ABC Classic FM found out when they made this year’s Classic 100 Countdown an all-French affair.

The three exalted Bs of classical music are Bach, Beethoven and Brahms – not Berlioz, Bizet and Boulez. The muscular Germanic tradition may reign supreme in the Classical and Romantic pantheon, but neighbouring France holds sway as a lover, not a fighter, seducing the ears with frissonsand parfumsall her own. What is it that makes this music sound so distinctly, enchantingly French? What esprit françaisunites centuries of disparate styles and movements under the tricolour?

The team at ABC Classic FM took it upon themselves to find out when they made this year’s Classic 100 Countdownan all-French affair – never has there been a better excuse to tuck into a croissant while tuning in. With the 150 thanniversary of Debussy’s birth looming large in the musical calendar, this is the first time the publicly voted list of classical favourites has been devoted to the music of a single culture and country. Why France, then? Touching on works from the Top 100 (and a few that should have made the cut, but – quelle horreur! –missed out)...

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