© 2024 WRTI
Your Classical and Jazz Source
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

A Happy 90th Birthday Tribute to Former Philadelphia Orchestra Cellist Marcel Farago

Cellist and composer Marcel Farago

Tune in on Thursday, April 17th during the 1 pm hour for a very special 90th birthday tribute to a very special musician and composer. Marcel Farago, longtime cellist with the Philadelphia Orchestra (1955 to 1994) composed In Memoriam in 1989, dedicated to his wife Adele who died in 1988. Ricardo Muti and The Philadelphia Orchestra premiered the work in the same year. Join us to hear Marcel Farago's In Memoriam as we celebrate his 90th.

Born in Romania in 1924, Farago was a musician living in Budapest when the Nazis invaded. Adele, who was Catholic, hid him and several other Jews in the basement of her house - risking her life in the process. Later recognized as a "Righteous Gentile," Adele married Marcel in 1950 in Paris, and the couple then moved to South Africa, and eventually to Philadelphia where he was hired by Eugene Ormandy to join the Orchestra.

Marcel told The Philadelphia Inquirer in 1989, "After my wife died...a friend came to me and said he wanted me to write a work in her memory. He asked not to have his name revealed, but he said he didn't care what it might cost to write the music and copy the parts for performance. If it cost more than he had, he said he could raise the rest. We approached Maestro Muti, who of course did not have to play it, but he agreed to look at the work when I had it finished. I asked for no promises. Anyway, once I started, it went very quickly. I finished the composition and the scoring in a couple of months last winter. Muti read through it and agreed to conduct the premiere. This is not a portrait of my wife...but it does express some feelings I have about her. Actually, it includes a theme from my earlier Prayer, a piece for cello and piano. That was a favorite of hers, and I have the English horn play a bit of the opening phrase from Prayer. We had 42 years together."

Happy 90th birthday, Marcel Farago!