The Sound And The Fury: A Century Of Music on BBC Four

The Sound And The Fury: A Century Of Music will capture some of the key voices of men and women who wrote the music and the bigger world history behind so many seminal compositions which will remain part of the BBC's archive for future generations.”Richard Klein, Controller, BBC Four
Date: 18.01.2013     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 17.51
Category: BBC Four
BBC Four is delighted to reveal a new landmark documentary series, The Sound And The Fury: A Century Of Music. The series accompanies a partnership with Southbank Centre that traces the turbulent history and ground-breaking music of the last century, uncovering how the last 100 years have changed music and the way we listen to sound forever.

The 3x60-minute series will explore why individual composers felt compelled to create the challenging music they did and how they were influenced by the moral, philosophical, and social upheavals at the time.

As part of BBC Four's partnership, The Sound And The Fury: A Century Of Music programmes are also screened to the public this weekend (19/20 January 2013) at Southbank Centre’s opening weekend of The Rest is Noise festival. Inspired by Alex Ross’ award-winning book of the same name, Southbank Centre’s year-long festival presents a series of 250 events – concerts, talks, film screenings and debates – exploring the cultural and musical history of the 20th century.

The series features contributions from 20th century music experts, historians and composers, including Alex Ross, Gillian Moore, Head of Contemporary Culture at the Southbank Centre, and composers Pierre Boulez, John Adams, Arvo Part, Steve Reich, Peter Maxwell Davies, Mark Anthony Turnage, Harrison Birtwistle, Philip Glass, John Tavener, George Benjamin, Julian Lloyd Webber and Michael Tilson Thomas.

The three episodes also feature specially filmed performances from a number of ensembles including the London Sinfonietta, as well as an impressive range of archive from the century.

Richard Klein, Controller of BBC Four, commented: "For some people 20th century classical music can seem daunting. As the leading arts and music channel, BBC Four aims to shed real insight into why music evolved in this way. The Sound And The Fury: A Century Of Music will capture some of the key voices of men and women who wrote the music and the bigger world history behind so many seminal compositions which will remain part of the BBC's archive for future generations.”

The Sound And The Fury: A Century Of Music is a Fresh One production, produced and directed by Ian MacMillan and executive produced by Roy Ackerman for Commissioning Editor of Music and Events, Jan Younghusband on behalf of Controller of BBC Four Richard Klein.

The BBC’s partnership with Southbank Centre for The Rest is Noise will also see BBC Four and BBC Radio 3 offering a complementary programme of broadcasts, documentaries and screenings to explore this important era in modern music, whilst the BBC Concert Orchestra will give eight performances as part of the festival.

Programme Information

Part 1: Wrecking Ball

In this first episode, Wrecking Ball, a host of renowned composers explore the foundations of contemporary music and discuss why 20th century composers deliberately chose to discard the traditional structures of form, melody and rhythm in favour of consonance and dissonance. The episode reveals the story of a cultural war – where the biggest casualties were the very things most people looked for in music: a steady rhythm and a recognisable tune, and addresses how to much of the wider audience, innovation was in fact, alienation.

Part 2: Free For All

Free For All explores the rapidly expanding musical spectrum of the mid-20th century.  Celebrated composers reflect on how artistic freedom clashed with political totalitarianism in the early 20th century and reveal some of the shock-provoking music that grew out of this era. The episode reveals how the wild drive for music to be more extreme and to break ground was imperative for composers, but also a response to a right wing conservatism that valued traditional musical values above all things.  The episode questions whether this music was art for art’s sake, or whether the extreme times called for extreme measures.

Part 3: Easy Listening?

This third and final episode completes the circle of the mad, frenetic journey classical music underwent throughout the 1900s. It shows how, once every rule of composition had been discarded, composers began to bring back elements of rhythm, metre, and harmony to both great acclaim and great reward. The increasing hunger among a mass audience for all things new and radical by the 1960s meant that some of music’s wildest fringes became part of popular culture, to be adopted by film directors and rock musicians. The arrival of minimalist music is discussed by some of its most highlight regarded pioneers, including Philip Glass, Steve Reich and John Adams, while Arvo Part and John Tavener explore the ways in which classical music began to turn towards a more pure sound, a sound that was tuneful, captivating and for some, even spiritual.

Notes to Editors

As part of the BBC’s partnership with Southbank Centre for The Rest is Noise, BBC Four will also show selected archive across the year which reflects and comments on the music, composers and events featured in the Festival. A special BBC archive collection relating to the composers featured in The Rest Is Noise will also be made available online along with full-length performances recorded for the documentary series and extended interviews.

BBC Radio 3 will work alongside BBC Four to provide complementary programming of the classical events and performances which will tie in to the television series and other activities across the year. Radio 3 will also broadcast many of the concerts from the festival.

The BBC Concert Orchestra, well-known for its versatility and diverse programming, will perform major works of the 20th century including pastoral works darkened by the experience of the Great War and the music of German composers forced to flee Nazi Germany.

The BBC Concert Orchestra is one of the country’s most versatile ensembles. Since 1952 they’ve been the house orchestra for BBC Radio 2’s Friday Night Is Music Night and give regular broadcasts on BBC Radio 3. In 2010 the BBC Concert Orchestra appointed Keith Lockhart as Principal Conductor and Johannes Wildner as Principal Guest Conductor, complementing Conductor Laureate Barry Wordsworth. A regular at the BBC Proms and Proms in the Park, the orchestra also perform at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall and Watford Colosseum.

As the gold card channel for arts, BBC Four features the most music programming on television and is the home of classical music on television which features in the heart of the schedule.

The BBC aims to provide the broadest range and depth of music and arts programmes across television and radio

The BBC aims to provide context through original, fresh discussion and perspectives

The BBC creates non-commercial partnerships with the arts sector that go beyond broadcast, from sharing expertise to widening public engagement in UK arts eg, The Royal Opera House, Edinburgh International Festival, Southbank Centre and many more.

The Rest is Noise: This year-long festival inspired by Alex Ross’ book The Rest is Noise, uses film, debate, talks and a vast range of concerts to reveal the stories behind the century’s wonderful and often controversial music. The music is set in context by a team of historians, scientists, philosophers, political theorists and musical experts as well as films, online content and other special programmes.

Running alongside the concert series, 12 weekends throughout the year will explore specific moments in the 20th century. In addition to talks, film screenings, performances and participation events, each of these weekends will feature Bites, hour-long sessions with guest speakers discussing themes relevant for a specific moment in history. Breakfast with... sessions each weekend offer in-depth analysis of a seminal musical work led by top UK animateurs Rachel Leach, Fraser Trainer and John Browne. Each weekend will also feature Listen to this sessions with musicological experts discussing the influences and tendencies of the 20th century.

Southbank Centre is the UK’s largest arts centre, occupying a 21-acre site that sits in the midst of London’s most vibrant cultural quarter on the South Bank of the Thames. The site has an extraordinary creative and architectural history stretching back to the 1951 Festival of Britain. Southbank Centre is home to the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and The Hayward as well as The Saison Poetry Library and the Arts Council Collection.