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Is post-World War I Stravinsky better for community radio?

I was listening to KPFA’s Sunday morning classical music show yesterday, and suddenly they played Igor Stravinsky’s Histoire du Soldat and I thought: maybe there are two kinds of Stravinsky for two kinds of public radio stations. For the big grand classical music stations like WQXR-FM in New York City, the pre-World War I ballets with their huge gorgeous sounds are best. But for community stations like KPFA, the more chamber-music oriented pieces that Stravinsky wrote from 1918 onward seem more appropriate. I’m talking about stuff like the Histoire and the Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments; that sort of stripped down fare that the big mainstream classical signals never play. In fact, I vaguely remember that a billion years ago KPFA did a birthday celebration of itself that started with Stravinsky’s “Happy Birthday” Greeting Prelude.

Meanwhile thank you City Editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for bringing John Cain, legendary jazz programmer of KABF-FM, to my attention via Twitter:

“THE ARTIST — LIVING OR DEAD — I WOULD MOST LIKE TO SEE PERFORM IS John Coltrane,” Cain discloses in his Gazette profile. “I guess because when I really grew up and discovered [jazz], I seemed closer to him than [Charlie Parker].” Reading this, I feel like I’m back to the two Stravinskys issue again. Parker definitely has that angular, stripped down feeling, while Coltrane is the big lush ballet guy, especially in renditions like My Favorite Things. Interesting that Cain would see the two artists as either/or choices.

I am working on my fourth Hybrid Highbrow podcast, which will focus on jazz renditions of the work of Bela Bartok. I had no idea that there were so many jazz homages to Bartok. I’ll have to choose three or four, which will be tough.


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