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The Rest is Noise: 1960s

Updated Friday 25th October 2013

26/27 October: The Pill. Rebellion. Experimentation. Protest. Civil Rights. The Rest is Noise looks at an iconic decade.

The Beatles in America, 1964 Copyright free image Icon Copyright free: By United Press International, photographer unknown [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons This is the ninth weekend in a series of events at the Southbank Centre exploring 20th Century music.

‘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 the Southbank Centre on 26-27 October

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.

Bites: 15-minute talks by OU experts

The following talks are part of the Festival's Bites presentations—a collection of 15-minute talks which provide the audience with an intense, whistle-stop tour through the needs-to-know of the topic.

The Post-'68 self: Voices from a commune, by Dr Richenda Power (Saturday 12:30pm). Explore the poetry and lyrics of revolution through the lives of some 60s teenagers. Aspiring to be 'hip' and to avoid becoming part of 'the grey', they 'dropped out' to live in a UK commune in 1969.

Hockney: a tale of two styles, by Dr Stella Gambling (Saturday 2:30pm). In 1964 David Hockney moved from England to the US. This talk will focus on the differences between two works from the 1960s, one painted in England and the other in the US, in order to explore the cultural changes that this move reflected.

Open to people, places, methods and ideas: Opening The Open University in the 1960s, by Dr Daniel Weinbren (Saturday 2:30pm). Introduced by Harold Wilson in 1963, developed by Jennie Lee and granted its Royal Charter in 1969 The Open University disrupted the higher education sector and the very idea of the university as it enabled university learning to enter millions of people's homes and to transform their lives. This talk will explore its roots in the traditions of part-time adult education, its role as an aid to economic regeneration and within the Cold War and its notions of social justice, the welfare state, mass production, television and liberatory education. Read an article about the OU and the Cold War by Daniel Weinbren.

The launch of Coronation Street, by Fred Davies (Sunday 11:30). Coronation Street was first broadcast in December 1960 and within six months was the most watched show on British TV. Why? Corrie broke with traditional middle class BBC TV and linked into the provincial working class, and women in particular, in the context of the 'Cultural Revolution' of the 60s. The first episode of Coronation Street with be shown at 1pm and 4pm on Sunday.

Yoga in the 1960s: Countercultural for who? by Dr Suzanne Newcombe (Sunday 4:30pm). After the Beatles’ association with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1967, “everyone” might have heard of yoga—but this talk will argue that yoga had already been established as a revolutionary activity for middle-class housewives before the youth subcultures took hold of the practice. This talk will explore how yoga was popularised in 1960s Britain, including the inception of the Wheel of British Yoga (1963), "Slipping a Second" with Yogini Sunita at the Birmingham Athletics Institute (1963-1970), and the institutionalisation of B.K.S. Iyengar’s charisma into the local educational authority evening classes in London and then Manchester (from 1969).

The Cold War and climate change, by Dr Teresa Ashe (Sunday 4:30pm).

Counter-culture and the 1960s anti-mental illness movement, by Dr Angella Richards (Time TBC).

 

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