Frank French
San Francisco, California
Updated 9/10/07

Frank French, was born in Oakland, California in 1952 and grew up in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury district. A survivor of the Psychedelic 1960's, he became part of the city’s "outside" music scene in the early 1970's while completing his musical education at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and San Francisco State University. It was during this time that he became acquainted with Cuban and Puerto Rican dance music as pianist with "Papo y su Preferida", noting the immediate connection between Antillean music and piano Ragtime.

Moving to Vienna, Austria in the late 1970's he assumed the lifestyle of a Bohemian, tuning pianos by day and bolstering Vienna’s counter-cultural cabaret scene by night. Teaming up with Latin Americans living here, he formed one of the earliest Salsa bands in Central Europe, introducing the music to Austrians, Swiss and Germans, and paving the way for noted performers like Ray Baretto to make debut performances in that part of the world. During his Austrian residence he also found time to record the entire Well-Tempered Clavier of J.S. Bach, thus securing a firm footing in the music of both the Old and New Worlds.

Returning to the United States in 1983 he became a noted figure in the world of syncopated piano music, first as a performer and later as composer of such notable and widely- recorded instrumentals as Belle of Louisville and Bucktown Buck. Moving to Colorado in 1990, he founded and directed the Rocky Mountain Ragtime Festival and Institute working as a musical activist in schools, community concerts, radio and community television. In 1996 he visited Cuba with the Pianos to Havana project and subsequently concertized in Cuba and the United States raising funds to send pianos and technical support to music schools in Cuba and to improve relations between people of both nations.

French, whose original compositions are known and loved by a wide audience, also possesses vast repertoire of music ranging from of Bach’s “Well-Tempered Clavier” to the Brazilian tangos and Choros of Ernesto Nazareth. His voice strikes at the core of American heartland instrumental music in his most widely-revered work “Belle of Louisville” No single performer has done more to revive interest in the music of Louis Moreau Gottschalk, who first showed us the way through the Creole traditions of Louisiana, Cuba and Latin America. French is the man who has continued to blaze this path into the 21st century connecting the dots through Jazz and popular music to the 19th century traditions.