About Frank French
How does one categorize a musician immersed in European Classical traditions from the time of Bach to the 20th Century, but also intensely responsive to the music of New Orelans, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Brazil?
Frank French answers the riddle by synthesizing all these various styles into his own formulation as a pianist and composer. Although it might seem obvious that anyone born to the Rhythm and Blues of the 1950’s, growing up in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury district and studying the Classics at the Conservatory of Music would likely enough emerge with such an artistic makeup, it is not as though there are no other historical parallels or models for this kind of musical life.
In earlier times the great American musical pioneer, Louis Moreau Gottschalk successfully connected the musical traditions of Europe and Africa in his most important piano compositions dating from the 1850s. It was no accident that Frank French discovered a musical affinity for Gottschalk and became a premiere interpreter of his music. In his unique one-man presentation of Gottschalk’ s life and music, French weaves musical selections in with the composer’s diary to paint a vivid picture in historical context. With Gottschalk, begins this saga of music making, composing and identifying continuing tradition and legacy that is truly Pan-American in it’s scope and outlook.
The use of the pianoforte in the way espoused by French implies a distinctive musical territory placing the sound of the Western Hemisphere properly in the larger context of World Music. In this realm the musical imagination revolves round the piano which may be coaxed like a harp in one moment, and beaten like a drum in the next. Here is expressed the contrast of genteel Romanticism and the savage emotive power evoked in a more rugged way of life. Thus is the artistic sentiment now projected onto a landscape of rough and ready ways and means. Manifest in this is the dynamic attraction of spirit to earth.
Over the past 40 years Frank French has performed and recorded this music in community concerts, educational venues, on radio and television. He has criss-crossed the globe from Europe to North America, to Australia, performing at numerous international music festivals in France, Finland, Germany and throughout North America and Oceana, from the Maine coast to the Gold Coast, from Toronto to Santiago de Cuba. His music speaks a language larger than life though his many performances and recordings.