Philip Farkas and Solo Recordings

Several months ago I wrote a post titled Another Classic LP: Philip Farkas, French Horn Solos. I briefly described the album, and included a short sound clip, but was unable to pin down exactly when the recording was made, guessing sometime in the early 1960s.  As it turns out I was a little bit off in my guess, and I now have some more detailed information about the recording.  Recently I received an amazingly generous correspondence from Ron McIlroy of
Burnsville, MN.  Mr. McIlroy contacted me with the following message, quoted here by permission.

You had a post back in August on your Web blog called “Another Classic LP: Philip Farkas, French Horn Solos.” In this blog you wondered when this recording was made. I think I can shed some light on the topic. I was a high school student back in the late 60’s and Philip Farkas was my “horn” hero. I lived, breathed, and digested his book “The Art of French Horn Playing” and anything I could find or read about him. My biggest desire was to go to Indiana and study with him. I lived in Texas at the time and ultimately couldn’t afford the out-of-state tuition at Indiana. I wound up studying with Anthony Brittin at Texas Tech which worked out very well for me.

Anyway, during those high school years I wrote many letters to Philip Farkas. He was always very prompt about sending a reply back, faithfully typed out on his typewriter. Being somewhat of a “Pack Rat,” I saved all of these letters and recently pulled them out of storage. I am attaching PDF copies of two of the letters I received from him regarding his recordings. I hope you enjoy them as they are a peek back in time at one of our great all time horn players and teachers. In the first letter, dated in 1966, he admits he had done no recordings at that point but hoped to some day. The second letter, dated in 1968 during my freshman year at Texas Tech, he makes some very interesting comments about the difficulties he encountered trying to record “French Horn Solos.” I had apparently just received my copy of the record and wrote to congratulate him.

So based on the dates of these two letters, I think it is a pretty good bet to say this record was made sometime during late 1966 or sometime in 1967. I think you will enjoy the record even more after you read the circumstances he describes surrounding the making of this particular record.

Pretty interesting stuff!  I am indebted to Mr. McIlroy for allowing me to share his letter as well as the following memorabilia.  Here are the two letters he received from Philip Farkas, the first one apparently written before he recorded the solo album, and the second one not long after.  In a follow-up email, Ron also included some additional letters which pinpoint the recording date as sometime between March of 1967 and February of 1968, as well as some candid photographs he took of Farkas at the 2nd IHS Workshop held on the campus of Florida State University.  The first image is at the beginning of this post, and the second is included below the letters.

I definitely agree with Ron’s comment that I will “enjoy the record even more after you read the circumstances he describes surrounding the making of this particular record.” One other thing I’ve noticed reading these letters, and other correspondences (published in Nancy Jordan Fako’s book Philip Farkas and His Horn), is the warmth and concern Farkas had not just for his students, but for others as well.  His genuine interest in the lives of other people comes through despite the formal tone of these letters, and I think this is a characteristic we all could use a bit more of nowadays.  I hope you enjoy reading these letters as much as I have.  Thanks again Ron!

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