The Rest is Noise

Saturday 19 January 2013 - Saturday 14 December 2013

The Rest Is Noise: The Soundtrack of the 20th Century - throughout 2013

The Rest Is Noise is our year-long festival that explores the soundtrack of the 20th century through weekends of talks, debates and films and a chronological series of concerts. What do two world wars, votes for women and a moon landing sound like? Find out in The Rest Is Noise


Visit the festival website The Rest Is Noise


From September to December we continue our journey through the music of the 20th century with the second half of the festival. Our voyage takes us from the post-war world of the 1950s through to the turn of a new century.

We provided a map for audiences that includes talks, films, debates and concerts to help explain the relationship between classical music and the social and political changes of the last century. This approach, inspired by Alex Ross’ book The Rest Is Noise, has allowed us to see the music of that period ‘in the round’ – bringing in the history of science, technology, philosophical and political movements.

The first half, which began in January 2013, covered the period from 1900, when the world was on the brink of imploding into the First World War, and through to the end of the Second World War, just as America’s star was on the rise and the Iron Curtain drew an impenetrable barrier across a shattered Europe.


Now we continue...

From September 2013 we start with a look at the greatest British composer of the century, Benjamin Britten, and how he emerged as a composer in a nation recovering from war. This investigation of the post-war world continues in October, as we turn our attention to Europe and the generation of avant-garde composers who wanted to make a clean break from history. In the autumn, we explore the social revolution of the 1960s and the distinctly spiritual music that flowered alongside Cold-War tensions in the 1970s. And finally, as we move closer to the year end, we focus on America again – the rise of Hollywood, musical theatre and Minimalism. We conclude with the new world order at the end of the century – globalisation, the rise of the internet and the end of the ‘isms’.

This year-long festival has only been made possible by our partnerships with our resident orchestras: in particular our principal orchestra partner the London Philharmonic Orchestra plus significant contributions from one of our other resident orchestras, the London Sinfonietta. However, orchestras from right across the UK are also involved in addition to many international orchestras, music colleges, youth ensembles and school programmes, all of which have helped to create this huge and rich repertoire, plus the BBC, Open University and many writers, conductors, lecturers and film curators.

It has been a personal desire of mine to see this wonderful music, long misunderstood and sometimes neglected, opened up to an audience that is culturally curious. This is a festival as much about discussion and debate as it is about music. Do share your experiences and views with us.

Visit our dedicated website for The Rest Is Noise to find out more about the festival: watch videos and playlists from the first part of the festival (January – June 2013), explore the themes and wider context of the times, and find out what’s coming up next in the festival. The Rest Is Noise


See below for festival event listings and to book tickets.

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Past Events