The “Jelky András Suite” was written to commission, around the end of 1973 and January 1974, for the town of Baja in southern Hungary. As a child Farkas spent several summer holidays with his grandparents in Baja, where he read the incredible but true story of the local figure András Jelky (1738-83) : Jelky set out as a journeyman but in Bavaria and Holland was conscripted into the army; on the way to India he was shipwrecked; he was a tailor on a Dutch ship; returning home from South America he was kidnapped by pirates and sold as a slave; after his escape he was a soldier in China and Indonesia; he was captured by cannibals; and finally became a rich plantation owner in Java, and travelled as Indonesian diplomat in Oceania and Japan.
His adventures are illustrated in music, as if the protagonist himself were the narrator: for the fundamental thread of the work is the language of Hungarian music, which is merely adorned with oriental and exotic colouring. The string ensemble is supplemented with a piano. As well as traditional sounds the piece contains many special effects: the players strike the strings with their palms, or the body of the instrument with the end of the bow; at other times a timpani stick is used to strike the lower strings of the piano or the pianist has to hit the lid of the keyboard with the palm of his hand.
The piece begins with the start of the intrepid young man’s journey, and a storm at sea. In the following movements is a musical portrait of Ali Hussein in Algeria, Fu Kong, the cruel gourmet mandarin, Kwanga, the native girl in Ceylon who saved his life, and Ramayun the fakir stylite. The work closes with a coda formed from the retrograde of the folksong at the beginning of the first movement.
Complete catalogue of work by Ferenc Farkas
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List of works by instrument
String instruments : violin, viola, violoncello, double bass, guitar, harp, cimbalom
Wind instruments : flute / recorder, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, Alphorn, trumpet, trombone, tuba, saxophone, tarogato
Keyboard instruments : piano, harpsichord, organ, accordion
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