The Sound and the Fury: A Century of Music

Wrecking Ball

Series 1 - Episode 1 Wrecking Ball



Promoting his BBC2 series on Radio 4 recently, Howard Goodall bemoaned the disaster that befell classical music when it tore up its tonal rule-book at the start of the 20th century, cutting a chasm between high art and popular taste. This series rappels merrily through said chasm and sketches the big figures in the landscape, from Debussy to Schoenberg to Stravinsky.

The standpoint is even-handed, embracing populists as well as those who rejoice at “the emancipation of dissonance”. There are top-drawer contributors, from John Adams to Pierre Boulez and lovely archive: look out for the tennis match between Schoenberg and George Gershwin, the story in a single image.


Exploring the changes in classical music during the 20th century, when melodies and harmonies of the past were replaced by radically different sounds as artists responded to global upheaval and scientific developments. Featuring performances of key pieces and contributions by modern composers, including John Adams. Narrated by Joe McGann.