Sunday, September 30, 2007
The day the music died
For four weeks in France my appetite for music was met by France Musique, a wide ranging selection of CDs and books (see above), and much fine live music.
When I drove off the cross-channel ferry last Monday I retuned the car radio to BBC Radio 3. Within an hour the presenter had plugged the BBC's New Generation Artists Scheme so many times that I concluded she was earning a bonus for every mention. Between the plugs there was much other useful information, such as "the violinist was born in 1983, which means she is now 24". And later in the afternoon Sean Rafferty fawned over every act a desperate record company or concert agent sent along to the In Tune studio.
The next day the morning presenter helpfully explained to me why I should appreciate Jordi Savall's Bach, while in the evening classical-jock of the week Tom Service started the network's birthday tribute to Sir Colin Davis by leaving studio guest Mitsuko Uchida's microphone closed for the first thirty seconds of her contribution. Then, yesterday, a tribute to record label Lyrita, which promised so much, sounded like a promotional video for a bio-tech company. It came complete with customer endorsements delivered over Stanford's Second Piano Concerto, a work which sounds like film music even when it is not being used as the background for a voice-over.
The patronising presenters could be ignored if they were introducing great radio. But, today's ratings driven Radio 3 has come up with its own inversion of Lord Reith's vision for the BBC, and the network's programmes now, invariably, offer the public 'something worse than it ever thought it wanted'.
This kind of post doesn't make happy reading, or happy writing. But there will not be many more like it, which will please my regular readers at webgw2.thls.bbc.co.uk (British Broadcasting Corporation). After 40 years of almost daily listening I have decided that BBC Radio 3 will no longer be my default radio station. Instead, my default will be Radio 4 and the long tail of internet stations, supplemented by CDs and some much needed silence. Radio 3 will now be a 'destination station', only listened to for worthwhile concerts and programmes such as Iain Burnside's and Michael Berkeley's. Iain's programme today, with his guest, A. C. Grayling, and the Elisabeth Lutyens motet, was an oasis in a desert of mediocrity.
Coincidentally, today is the 40th anniversary of the first day's broadcasting on BBC Radio 3. But for this listener it is the day the music died. There are now much better alternatives. Access one of them by clicking on the image below to to launch the Radeo internet player, and listen to Polski Radio Dwojka.
Now read more about the future of radio.
For the lyrics of American Pie follow this link. Photo taken by me at Le Romarin, Les Gargoris, France, copyright On An Overgrown Path. Report broken links, missing images and other errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk