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. The Cold War breaks out and music explodes into a pandemonium of revolutions, counterrevolutions, theories, polemics, alliances,and party splits. The language of modern music is reinvented. This short ebook looks at some of the extraordinary compositions of this period. 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. Festival performances that focus on the music of the 1950s include ‘Opulence and Sensuality’ on 23 May 2013, ‘Composers Imagine the Future’ on 9 June 2013, ‘Music from Across the Iron Curtain’ 27 September 2013, ‘Stockhaussen & Boulez: Modern Masterpieces’ on 5 October 2013 and ‘Tamara Stefanovitch, Piano’ on 6 October 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.