Holton-Farkas is a product line of French horns and mouthpieces created through the joint venture of musical instrument manufacturer Frank Holton & Co. and legendary horn virtuoso Philip Farkas. The first model was released in 1958, and although no new models are being made (Farkas died in 1992), the series is still being manufactured today. These professional-grade horns and mouthpieces are regarded as some of the best in the market, and are the most popular for non-professional horn players.
The production of the Holton-Farkas was an opportunity for Holton to overhaul its line of French horns with the help of a renowned horn player, Philip Farkas. Farkas and personnel from Holton worked closely together on all aspects of the line. In the business agreement, Farkas agreed to advise, test, and assist in the creation of the horns, and once created, to endorse and market them. In exchange, Holton agreed to furnish these horns for Farkas' personal use and pay him a percentage of the net selling price.
The creation of the Holton-Farkas line was a product of chance. In early 1956, Farkas and two executives from Holton, Elliot Kehl and Theodore Kexel, were invited to dinner with Traugott Rohner, who published the magazine The Instrumentalist. Both parties were there for his own reasons: Farkas because he was writing an article, and Kehl and Kexel for discussions on advertising. The idea for a partnership came about over dinner conversation. Farkas recollects:
As we sat around talking, one of them said to me, "You're a horn player, what do you think of the Holton horn?" I replied, undiplomatically, "I think it's one of the worst horns I've ever played." Instead of getting mad, they looked at each other and grinned. "Well," one of them said, "I guess that's the reason why we only sold eight last year." They then asked me to design a horn for them.
Despite the chance nature of this meeting, Farkas had already considered the idea of creating a horn earlier in his life. This being so, he promptly agreed to Holton's proposal.
The foundational work on the Holton-Farkas line took place from 1956 until the first model (77) was released in 1958. The Holton-Farkas line was given much attention during this phase by both Farkas and Holton. Farkas, Arvid Walters (Holton's lead designer), and Elliot Kehl met several times a week to collaborate. Also, Holton produced entirely new tooling in order to consistently produce the quality of horn that Holton and Farkas sought after. The leaders of this project quickly formed a smooth working relationship. Of the work environment in this early stage, Nancy Fako, the author of a biography on Farkas and one of his former students, said,
Phil impressed everyone with his constant attention to the smallest details and his unflagging search for perfection. Elliot Kehl was the perfect person with whom to collaborate, as he also demanded perfection in all that he undertook. For this reason many people found him difficult to work with, but he and Phil formed a solid, efficient team.
Changes in personnel and the project itself took place after the release of the first model.
Farkas' physical presence at the Holton factory was largely replaced by correspondence through letter and phone. His job now was to promote the horns he helped create, though he frequently offered his help and advice. He was rarely seen without one of these horns and actively endorsed them.
In 1964, Frank Holton & Co. was bought by G. Leblanc Corp., a woodwind manufacturer, and in 2004, the two companies were bought by Steinway Musical Instruments, Conn-Selmer division. Despite some changes in management and staffing, Farkas' advice was still much sought after, and he continued to play and market the horns until his death in 1992.
|Model||Year||Type of horn||Currently in production||Plating||Throat||Wrap||Bell|
|Model 77||1958||Double||No||Yellow Brass||Medium||Kruspe-style||Fixed|
|H-181||Unknown||Double||Yes||Yellow Brass/Bronze bell||Large||Kruspe-style||Fixed|
|H-175 "Merker Matic"||Unknown||Double||Yes||Nickel Silver||Large||Kruspe-style||Fixed|
|H-176 "Merker Matic"||Unknown||Double||Yes||Nickel Silver/Bronze bell||Large||Kruspe-style||Fixed|
|H-189 "Merker Matic"||Unknown||Double||Yes||Nickel Silver||Extra Large||Kruspe-style||Fixed|
|H-275 "Merker Matic"||Unknown||Double||Yes||Nickel Silver||Large||Kruspe-style||Detachable|
|H-276 "Merker Matic"||Unknown||Double||Yes||Nickle Silver/Bronze bell||Large||Kruspe-style||Detachable|
|H-289 "Merker Matic"||Unknown||Double||Yes||Nickel Silver||Extra Large||Kruspe-style||Detachable|
|H-104 "Tuckwell"||1990||Double||No||Red Brass/Bronze bell||Large||Kruspe-style||Detachable (Bayonet fitting)|
|H-105 "Tuckwell"||Unknown||Double||No||Nickel Silver/Bronze bell||Large||Kruspe-stye||Detachable|
|H-109 "Ultra Farkas"||1991||Double||No||Nickel Silver||Large||Kruspe-style||Fixed|
|H-209 "Ultra Farkas"||1991||Double||No||Nickel Silver||Large||Kruspe-style||Detachable|
|H-378||Unknown||Intermediate Double||Yes||Yellow Brass||Medium||Kruspe-style||Fixed|
|H-379||Unknown||Intermediate Double||Yes||Nickel Silver||Medium||Kruspe-style||Fixed|
|H-281||Unknown||Double||Yes||Yellow Brass/Bronze bell||Large||Kruspe-style||Detachable|
French horn mouthpieces
A table of the different Farkas H2850 French Horn mouthpiece models and their features follows.
|Model||Cup Depth||Rim Shape||Inside Cup Diameter (mm)||Outside Cup Diameter (mm)||Throat (mm)|
|MDC||Medium Deep||Medium Wide||16.21||24.33||4.62|
|XDC||Extra Deep||Medium Narrow||16.94||24.20||5.23|
- "Farkas/Holton Horns". Archived from the original on 20 April 2011. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
- Bellamah, Joseph L. Survey of Modern Brass Teaching Philosophies, San Antonio : Southern Music Publishing, 1976, cited in Nancy Fako(biography). "Philip Farkas & His Horn". Crescent Park Music Publications, 1998, p.258
- Fako, Nancy Jordan (1998). Philip Farkas & his horn : a happy, worthwhile life. Elmhurst, Ill.: Crescent Park Music Publ. pp. 121–126. ISBN 0-9662587-0-3.
- Stewart, M. Dee (1990). Philip Farkas: The Legacy of a Master. Northfield, Illinois: The Instrumentalist Publishing Company.
- Fako, Nancy Jordan (1998). Philip Farkas & his horn : a happy, worthwhile life. Elmhurst, Ill.: Crescent Park Music Publ. pp. 181, 278–281. ISBN 0-9662587-0-3.
- Mansurl, Paul. "Re: [Hornlist] Re: Holton Farkas Models". Retrieved October 27, 2011.
- "History of Frank Holton & Co". Retrieved 27 October 2011.
- "Holton Farkas Mouthpieces". Retrieved 27 October 2011.
- "Holton Farkas Mouthpieces". Archived from the original on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 4 November 2011.