In one of the more interesting dialogues on the state of Music, Culture and Society during the late 1960s/early 1970s, this interview/panel/talk show/free-for-all featuring L.A. Philharmonic Music director Zubin Mehta, Los Angeles Music Center and L.A. Phil. Manager Ernest Fleischmann, Frank Zappa and film-music composer David Raksin took place in the studios of KPFK in Los Angeles. Hosted by station Classical Music Director William Strother, the interview which was broadcast on April 21, 1971 is possibly from earlier, even the previous year.
It is typical, almost stereotypical of the type of discussions taking place where music was concerned in those days. Mehta confessed to having no clear idea of what Rock was about. Zappa saw the Classical music community as a dying-off breed with no one around to take its place. Fleischmann saw the possibilities but not necessarily the popularity of the suggestions made during the chats. In the end, Mehta announced he was hungry and hadn’t eaten dinner yet – and the discussion came to an abrupt end.
And that’s pretty much the way it went – the way many discussions went in the 60s and 70s. A lot of pronouncements, a lot of cautious maneuvering, a lot of one-upping – and in the end, not much accomplished. Everyone walked away, convinced the other was wrong, didn’t get it and would never get it right. And even though attempts at break-throughs were tried – such as the infamous L.A. Philharmonic/Mothers Of Invention UCLA Pauly Pavilion concert of 1970, which was proclaimed a howling disaster by many in the Arts community and an interesting, somewhat strange get-together by many in the Rock community – it knocked down no walls, until Procol Harum showed up at the Hollywood Bowl with the Philharmonic a few years later and worked out a successful musical negotiation.
But to give you an idea of where things were, at least in Los Angeles, between Frank Zappa and the bastion of Musical hierarchy, here is that discussion, broadcast on KPFK in April of 1971.