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The Sound and the Fury: A Century of Music

S1-E2 Free for All

S1-E2 Free for All

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This series does a great job of explaining how 20th-century composers set out to expand music, but in the process left the public behind. The catch is that when the programme gives us, say, a short snatch of incredibly spiky Boulez, it sounds almost comically inaccessible.

But we get a lucid account of how the avant garde evolved after the Second World War from an array of contributors, including Boulez himself (in rock-star sunglasses), Harrison Birtwistle and George Benjamin. The latter says feelingly of serialism – which replaced the traditional scale with a system giving all 12 notes equal weight – “It became an orthodoxy. It became almost a form of totalitarianism.”


Exploring the effects totalitarian regimes had on music during the 20th century, including Germany's prohibition of pieces written by Jews, African-Americans and communists. Plus, how a new generation of European composers such as Stockhausen ushered in avant-garde experimentation. Featuring contributions by Pierre Boulez, Michael Tilson-Thomas, Peter Maxwell-Davies, Harrison Birtwistle and John Adams.

Cast & Crew

Director Ian MacMillan
Series Producer Ian MacMillan


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