This is a chapter from Alex Ross’s groundbreaking history of twentieth-century classical music, ‘The Rest is Noise’. Further extracts are available as digital shorts, accompanying the London Southbank festival programme.
Benjamin Britten lived for most of his life around the Suffolk coast, and is buried in the Aldeburgh churchyard. He once stated that all his music came from there. ‘Peter Grimes’ is an opera of staggering force that is soaked in Aldeburgh to its bones.
Now a major festival running throughout 2013 at London’s Southbank, The Rest is Noise is an intricate commentary not just on the sounds that defined the century, but on art’s troublesome dance with politics, social and cultural change. Britten’s music features prominently in the festival; ‘Music from Across the Iron Curtain’ is on 27 September 2013, ‘Britten Centenary Celebrations’ are on 2 and 12 October and ‘The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra’ is performed on 3 November 2013.
Alex Ross is the New Yorker’s music critic, and the winner of the Guardian First Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award for The Rest is Noise, which was also shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson and Pulitzer prizes for non-fiction.