Holton-Farkas

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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.[1] 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.[2]

History[edit]

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.[3]

Conception[edit]

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:[3]

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.[4]

Despite the chance nature of this meeting, Farkas had already considered the idea of creating a horn earlier in his life.[4] This being so, he promptly agreed to Holton's proposal.

1956–58[edit]

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.[3][4] 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.[3]

Renold Schilke, another prominent musician and entrepreneur, also aided in the work on the new Holton-Farkas horns in August 1956.[3]

Post-1958[edit]

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.[5] He was rarely seen without one of these horns and actively endorsed them.[6]

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.[7] 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.[5]

Models[edit]

Together, Holton and Farkas produced 18 different models of horns and 6 different mouthpieces. Many models are almost identical, with one or two key differences.[1][5][8]

French horns[edit]

Features common to the Holton-Farkas horn include a waterkey, .468" bore, .310 venturi mouthpipe, and 12 1/4" tapered bell. A table of the different models and their features follows.[1][3]

Model Year Type of horn Currently in production Plating Throat Wrap Bell
Model 77 1958 Double No Yellow Brass Medium Kruspe-style Fixed
H-177 1964 Double Yes Nickel Silver Medium Kruspe-style Fixed
H-178 1964 Double Yes Yellow Brass Medium Kruspe-style Fixed
H-179 1964 Double Yes Nickel Silver Large Kruspe-style Fixed
H-180 1964 Double Yes Yellow Brass Large Kruspe-style Fixed
H-181 Unknown Double Yes Yellow Brass/Bronze bell Large Kruspe-style Fixed
H-190 1964-1989? Double No Yellow Brass Small Geyer-style Fixed
H-191 Unknown Double No Yellow Brass Small Geyer-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-200 Unknown Descant Yes Yellow Brass Large Geyer-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-277 1964 Double Yes Nickel Silver Medium Kruspe-style Detachable
H-278 1964 Double Yes Yellow Brass Medium Kruspe-style Detachable
H-279 1964 Double Yes Nickel Silver Large Kruspe-style Detachable
H-280 1964 Double Yes Yellow Brass Large Kruspe-style Detachable
H-281 Unknown Double Yes Yellow Brass/Bronze bell Large Kruspe-style Detachable

French horn mouthpieces[edit]

A table of the different Farkas H2850 French Horn mouthpiece models and their features follows.[9]

Model Cup Depth Rim Shape Inside Cup Diameter (mm) Outside Cup Diameter (mm) Throat (mm)
SC Shallow Medium Wide 16.87 24.80 4.32
MC Medium Medium Wide 16.81 25.20 4.62
MDC Medium Deep Medium Wide 16.21 24.33 4.62
DC Deep Medium 17.07 24.64 4.83
VDC Very Deep Narrow 16.71 23.16 5.23
XDC Extra Deep Medium Narrow 16.94 24.20 5.23

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Farkas/Holton Horns". Archived from the original on 20 April 2011. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  2. ^ 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
  3. ^ a b c d e f 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. 
  4. ^ a b c Stewart, M. Dee (1990). Philip Farkas: The Legacy of a Master. Northfield, Illinois: The Instrumentalist Publishing Company. 
  5. ^ a b c 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. 
  6. ^ Mansurl, Paul. "Re: [Hornlist] Re: Holton Farkas Models". Retrieved October 27, 2011. 
  7. ^ "History of Frank Holton & Co". Retrieved 27 October 2011. 
  8. ^ "Holton Farkas Mouthpieces". Retrieved 27 October 2011. 
  9. ^ "Holton Farkas Mouthpieces". Archived from the original on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 4 November 2011. 

External links[edit]