As the year ended, France’s state-owned classical-music station started making mildly alarming announcements. A new France-Musique was coming, said a deep male voice, the kind usually heard in beer commercials, and listeners would find that music had never “touched” them so “closely.” Various on-the-air producers used the traditional New Year’s Eve greetings to announce they were being moved to time-slot Siberia or dropped altogether, and some made bitter speeches.
There was some reason for alarm. One way of bringing music closer to listeners was to multiply celebrity sound bites, as when movie executive Daniel Toscan du Plantier told us what he has on his record shelf at home. Then there are the man-in-the-street interviews, one of which resulted in something like this: “Mozart year didn’t matter to me, I’m not interested in that kind of music.”