Politics and Spirituality
In the late 20th Century
After Stalin’s death in 1953, life behind the Iron Curtain slowly began to change – and by the 1970s the Soviet Union under Brezhnev was beginning to modernise. Symbols of the West such as jeans and rock music became popular in Soviet Russia, signalling anew era of cautious thawing of Cold War relations. In the West, the 1970s and ’80s were fast-paced decades – first a recession then economic boom years, where advertising and communications technology rapidly accelerated the pace of modern life.
To counter this materialism, some composers offered a return to spiritual values, and others resorted to overtly political music.
Much of this religious music came from the Soviet Union and its satellite states, where religious belief had been marginalised under the official state atheism. More surprising were the commercial possibilities in this sacred music. The simple, consonant songs of lamentation in Henryk Górecki’s Third Symphony unexpectedly sold over a million copies when it was released to commemorate victims of the Holocaust.
No composer exemplified this turn to the sacred more than Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, whose work conveys an intense and profound spirituality. Hans Werner Henze gave voice to oppressed peoples and political radicals such as Cornelius Cardew who tried to sweep aside the bourgeois norms of the musical establishment.
WEEKEND/DAY PASS EVENTS
SATURDAY 28 – SUNDAY 29 SEPTEMBER
(From 10am - 6pm. Note, passes do NOT include entry to concerts)
Boom. Bust. Globalisation. Religion. Hope.
By the 1970s, western influences began to creep under the Iron Curtain. We explore this era of change, and seek to understand why it provoked a political and spiritual response from composers across the globe.
Book a weekend or a day pass to be a part of our jam packed programme of events.
Author Karen Armstrong looks back at the global religious landscape of the 1970s and '80s. This period saw increasing secularism in the West and a return to the spiritual in the Communist bloc.
Author Alain de Botton investigates how spirituality fitted into an increasingly consumerist world.
We hear from Hanif Kureishi who captured all the tensions of Thatcherite Britain in his novel The Buddha of Suburbia.
Composer Michael Nyman discusses the Portsmouth Sinfonia, which had only one entry requirement: you must not know how to play your instrument.
BITES: YOUR WHISTLE-STOP TOUR
15 minutes on each of the need-to-know topics of the era including:
Sex Pistols: they lasted less than three years, but managed to kick-start the punk rock movement.
Could the government of the Soviet Union ever be open and transparent? We grapple with Glasnost.
MTV played its first video, 'Video killed the radio star' on August 1 1981 and began a global phenomenon.
As unemployment surged in 1980s Britain, a whole community of squatters reclaimed a bombed-out London for the homeless.
BREAKFAST WITH GUBAIDULINA
Grab a coffee and delve inside the music of The Rest Is Noise festival. Composer and presenter John Browne leads a fun and informal workshop on Gubaidulina's Offertorium on Sunday.
LISTEN TO THIS
Don't know where to start? Let our music experts bring the music of Politics and Spirituality to life in these beginner's guides.
Gubaidulina's String Quartets Nos.3 & 4 performed by the Ligeti String Quartet.
Extracts from Cornelius Cardew's Paragraph 5 of The Great Learning by the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and James Weeks.
Excerpts from Hans Werner Henze's Voices by musicians from the Royal College of Music.
Including Solaris, Tarkovsky's psychological space-race drama and Dekalog
A full timetable with updated details of the events will be released nearer the weekend.
Power & Spirituality Saturday Day Pass - Saturday 2 November 2013. Book now
Power & Spirituality Sunday Day Pass - Sunday 3 November 2013. Book now
Power & Spirituality Weekend Pass - Saturday 2 - Sunday 3 November 2013. Book now
30 October - 27 November 2013
Separate tickets are required for each event
A Timeless Beauty 6 November 2013 Pärt’s devastating purity, stillness and resonance connect the distant past to the absolute present while seeming to wipe the musical slate clean of all needless excess, noise and argument. Book Now
For more information and to buy tickets for Politics And Spirituality, visit the Southbank Centre ticketing website