of the music. Mozarts operas draw on sounds both high and low. New Yorker gave him pause. Although the editors eagerness to rip up and reassemble his review had been intimidating, Ross liked joining his scholarly bent (the book was about the history of operas gay fan base) with his desire to connect the music he loved to a broad, adventurous readership. Almost every morning he had to wake up and write a brief review for his noon deadline. I had a hard time with it, actually, he says; the writing felt kind of like an official communiqu.