The Rest Is Noise: 19 January - 14 December 2013

A year-long celebration and exploration of music of the 20th century

The Rest Is Noise

In 2007 Alex Ross published his first book, The Rest Is Noise. Subtitled 'Listening to the Twentieth Century', Ross's book tells the story of 20th-century music within its historical context, exploring how the events and ideas of the 20th century shaped the art that was created, and vice versa. Why did musicians write what they did? Why did the world react the way it did? Why, in some cases, were they silenced?

Southbank Centre Festival

Southbank Centre's The Rest Is Noise festival ran from Saturday 19 January to Saturday 14 December 2013. Throughout the year, the London Philharmonic Orchestra appeared as the major orchestral partner in this multi-art-form festival, inspired by Ross's book. The festival chronologically charted the key works of the 20th century, looking at them through a wide lens, taking in the political happenings, social movements, cultural climates and personal stories that gave rise to these inspiring and sometimes controversial pieces of music.

Press reviews for The Rest Is Noise

‘We could only be humbled by the incredible achievement of the dedicated forces Vladimir Jurowski had mustered for the special occasion ... his London Philharmonic players registered the host of inspired ideas so beautifully that you wanted to weep at their transience.’
David Nice, The Arts Desk. (John Adams's El Niño, 14 December 2013)

 ‘I emerged feeling as if my brain had been pulled through my ears, savagely jumped on, and then squeezed back in, albeit upside down ... a breathtaking combination of skill and energy.'
Guy Dammann, The Guardian. (Schnittke's Vision of the Future, 30 October 2013)

‘After playing so perfectly prepared and beautifully detailed as this, the rest is noise indeed.’
Richard Fairman, Financial Times. (Britten Centenary Celebrations, 2 October 2013)

'Intellectually and emotionally speaking this was a classic of its kind ... the accomplishment of its execution was as exemplary as it was gripping ... What an extraordinary concert.'
Edward Seckerson, The Arts Desk. (Music from Dark Times, 27 April 2013)

Take a look back at The Rest Is Noise

Visit Southbank Centre's The Rest Is Noise website to listen to talks, lectures and playlists from The Rest Is Noise festival

Read some of the stories behind the music in The Centurion

Inspired by Alex Ross, we too delved into the stories behind the music of The Rest Is Noise, in a series of newspapers titled The Centurion. The complete set of newspapers, designed by Cog Design, is available to read online at the links below. 

Issue 1: All the Makings of a Scandal (1900-1915)

Riots at the ballet, operas full of sex and violence and punch-ups at premieres. New music at the turn of the 20th century causes a stir.

Featuring: Richard Strauss, Arnold Schoenberg and Igor Stravinsky.

Issue 2: Culture of Fear (1916-1939)

Songs of subversion and submission spread across Europe as music becomes a political tool in the lead-up to the Second World War. Jazz and cabaret make their mark on the world and American classical music comes into its own.

Featuring: Kurt Weill, Carl Orff and George Gerswhin.

Issue 3: Times They Are A'Changing (1945-1975)

The world reels after the Second World War. New ideas and new beliefs give rise to new sounds and the avant-garde movements of the 1950s and '60s.

Featuring: Benjamin Britten, Olivier Messiaen and Alfred Schnittke.

Issue 4: Classical Music for our Contemporary Lives (1976-2000)

A look at the music that soundtracks our modern lives, and ‘classical’ music’s role in contemporary culture.

Featuring: John Adams, Arvo Pärt and Mark-Anthony Turnage.