December 15, 1905 - October 10, 2000
born in Nagykanizsa, Hungary, composed during the Modern period
In a life extending nearly the entire breadth of the twentieth century, Hungarian composer Ferenc Farkas fashioned a personal idiom of refreshing vitality. In form, largely diatonic, it spoke a richer language, one of harmonic variety, rhythmic energy, and melodic appeal. In addition to his career as a creative musician, he was a respected pedagogue whose pupils included György Ligeti, Sándor Szokolay, and György Kurtág. Further, he wrote on musical subjects for various publications, particularly on issues of folk music.
Beginning his piano training at age eight, Farkas studied privately at first, later at the National Conservatory in Budapest. After completion of his secondary education, he studied composition with Albert Sikós and Leó Weiner at the Budapest Academy of Music, receiving his diploma in 1927. For two years he served as an assistant conductor at Budapest's Municipal Theatre. Winning a state-funded scholarship, he was then able to journey to Italy to participate in advanced composition courses taught by Ottorino Respighi at Rome's Accademia di Santa Cecilia. Apart from his studies, he seized the opportunity to travel in Italy and through the Iberian peninsula. When Farkas returned to Budapest in 1930, he made his professional debut performing a recital of his own compositions. In 1933, he traveled once more, this time to Vienna. The following year, he went to Denmark to work in film scoring for the Nordisk Company. Another journey took him to Paris before he was appointed in 1935 to be instructor of composition at Budapest's advanced Municipal Music School. After serving as professor of music at Kolozsvár's Conservatory of Music beginning in 1941, Farkas was appointed the institution's director in 1943. A similar position at Székesfehérvar in 1946 preceded his appointment as professor of music at the Budapest Academy of Music, a post he held until his retirement in 1975. Much honored, Farkas was awarded the Hungarian Liszt Prize in 1933, the Ferenc Jóseph Prize in 1934, the Klebelsberg Prize in 1943, and in 1950, Hungary's highest honor for artistic achievement: the Kossuth Prize. From 1932 to 1973, Farkas contributed scores to 29 films. Five operas occupied him between 1942 and 1980, The Magic Cupboard first among them. His incidental music for plays, especially those by Shakespeare, remains significant. ~ Erik Eriksson, Rovi