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The Rest is Noise: Superpower

Updated Friday 8th November 2013

9/10 November: Vietnam. Watergate. Downtown New York. Scorsese. The Rest is Noise looks at America's continued domination on the world stage.

Richard Nixon broadcasting about the Watergate scandal to the nation Copyright free image Icon Copyright free: U.S. National Archives & Records Administration Richard Nixon addresses the U.S. in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal This is the eleventh weekend in a series of events at the Southbank Centre exploring 20th Century music.

America’s continued domination on the world stage was symbolised by Neil Armstrong’s tentative steps on the surface of the moon in July 1969, but not everything was going smoothly.

The 1970s saw economic troubles, foreign policy headaches and the dramatic resignation of President Nixon over the Watergate scandal.

Some of the idealism of the 1960s had subsided, but American artists were creating engaging work, away from the angst and in-fighting of the European avant-garde.

A group of American composers developed ‘minimalism’, a music that allied consonant harmonies to a fresh new physicality in rhythm.

Euphoric, hypnotic, and with a commercial success that set it apart from many previous musical movements, minimalism had an engaging openness that took in influences from jazz and gamelan to African drumming.

Of course, there had been American composers writing genuinely popular notated music before minimalism, but it was being heard in movie theatres and on Broadway.

Many cinematic and musical theatre classics benefited from stirring and memorable music that has become an integral part of America’s cultural landscape.

Listen to talks from the weekend

Bites: 15 minute talks by OU experts

The following talks we given as 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.

Philip Roth, Jews and the American Dream, by Dr Peter Lawson (Saturday 3:30pm). From the start of his writing career with the award-winning novel Goodbye Columbus (1959), via such seminal works as Portnoy's Complaint (1969), The Counterlife (1986) and American Pastoral (1997), Philip Roth has dwelled on what it means to be both Jewish and American. This talk will discuss how Roth's novels portray America as an alternative Promised Land, where Jews can be assimilated into a pluralistic 'melting pot'. Focussing particularly on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel American Pastoral, we wil consider how Jews in Roth's work become the quintessential American citizens.

The USA and Britain in the 1980s, by Alison Appleby (Sunday 2:00pm). This talk will be about the Anglo-American relationship in the 1980s. How important was Britain to the American superpower? If the 'special relationship' was boosted by the friendship between Thatcher and Reagan, did this have any actual benefits for Britain, or, indeed, the United States? Despite their mutual admiration , Reagan and Thatcher clashed on several occasions. What do such movements of discord tel us about the state of their nations in the last years of the Cold War?

 

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