The Sound and the Fury: Wrecking Ball

Updated Tuesday 5th February 2013

The first in a new music series: How the early 20th century saw a fragmented, abstract, discordant sound come to the fore.

Timothy Andres Copyrighted image Icon Copyrighted image Copyright: BBC Composer and pianist Timothy Andres The first episode of The Sound and the Fury looks at the shift in the language and sound of music from the beautiful melodies and harmonies of the giants of classical music such as Mozart, Haydn and Brahms into the fragmented, abstract, discordant sound of the most radical composers of the new century—Schoenberg, Webern, Stravinsky and beyond.

It examines how this new music, which can perplex and upset even the most contemporary of audiences, was a response to the huge upheaval in the world at the start of the 20th century—with its developments in technology, science, modern art and the tumult of the First World War.

Featuring specially-shot performances of some of the key works of the period, performed by the London Sinfonietta, members of the Aurora Orchestra and the American composer and pianist Timothy Andres, the story of this radical episode in music history is brought to life through the contributions of some of the biggest names in modern classical music, among them Steve Reich, John Adams, Michael Tilson Thomas, Pierre Boulez, George Benjamin and Alex Ross, music critic of the New Yorker.

From the atonal experiments of Vienna to the jazz-infused sounds coming from New York in the 1920s, the film travels the world to place this music in context and to uncover the incredible personalities and lives of the composers whose single-minded visions changed the course of classical music for ever.

Watch The Sound and the Fury

You can watch this episode of The Sound and the Fury on Friday 27 September at 19:30 on BBC Four.

See The Sound and Fury pages on the BBC website for information on repeat transmissions and iPlayer coverage.

 

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