Ferenc Farkas

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Ferenc Farkas

Ferenc Farkas was born in Nagykanizsa, Hungary, in December 1905. He studied composition with Albert Sikós and Leó Weiner at the Budapest Academy of Music and continued his studies with Ottorino Respighi at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome. Ferenc Farkas was Professor of Composition at the Conservatory of Kolozsvár from 1941 to 1944 and also served as its director during his last year there. In 1949 Farkas was appointed Professor of Composition at the Budapest Academy of Music, a post which he held until his retirement in 1975. His pupils included Attila Bozay, Axolt Durkó, György Kurtág, György Ligeti, Emil Petrovics, Sándor Szokolay and many other prominent Hungarian composers.

In 1950, Ferenc Farkas was awarded the highest Hungarian government decoration for artistic merit, the Kossuth Prize. In 1979, he was given the Herder Prize by the F.V.Stiftung in Hamburg.

This interview was conducted in the spring of 1991.

Gaál: First of all, I would like to congratulate you on your 85th birthday which you celebrated last December and wish you continuing good health and happiness. When did you first begin to compose for harp?

Farkas: In my early compositions for orchestra, I always gave the harp part an important role. My first composition for harp solo, however, was Concertino, written in 1937 for the Budapest Municipal Orchestra and Mrs. Anna Molnár.

Gaál: Was Concertino performed outside of Hungary?

Farkas: Soon after the first performance in Budapest, a second performance was given by Mireille Flour in Brussels, followed by performances in London by Maria Korchinska, in Rome by Ada Sassoli, and in Frankfurt by Rosa Stein. Later in Hungary, the work was performed again by Liana Pasquali. Concertino was recorded in Germany by Rosa Stein and in Belgium by Mireille Flour.

Gaál: What are your feelings about writing for the harp?

Farkas: In 1937 I tried to utilize what I felt was the most generally neglected characteristic of the harp - the melodic line. I avoided the arpeggio and glissando as much as possible. In 1956, however, with the help of Professor Miklós Rékai at the Budapest Conservatory, I rewrote Concertino. I wrote what I consider to be a more "successful" role for the harp and included the previously "avoided" glissandi and arpeggi, added cadenzas, and thinned out the orchestral background in the first and third movements. The new version was then played in Hungary by Hédy Lubik and several times in Germany by Gyula Dalló.

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