Classics with a French Accent

Today we present a selec­tion of var­ied French pieces from the Baroque peri­od to the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry, includ­ing a good many famous names — and some not quite so well known who also have a place in the French clas­si­cal pan­theon.

Some of those less­er-known com­posers include Jean-Joseph Mouret, whose dra­mat­ic works made him very pop­u­lar in the Baroque peri­od, although he has now large­ly fad­ed from view, with the excep­tion of one piece you’ll recog­nise at once; and Marc-Antoine Char­p­en­tier, anoth­er French Baroque com­pos­er we’ll be hear­ing from today — and we’ll start the show with the Pre­lude to his Te Deum, which many Euro­pean lis­ten­ers will recog­nise as the Euro­pean Broad­cast­ing Union theme.

We’ll also be fea­tur­ing the music of Fran­cis Jean Mar­cel Poulenc (1899–1963), a mem­ber of the French group Les six. He com­posed in a wide range of styles, from solo piano music to full orches­tral music, both sacred and sec­u­lar. Lis­ten out in par­tic­u­lar for the music from his bal­let Les Bich­es. Poulenc, unknown in the ear­ly 1920s when it was writ­ten, was asked by Serge Diaghilev to write a piece for the Bal­let Russ­es based on Glazunov’s Les Syl­phides, writ­ten sev­en­teen years ear­li­er. Poulenc instead based his work on paint­ings by Wat­teau that showed Louis XV and var­i­ous women in his “Parc aux bich­es” - the word biche usu­al­ly mean­ing a female deer. Poulenc described his work as a “con­tem­po­rary draw­ing room par­ty suf­fused with an atmos­phere of wan­ton­ness, which you sense if you are cor­rupt­ed, but of which an inno­cent-mind­ed girl would not be con­scious.”

Plus you’ll hear Joseph Can­teloube’s beau­ti­ful Chants d’Au­vergne… and did you know that Sir William Wal­ton got sued for copy­right infringe­ment for includ­ing the best-known tune in his music for Olivier’s film of Hen­ry V (1944)?

The ZBS Radio Hour

Then don’t for­get to join us at 11am or 7pm Pacif­ic Time (this week, that’s 18:00 or 03:00 GMT) for the third instal­ments of our lat­est excit­ing radio seri­als, We kick off the hour with our cur­rent tale from the Fan­tas­tic Voy­ages of Jack Flan­ders: Trop­i­cal Hot Dog Night. Then at the bot­tom of the hour, we con­tin­ue a pro­duc­tion by the incom­pa­ra­ble Roger Gregg and the award-win­ning Crazy Dog Audio The­atre from Ire­land: Tread Soft­ly, Bill Lizard. Amer­i­can pri­vate-eye Bill Lizard finds him­self trapped in a strange land known as the Celtic Imag­i­na­tion. Roger Greg­g’s work is also dis­trib­uted by ZBS in the Unit­ed States.

The image shows the Eif­fel Tow­er being struck by light­ning on June 3, 1902. Some con­tent based on Wikipedia mate­r­i­al.

Today’s pro­gramme is pre­sent­ed by Elrik Mer­lin. You can lis­ten to the pro­gramme in-world now at, or sim­ply click here to start your play­er, if your brows­er is con­fig­ured to do so. Lis­ten­ers in the Unit­ed States are encour­aged to tune in using this link:

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