Saturday, October 07, 2006

Radio 4 - Frank Zappa

I have just been listening to an excellent programme on Radio 4 about that genius of rock and crossover, Frank Zappa. So far, I have never really gone out of my way to engage with his music, but the programme made me realise what I had been missing.

It was amusing to hear his views on classical orchestral players, and in particular his story about the London Symphony Orchestra and the Barbican Artists' Bar at a concert of his music.

I had never realised how dedicated and phenomenally talented he was as both a performer and composer. He held strong views on creativity in music (firmly believing that it was the composer who created , rather than the performer, who for him always remained a professionally-skilled technician). Amongst his many evangelists was the composer and conductor Pierre Boulez, who has performed and recorded his orchestral music with great sensitivity and understanding.

I would strongly urge anyone who missed the programme to catch it on the Radio 4 website within the next 7 days (after which it will no longer be available).


Hi Steve,
Now that I know you're eclectic in your musical tastes, may I tell you about a French radio station that you might find you enjoy listening to on the web? It's called France Inter Paris (but nobody in their right mind ever calls it anything other than FIP), and it broadcasts all kinds of styles of very good music (from classical to jazz to pop to you name it).The odd track will no doubt fall below the standard but on the whole it's great. Added advantage: very little blah-blah in between.
PS: sorry, don't know how to publish a hyperlink in a comment.... :-(

Hello Steve (and Marie-Noelle too, though I don't know how to do the thing above the e in noelle),
I haven't got broadband at present, (and have an OU music exam coming up very soon, which I need to revise for) so may not make a habit of this e-stuff. I can lend you some Zappa CDs and a DVD if you want to hear a bit more of his genius (though you have to have a tolerant ear for subject matter).


Yes, it was an interesting programme, although - as usual - not enough of - or about -the music. I didn't know that Frank and Germaine were friends. It didn't mention his earlier brush with a British Orchestra, which led to the cancellation of the concert of his music for the film "200 Motels". It was the Royal Albert Hall management who pulled the plug, but I seem to remember members of the orchestra (the RPO) complaining to the press about his obscene lyrics, see

Nor did it mention his friendship with Vaclav Havel and his role as America's unofficial ambassador in the Czech Republic beofer and after 1989.

I suppose in a half hour programme you have to decide whether you are dealing with the music or the man, and they opted for the latter.

The link to the page about the RAH is fascinating, and on the face of it a rather important event. It's odd that the programme didn't cover it at all. I've only had chance to read the first page so far - looking forward to the rest later today.