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Peter Meanwell Peter Meanwell | 13:58 UK Time, Friday, 19 October 2012

John Cale, founder of the Velvet Undergound, photographed in the 1960s

John Cale

It's easy to compartmentalise music, to impose divisions of high and low art - music for the old, music for the young - but increasingly, as I turn my radio on, any boundaries I may have thought existed have been melting away. Just so this Sunday morning, as the ever excellent Cerys Matthews show on 6Music segued from Late Junction-favourite Riley Baugus playing the old-time classic June Apple into the station's celebration of the Velvet Underground and an interview with pioneering experimental musician and Velvet Underground founding member John Cale. As he chatted about his young musical life in Wales and London, he talked of his love of Varèse, Cage, Berio, Stockhausen, and his involvement with Morton Feldman.

These composers, corner stones of musical exploration over the last century, are all subjects of 50 Modern Classics, the weekly podcast from Radio 3's Hear and Now, exploring key compositions from the 20th Century. Through listening to them, and Cale, it's possible to build a real picture of how the world of experimental composition and art school experimentation created the breeding ground for some of the most exciting music in the last 60 years. It's at moments like these when you realise that great music is just a continuum of boundary-pushing and exploration, and whether it's regarded as for the concert hall, or for the dance floor, it all makes for great listening. Perhaps Radio 3 and 6 Music listeners have more in common than we ever thought.

Peter Meanwell is a producer for BBC Radio 3



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