Farwell, Arthur (George)

views updated

Farwell, Arthur (George)

Farwell, Arthur (George), American composer and music educator; b. St. Paul, Minn., April 23, 1872; d. N.Y., Jan. 20, 1952. He studied at the Mass. Inst. of Technology, graduating in 1893, and then music with Homer Norris and George Chadwick in Boston, Humperdinck and Pfitzner in Berlin (1897–99), and Guilmant in Paris. He was a lecturer on music at Cornell Univ. (1899–1901). From 1909 to 1914 he was on the editorial staff of Musical America, and also directed municipal concerts in N.Y. City (1910–13); then was director of the Settlement Music School in N.Y. (1915–18). He was acting head of the music dept. at the Univ. of Calif., Berkeley (1918–19). In 1919 he founded the Santa Barbara Community Chorus, which he conducted until 1921. He later taught theory at Mich. State Coll. in East Lansing (1927–39). Farwell was a pioneer in new American music, and tirelessly promoted national ideas in art. He contributed to various ethnological publications. From 1901 to 1911 he operated the WaWan Press (Newton, Mass.), a periodical (quarterly, 1901–07; monthly, 1907–11) that printed piano and vocal music of “progressive” American composers of the period, the emphasis being on works that utilized indigenous (black, Indian, and cowboy) musical materials. Disillusioned about commercial opportunities for American music, including his own, he established at East Lansing, in 1936, his own lithographic handpress, with which he printed his music, handling the entire process of reproduction, including the cover designs, by himself.


A Letter to American Composers (N.Y., 1903); with W. Dermot Darby, Music in America in The Art of Music, IV(N.Y, 1915).


ORCH The Death of Virginia, symphonic poem (1894); Academic Overture: Cornell (1900); Dawn, fantasy on Indian themes (1904; orig. for Piano); The Domain of Hurakan (1910; orig. for Piano); Symbolistic Study No. 3, after Whitman’s Once I Passed Through a Populous City (1905; rev. 1921; Philadelphia, March 30, 1928); Symphonic Poem on March! March for Orch. and Chorus ad libitum (1921); The Gods of the Mountain, suite from the incidental music to Dunsany’s play (1928;

Minneapolis, Dec. 13, 1929); Concerto for 2 Pianos and Strings (1931; CBS, May 28, 1939; orig. Symbolistic Study No. 6: Mountain Vision for Piano); Rudolph Gott Symphony (1932–34); Navao Dance No. 1 (1944; orig. for Piano); The Heroic Breed, in memoriam General Patton (1946). CHAMBER: Fugue Fantasy for String Quartet (1914); String Quartet, The Hako (1922); Violin Sonata (1927; rev. 1935); Piano Quintet (1937); Suite for Flute and Piano (1949); Cello Sonata; many piano pieces. VOCAL: Many pieces for Chorus and Orch., school choruses, and songs; music for pageants and masques, including Caliban for MacKaye’s Shakespeare tercentenary masque (1915) and incidental music to C.W. Stevenson’s The Pilgrimage Way (1920–21). OTHER: Collections of American Indian melodies and folk songs of the South and West; arrangements of American Indian melodies.


E. Kirk, Toward American Music: A Study of the Life and Music ofA.G. F. (diss., Univ. of Rochester, 1958); B. Farwell et al., Guide to the Music of A. F. and to the Microfilm Collection of His Work (Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., 1971); E. Culbertson, He Heard America Singing: A. F., Composer and Crusading Music Educator (Metuchen, N.J., 1992).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire