Radio France in chaos, concerts cancelled, strikes abound, head of music ‘is sacked’

Radio France in chaos, concerts cancelled, strikes abound, head of music ‘is sacked’


norman lebrecht

March 20, 2015

The situation at Radio France is described today as ‘out of control’. Musicians are raging at the cancellation of two orchestral concerts this weekend, five unions have gone on strike, the head of radio, Mattheiu Gallet, is under official investigation for a lavish office redecoration and the head of music, Jean-Pierre Rousseau, has not been seen at the radio all week.

Two inside sources tell Slipped Disc that Rousseau (pictured) has been sacked – after less than a year in the job. There has been no official word on his position.



  • Stephen says:

    “France Musique”, the so-called music programme, is dreadful and often known as “France Parlote” – radio chatter. Even at 5 in the morning someone is giving long, vague explanations and often playing percussive modern stuff. Last week we were told that Wagner (pronounced “Wagnère”) died ‘Some time towards the end of the 19th century’. The programme has been like this for 40 yeras and is badly in need of a rousing shake-up.

    • Pirkko says:

      Well, I like percussive modern stuff. Obviously I have to start listening to that channel.

    • Sixtus says:

      But sometimes they can produce something of value. The programs of last Monday’s Boulez Day are, for the most part, worth listening to over the fine France Musique online archive facility. Among the programs are fascinating early recordings of Boulez as conductor and composer.

    • T-arafanboy says:

      Cannot be worse than Mezzo TV where they think it is trendy to shout at you in different languages between the programs and at double the volume of the actual music.

    • Gonout Backson says:

      “Radio-parlote” is the oldest reproach addressed to France-Musique. The programme has not been “like this” for 40 years (why 40? why not 50 or 35?), because it’s been constantly changing, desperately looking for a viable profile, especially since the heavy concurrence of Radio-Classique has deprived it of much of its audience. The problem appears quite clearly in your statement: you cannot blame FM at the same time for “long vague explanations” – and then for… lack of those (the Wagner thing). This last bit comes from the last period where the new direction of Radio-France (the one in trouble) fired many “oldies” who “talked to much” and hired some “new blood” to make the program more “popular” in the Radio-Classique vein. But it has to play “contemporary music” for interesting reasons Mr Borstlap has frequently explained here. Summa summarum : France-Musique is in trouble because it has to satisfy many contradicting requirements and conflicting demands. Faced with these, Superman would shoot himself.

      • Stephen says:

        40 years because that is the time I have been living in France. Also I was complaining about contemporary music at 5 a.m., not in general as obviously this sort of music should be given an airing. I do not find the “new blood” any different from the old. Good talk about music is valuable – I remember people like Anthony Hopkins and Alec Robertson on the BBC – but vague chat, seemingly taking little account of who might be listening and of what worth it might be, is a plague.

    • MWnyc says:

      I regularly listen to concerts broadcast on France Musique via their réécouter/listen again feature. on which you can fast-forward past the chatter.

    • mary says:

      I must disagree; I most vehemently disagree with Stephen. France Musique is unarguably the best radio station in the world at this point in time. If you’ve been upset by electronic music or ‘parlote’ (which is unbelievably ridiculous) then you should become acquainted with France Musique’s schedule and avoid that which bothers you so much. I doubt that anything but non-stop Mozart/Hadyn/Chopin/Schumann/Schubert would please Stephan…sorry if I sound rude but his comment is unbelievable. Look at France Musique’s schedule, it is rich, varied, well balanced, certainly not ‘parlote’:

  • Michael says:

    Wagner has ALWAYS been pronounced Wagnère in French! Like Thatchère!

    • Gonout Backson says:

      Could be worse. Could be “Vanié”. They do Aïe-deun, Bétove and Bacque.

    • Stephen says:

      That is true, just as Mozart has always been pronounced in a manner recalling the introduction of a suppository. Incidentally, both Wagner and Verdi complained about the French deforming foreign names.

  • Graham says:

    Well, Highlight of the listening week is the Sunday morning ‘Sacred Music’ hour, always interesting and very well presented. We hope it returns for next week.