With BBC4 currently exploring modern classical music in ‘The Sound and the Fury’, it’s interesting to see how Goodall approaches the 20th century. Clearly, a little overlap is unavoidable but mostly, he ploughs his own furrow.
There’s plenty to get through and Goodall does a decent job of integrating jazz, pop, rock and the modernist avant-garde into his finely wrought whole. Much attention is paid to music’s role in the century’s two great conflagrations – Bartok was music’s bravest dissident while Shostakovich scores were dropped into besieged Stalingrad in the hope that they’d inspire resistance.
Inevitably, The Beatles are seen as some sort of culmination – simultaneously futurists and archivists, they pointed the way forward to a time in which no juxtaposition was too unlikely and anything from music hall to musique concrète was fair game. Our time, in other words. A satisfying conclusion to a thoroughly worthwhile series.
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