Ferenc Farkas

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Ferenc Farkas, 1971

Ferenc Farkas (15 December 1905, in Nagykanizsa – 10 October 2000, in Budapest) was a Hungarian composer.

Biography[edit]

Ferenc Farkas playing the piano at home in Budapest, 1970

Born into a musical family (his father, who was an officer in the imperial army, played the cimbalom and his mother played the piano) Ferenc Farkas began his musical studies in Budapest, at the Protestant Gymnasium (Grammar School) and later attended the Music Academy, where he studied composition with Leó Weiner and Albert Siklós. After his graduation in 1927, he worked as a repetiteur and conductor at the Municipal Theatre of Budapest and collaborated with the Diaghilev Ballet. From 1929 to 1931, he attended Ottorino Respighi's masterclass at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome. The years he spent in Rome had a decisive influence on him. He became acquainted with Italian and Mediterranean culture to which he felt a deep attraction. About this he said: "My principal aim has always been to attain for myself a latin clarity and proportion.".[1]

Farkas returned to Budapest in the autumn of 1931. As he could not find any other assignments, he played the piano in various theatre orchestras. In 1932 he met the director Paul Fejos for whom he composed several film scores, first in Hungary, then in Vienna and Copenhagen. This collaboration was to be for Farkas the beginning of an impressive series of “applied” music (music for around 75 films and 44 theatre plays and radio plays).

In the spring of 1934 he conducted research of his own into traditional Hungarian music by collecting folk songs in Somogy County: "When I got back from my travels abroad, it became clear to me that the work and research of Bartók and Kodály raised crucial problems that we as Hungarians, had to resolve ourselves. ".[1]

From 1935 he taught at the Budapest City Music School. From 1941 to 1944 he was professor of composition and director at the Conservatory of Kolozsvàr (today Cluj-Napoca in Romania) and he conducted the city's Opera Chorus. At the end of 1944, because of the war, he had to go back to Hungary. During the siege of Budapest, he worked as the deputy conductor of the Opera Chorus. In 1946, he was sent to Székesfehérvár where he founded and managed the Conservatory. He was nominated professor of composition at the Franz Liszt Music Academy of Budapest in 1949, a post he held until his retirement in 1975. As a professor he was to have his greatest influence in the second half of the century. Among his students were: György Kurtág, György Ligeti, Emil Petrovics Attila Bozay Zsolt Durko, Zoltán Jeney, Miklós Kocsár, Sándor Szokolay and Lajos Vass.

Style[edit]

The three components of Farkas's very personal musical language are Italian neoclassicism, Hungarian folk music and twelve-tone serialism. His style is characterized by melodic invention, clear forms, a sense of colour and proportion, and lively and spontaneous rhythm.

"Sándor Jemnitz, the only Hungarian pupil of Schoenberg, writes about one of my concerts: "... It is as if the lure of resistance aroused his creative instinct. His versatile mastery recalls the proficiency and skill that the artists of yesteryear put to the service of their high ranking commissioners, complying faithfully with their imposed requirements of genre and style. So what is the true face of Farkas's music? In his youth he chose Respighi as his master. That was not a coincidence but certainly the result of a particular attraction. Probably the gracious and ethereal charm of Latin music corresponded to his profound sensitivity…”. These flattering lines reflect rightly my attraction to Latin elegance. But my major objective is more wide-ranging: my principal aim has always tried to attain for myself a Latin clarity and proportion. I could make this other quotation, taken from Hemingway, my own: "I never put a sentence down on paper until I believe I have so expressed it that it will be clear to anyone". And then there comes the search for something which actually already exists and which just has to be discovered. Like the sculptor who just pulls out of the mass of marble the sculpture it already contains, I try, from the motif, to bring out the most obvious and natural melody line. I seek the form in which the material feels at its best. ".[1]

Works[edit]

"From the beginning, I have been involved in all areas of music ; I have not wanted to create only a small corner of a room, full of atmosphere, with a personal and sophisticated taste, but spaces, large and small, arranged differently, pleasant to live in, with open windows".[1]

Farkas's works include over seven hundred opuses. He composed in all genres, opera, ballet, musicals and operettas, orchestral music, concertos, chamber music and sacred music. His wide literary culture enabled him to set words to music in 13 languages, stemmimg from about 130 writers and poets both ancient and modern.

Main works[edit]

Most of the works mentioned below are accompanied by an external link referring to a single source: the official website of Ferenc Farkas (see "External Links") which provides a detailed description of the work and a musical extract.

Stage music[edit]

  • Az Ember tragédiája (The tragedy of man), incidental music for the play by Imre Madách (1935)
  • A Bűvös szekrény (The magic cupboard), opera (1942)
  • Furfangos diákok (The sly students), ballet (1949, rev.1956)
  • Csínom Palkó, popular romantic opera (1960)
  • Piroschka, musical comedy (1964)
  • Egy Úr Velencéből, Casanova (A gentleman from Venice, Casanova), opera (1979-1980)

Works for symphony orchestra[edit]

Works for string orchestra[edit]

Concertos[edit]

Chamber music[edit]

Works for instrumental solos[edit]

Masses[edit]

Cantatas, oratorios[edit]

Works for mixed choir[edit]

Works for male choir[edit]

Works for female choir or children’s choir[edit]

  • Cantus fractus, 3 Hungarian gregorian melodies for unison female or children's choir, baritone solo and 3 guitars (1982)
  • Baszk dalok I / Euskal abestiak, 5 traditional songs, text in Basque and Hungarian (1986)
  • Magnificat for 3-part female or children’s choir and organ (1994)

Songs[edit]

Film music[edit]

  • Sonnenstrahl, film by Paul Fejos (1933)
  • People of the Mountains (Emberek a havason), film by István Szőts award-winning at the Venice Biennale in 1942 (1942)
  • Egy magyar nábob (The last of the nabobs), film by Zoltán Várkonyi (1966)
  • Kárpáthy Zoltán (Zoltán Kárpáthy), film by Zoltán Várkonyi (1966)
  • Egri csillagok (Stars of Eger), film by Zoltán Várkonyi (1968)
  • Csínom Palkó, film by Márton Keleti and Gyula Mészáros (1973)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Extract from Im Schatten Bartòks, Geständnis eines Komponisten (In Bartòk’s shadow, the confession of a composer), a lecture presented by Ferenc Farkas at the Österreichische Gesellschaft für Musik, Vienna, May 22, 1967

Annexes[edit]

Complete catalogue[edit]

Complete catalogue of works 2011. Complete catalogue of works by Ferenc Farkas developed by Andràs Farkas, the son of the composer. This catalogue includes many musical samples.

Repertoire by instrument[edit]

Repertoire by instrument established from the complete catalogue of works by Andràs Farkas to facilitate the research. The listed instruments are: violin, viola, cello, bass, guitar, harp, dulcimer, flute, recorder, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, Alphorn, trumpet, trombone, tuba, saxophone, tarogato, piano, harpsichord, organ, accordion.

Bibliography[edit]

  • László Gombos, Vallomások a zenéről, Farkas Ferenc válogatott írásai, Budapest : Püski, 2004
  • László Gombos, Ferenc Farkas, English translated by Eszter Orbán, collection « Hungarian Composers » no 31, Budapest : Màgus Publishing, 2005

External links[edit]

  • Ferenc Farkas' official website developed by Andràs Farkas, the son of the composer in English, with biography and description of works in several languages and musical samples, currently some 160 works.