I just wish to declare my pleasant surprise (and thanks) at hearing “Atom Heart Mother” by Pink Floyd on Late Junction last week. I was randomly scrolling through the radio stations (non-DAB) at 12.30 a.m. when I recognised the opening notes, but it took me several minutes to realise I was on BBC Radio 3.
They should play “Atom Heart Mother” during a Late Night Prom one of these years.
I’d be even more surprised (pleasantly or otherwise) if I heard James MacMillan’s “Seven Last Words” broadcast on BBC Radio 2. Mind you, hearing “Atom Heart Mother” on BBC Radio 2 seems even more unlikely.
Progressive non-classical music and avant-garde rock has historically been more at home on Radio 3 than on either Radio 1 or 2. It is hoped, often in vain, that it may find more receptive ears, and perhaps in time it will.
Rock music, as opposed to its ephemeral cousin, pop music, is only around 50 years old or so, and what most classical music exclusivists suppose constitutes serious rock music has as much to do with that music as James Last has to do with classical music.
Give it another 50 years and I suspect many of these silly labels, categories and barriers will have all but disappeared along with many of us whose listening has been blighted, to one degree or another, by having to endure them.
The first time I ever heard Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa was on BBC Radio 3 in the 1970s. John Peel played Beefheart quite a bit on Radio 1, pre-punk, but seldom after that. If one’s non-classical musical appetite extended that far beyond the charts mainstream, you had no chance. I’ve been listening to “Trout Mask Replica” quite a lot this week, and a bit of Larks’ Tongues-era King Crimson, Janáček, Sibelius, Marilyn Crispell, and the always-present Bach.
Of course, the BBC Radio 3 Marilyn Crispell broadcast I remember most clearly was back in 1993, when she and Eddie Prévost were featured. That performance lasted around 40 minutes.