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The Rest Is Noise: Paris

Updated Tuesday 15th January 2013

9/10 Feb: Shock, glamour and experiments. The third The Rest Is Noise weekend looks at Paris before 1930.

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This is the third weekend in a series of events at the Southbank Centre exploring 20th Century music.

James Joyce in Zurich 1918 Creative commons image Icon Work found at Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 3.0 under Creative-Commons license Writer James Joyce was one of the array of artists living in Paris in the early 20th Century In the years surrounding the First World War, Paris exerted an irresistible pull for artists, intellectuals and sophisticates the world over.

In 1909 Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes arrived in town and rocked the world. In 1918, a new wave of prosperity, confidence and creativity swept across Europe, and the undisputed centre of this exciting epoch was Paris.

The Paris Olympics in 1924 and the Paris Exposition the following year typified this sense of progress in the quintessential modern city.

Exciting technological innovations such as the phonograph, the radio and the motorcar coincided with a flourishing bohemian subculture with a taste for provocation and scandal.

The Roaring Twenties brought a wave of confidence, experimentation and hedonistic abandon to the city.

The free-thinking, cosmopolitan atmosphere lay claim to some of the great artists of the time–Picasso, Stravinsky and Dali rubbed shoulders with Hemingway and Gertrude Stein; Dada-ists and Surrealists with Coco Chanel and James Joyce; and all were among the crowds flocking to see African-American dance icon Josephine Baker.

Young Parisian composers cast off music’s Germanic seriousness and revelled in music-hall, ragtime, jazz and the sounds of the urban street.

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.

These short presentations are included in the Day or Weekend Passes. For more details about Bites across all the weekend events, follow the 'learn more' link underneath the media player below.

On Saturday 9th February at 2:00pm the OU's Professor Robert Fraser gave a short talk titled "The Latin Quarter and the Culture of the Bookshop". In this talk Robert explains how two remarkable women and one street transformed the literary life of Paris between the wars.

At 3:30pm Robert gave another talk titled "Sex, Bitchiness and Anaïs Nin," examining the life and work of one of the most exotic inhabitants of pre-war Paris.

Listen to both talks using the media player below.

Listen to recordings from across the weekend

Hemingway. Dali. Fitzgerald. Picasso. Chanel. Joyce. Matisse. Stravinsky.

For the cultural and artistic élite, Paris was Utopia. The mix of nationalities and ideologies fostered creativity at the cutting edge.

But what made the Roaring Twenties so loud? Use the media player below to dive into the Parisian melting pot with events that lay bare the economic, political, geographic and cultural catalysts for these ‘Crazy Years’.

Visit the Southbank Centre to learn more.

Learn more about Paris on OpenLearn



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