The rest is noise



Counterculture and revolution

‘The Sixties’ is not just a decade in history. It is a collection of ideas, images and events which signified profound changes in politics and society.

The middle-class youth of Europe and America was alive with protest – against the war in Vietnam, against racism, sexism and nuclear weaponry – culminating in the 1968 uprisings in Paris, Prague and elsewhere. There was a revolution in social attitudes – the contraceptive pill allowed women unprecedented control over their own fertility, and female attendance at colleges and universities subsequently rocketed. The Civil Rights movement’s campaigns of civil disobedience achieved great gains, including the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and drew strength from mass events such as the March on Washington of 1963.

With a look towards the rebellion, sexual liberation and drug experimentation that characterised psychedelic culture, contemporary music entered its carnivalesque, topsy-turvy, through-the-looking-glass period. It also drew closer to popular music, which was rapidly acquiring a seriousness and depth to rival classical music, and an influence to surpass it. When the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967, they put Karlheinz Stockhausen in amongst their cultural heroes on the cover.

Visit ITunes to explore related music, podcasts, iBooks and more.


SATURDAY 26 – SUNDAY 27 October

(From 10am - 6pm. Note, passes do NOT include entry to concerts)

The Pill. Rebellion. Experimentation. Protest. Civil Rights.

This weekend we look at the Vietnam protests, pop art, social change, the anti-nuclear movement, civil rights, the Profumo affair, Skiffle, the Beatles and maverick composers including Frank Zappa, Stockhausen and Bernstein.

Buy a weekend or a day pass to be part of our jam packed programme of talks, debates and more.

See the full timetable for the weekend

Events include:


Activist, scholar and revolutionary Angela Davis looks back on the enormous gains made during this decade of revolution.

Zappa on Zappa. Gail Zappa speaks on her husband Frank, who was a composer, solo artist, band member and much more.

The Profumo Affair – was it extraordinary or symptomatic of the eroded social mores of the ‘60s? Historian and biographer Richard Davenport-Hines investigates.

Tariq Ali, a leading figure of the international Left, gives an eye-witness account of this eventful decade.

Space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock talks us through the race that put a man on the moon.


15 minutes on each of the need-to-know topics of the era including:

Intoxicating, stimulating, harmless? The rise and fall of LSD.

Coronation Street was first broadcast in December 1960 and within six months was the most watched show on British TV. Why?

500,000 people in a field with Jimi Hendrix? It can only be Woodstock, one of the defining moments of the ‘60s.

Did the founding of the Open University in 1969 usher in a new era of openness in academia?


Grab a coffee and delve inside the music of The Rest Is Noise festival. Composer and presenter Rachel Leach leads a fun and informal workshop on Berio’s Sinfonia on Sunday.


Don’t know where to start? Let our music experts bring the music of the 1960s to life in these beginner’s guides.


Stockhausen’s Stimmung – Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Drama perform this quintessential piece of 1960s music based on intonation and Stockhausen’s own poetry.

Peter Maxwell-Davies’ Eight Songs for a Mad King, based on the words of George III.


These include the iconic Yellow Submarine and Heimat.


1960s Saturday Day Pass - Saturday 26 October 2013. Book now

1960s Sunday Day Pass - Sunday 27 October 2013. Book now

1960s  Weekend Pass - Saturday 26 - 27 October 2013. Book now


Photos from the weekend


The Concerts

7 October - 29 October 2013

Separate tickets are required for each event

Berio's Sinfonia and Bernstein's West Side Story: 25 October 2013.  The São Paulo Symphony Orchestra return to London for a night of quintessentially '60s music with conductor Marin Alsop. Book Now


2001: A Space Odyssey 7 October 2013 Following sell-out successes in 2010 and 2011, Southbank Centre presents Stanley Kubrick's seminal film 2001 - A Space Odyssey with live music. Book Now

Denys Baptiste's Now's The Time... Let Freedom Ring 26 October 2013 A work which combines text by Ben Okri with live news footage from the 1960s. Commissioned in honour of Martin Luther King's famous 'I have a dream' speech. Book now

Shostakovich Speaks Out 26 October 2013 For his 13th Symphony, the composer took controversial texts by the young liberal poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko depicting the Nazi massacre of Jews outside Kiev and set them with bold simplicity and tragic irony. Book Now

Zappa: 200 Motels 29 October 2013 One of the music events of the year Frank Zappa's legendary 1971 work 200 Motels is performed live in concert for the first ever time in the UK. Book Now

For more information and to buy tickets for 1960s weekend, visit the Southbank Centre ticketing website