Peter Farnbank, Composer .



Peter Farnbank (LRSM) Composer, Musician, Psychologist




Thank you for visiting my world of music. The main aims of this website are: 

(a)  to send out a message that the musical language of our greatest classical composers did not die in the twentieth century; indeed there appears to be a growing revival of the musical language of that classical-romantic age, 

(b) to provide a basic resource for fellow aspiring composers, students and music lovers from which to develop their understanding and love of contemporary classical music, and 

(c) to promote the kind of contemporary music that I love - ie, tuneful, beautiful music which is free of the stoic constraints of classical music theories and rules, but which continues to evolve with each composer's individuality and creativity from such firm roots.

I hope my personal philosophy portrayed here about modern and contemporary classical music will resonate with yours. In seeking to promote that kind of modern classical music, inevitably my own music will also be featured, but I'll speak of living composers who keep the language of the Golden Age of Music alive. And if there is enough interest, I hope that we can start an interest group which will promote such music.

I can't boast an impressive CV nor profess to have outstanding credentials in music, although I'd love to be able to, but I do hope that what you find here will reflect sincerity and a passion for music which comes from the heart. My chosen profession is psychology, which I continue to practise full time.  

Psychology is my bread and butter, but my spiritual food is music. There are times when I can't help putting a morsel of my spiritual food onto my bread, and sometimes it's the other way round. After all, since psychology is about understanding human beings, their thoughts, feelings and behaviours, how can living in psychology day to day not help you to express yourself in music? Likewise, as a musician who appreciates the beauty of creation and the elated heights of a different consciousness to which perhaps only music can bring you, how can you not inject a little of that creativity and inspiration into your psychological consultations? 

Interestingly, the Chinese word for "psychology" is "xin-li-xue", which literally means "the study of heart and logic/mind", and both "heart"and "mind" play a big part in music too. Also, the Chinese for "psychologist" is "xin-li-yi-sheng" which literally means "doctor (healer) of heart and logic (mind)". And how many of us can honestly say that good music is not therapeutic?

I am also a violinist - and violist - and am privileged to have known Alan Powell (then in the Bournemouth Sinfonietta/Symphony Orchestra) and Mark Knight as my teachers. Alan once said that our claim to fame (haha) would be that his teacher was the pupil of Ottakar Sevcik. The Sevick school, among others, was also endorsed by Mark Knight, who taught me some startling stuff and deepened my love of Baroque music, especially the violin concertos of Vivaldi (no, not all 200-odd of them !) and JS Bach. All those gruelling Carl Flesch "Skalensystem" sessions among other things finally paid off - thanks to you, Mark.

I am largely a self-taught composer, and much of what I like to write is chamber music, especially with a string presence. I especially love the genre of the string orchestra, and feel the genre could still be expanded with modern sounds from what has already achieved by Carlo Martelli (who incidentally is an English composer - no kidding!).  I am indebted to my tutors at college, especially George Self and Geoffrey Boulton-Smith (pace), for inspiring me to compose music and taking time to study, play through and constructively comment on the type of modern classical music that I like(d) to write - it was indeed beyond their call of duty. 

I remember with affection how Geoffrey set me a summer holiday assignment at the end of my first year, among which was a composition for voice and viola only. This was to the poem "Amici Christi", for which he directed me to study Luciano Berio's works in this genre - long before I discovered those of Vaughan Williams, one of my most favourite composers. My score (for Sarah (soprano, 4th year student) and Ruth (viola, my (2nd) year) is long lost, but the experience of Summer 1974 pulled me into an undying love for folk-song across the world, which has stayed with me ever since. And I have a burning ambition one day to write at least one suite of folk songs from China, a country so rich in sociodiversity that it is virtually a continent in itself. George urged me to enter an international composers' competition after studying my score of "Triolino", but I was so unconfident at the time that I didn't take his advice, which I rather regretted. 

I am also indebted to John Gardner  (pace) (composer and at the time tutor at the Royal Academy of Music) at the Durham University summer school of 1981, whose words have been my eternal compass, "I think you should just compose how the h... you like and not care what anyone else thinks!". Thank you, John. In times of doubt as to whether my music is "substantive" or "modern enough", I still hear your voice dropping me that pearl of wisdom (over a pint, if you recall! Actually, it was more than one .... shhh!). 

Some of the pieces you can hear here will be extracts, others will be full pieces. Many of the scores (notably the string arrangements) can also be obtained directly from me, and if you are an amateur outfit these are free except for a modest coverage of postage etc. if applicable. But I'm sure I can email you pdf copies rather more easily.

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