Skip to content

The Rest Is Noise: Here comes the 20th Century

Updated Tuesday 15th January 2013

19/20 Jan: A new century, a new world. The first weekend in The Rest Is Noise season explores the first decades of the 20th Century.

Alla Nazimova in A Doll's House Creative commons image Icon Work found at Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 3.0 under Creative-Commons license All Nazimova, one of the early 20th Century's leading lights This is the first weekend in a series of events at the Southbank Centre exploring 20th Century music.

As the sun was setting on the 19th century, a feverish atmosphere was building across Europe.

The old certainties of art, science and Empire were being torn apart, and the first decades of the 20th century saw exceptional innovation and change across every field of human endeavour.

Einstein invented special relativity and the quantum theory of light, the first attempt at revolution flared up in Tsarist Russia and literature’s horizons were expanded by figures such as James, Conrad and Proust.

Humans flew for the first time in aeroplanes, and the campaign for women’s suffrage gathered pace.

Concepts previously thought unshakeable – the figure in painting, tonality in music – were ruptured in these cataclysmic decades of artistic change.

So too were the empires of Russia, Germany, Turkey and Austro-Hungary, as Europe was plunged into volatile, unknown worlds.

Artists and thinkers ventured far beyond what had previously been thought possible – they made leaps into unknown worlds just as Sigmund Freud was laying bare the dark uncharted regions of the human subconscious.

Listen to recordings from across the weekend

With two packed days of events, visitors were able to immerse themselves in the changing world of the early 1900s.

A range of talks, debates, discussions and films revealed how the old certainties were shattered by a new generation. Use the media player below to catch up on the weekend's events.

Visit the Southbank Centre to find out more about future weekend events.

Learn more about early 20th Century culture on OpenLearn


For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?