Erwin Frankel Dies at 76; Brought World Music to U.S.

From The New York Times:

Erwin Frankel, a radio host and concert promoter who broadened the American cultural palette by introducing audiences to Andean pan flute music, the whirling dervishes of Turkey, and the notion of belly dancing as an art form fit for Carnegie Hall, died on Feb. 18 in New York City. He was 76.

The cause was complications of a series of strokes, his son Gideon said.

Mr. Frankel, who became an impresario of “world music” decades before the term was coined, had his widest audience as a prophet of musical eclecticism when he was the host of a one-hour nightly show on WABC-FM, “Music From Around the World,” which was broadcast from 1959 to 1972.

The program became a showcase for performers who played ouds, doumbeks and kalumbus; sang native Portuguese ballads known as fado, or played any kind of folk music that his audience had never heard, including Creole zydeco, then relatively unknown outside Louisiana. Most often, the musical selections came from Mr. Frankel’s personal collection of more than 9,000 LP records.

Mr. Frankel, who began booking and promoting concerts in the 1950s, devoted himself to the business full time after his radio show was canceled. He booked prominent American performers like Dizzy Gillespie, Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie but was mostly noted for producing concerts at Town Hall and Lincoln Center for international stars who were less known in the United States.

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