Once in a while a book comes along that changes your thinking forever. Such a book is Alex Ross's The Rest Is Noise, not simply for the huge range of works discussed, or the fascinating background details, but for the sheer sweep of musical history. The brilliance is in the overarching concept, which sees music reflecting the great movements in political, social and economic history in the 20th century. And what a century it was. From Richard Strauss to John Adams; a rollercoaster ride from Romanticism through nationalism, the Second Viennese School, the Darmstadt School, electronic music, minimalism, to Hollywood, musicals and pop culture.
Throughout 2013, Southbank Centre will bring the book alive with a year-long festival, The Rest Is Noise, encompassing almost 100 concerts, performances, films, talks and debates. As the festival's Principal Partner, we are dedicating every one of our 2013 Royal Festival Hall concerts to celebrating this extraordinary century of music. Between now and December we will give over 30 concerts as part of the festival, beginning with a dramatic all-Strauss programme on Saturday 19 January and concluding with John Adams’s joyful 'Nativity oratorio' El Niño just in time for Christmas on 14 December. Whatever your musical tastes – or your preconceptions of 20th-century music – prepare to be delighted, challenged and inspired by a truly unique year of concerts.
Timothy Walker, Chief Executive and Artistic Director, London Philharmonic Orchestra
London Philharmonic Orchestra talk about their decision to play nothing but 20th century music throughout 2013: Listen