Discipline: Music Composition

Noel Farrand

Discipline: Music Composition
MacDowell Fellowships: 1953

Larchmont, New York, especially in the 1930s and early 1940s, was an exclusively suburban community, primarily Protestant, but with a sprinkling of Roman Catholics. Mr. and Mrs. Clair Farrand and their four boys lived next door to Edward Albee's family. Of all the neighbors, the Farrands were by far the closest to Edward. Mr. Farrand was an electronic engineer and inventor. He invented the cone loudspeaker in 1921 and later worked for Warner Bros. in Hollywood during the time that sound replaced silent movies. Noel Farrand, the youngest of Clair Farrand's sons, was a year and a half younger than Albee and became Albee's best friend and remained one of his closest friends for his entire life.

From the earliest of ages, Noel and Edward sparked each other's creative imagination. Both were great readers and were interested in music. Both thought about becoming composers. Noel eventually did become a composer and was Albee's entree into the world of music and musicians; many years later he introduced Albee to William Flanagan. Noel's own career never reached the heights of others in his life (beginning with Albee), but he was a highly articulate and intelligent man, a colorful and likeable character. He also had deep psychological problems and periods of manic depression, some of which could be traced back to his rigid Roman Catholic upbringing and the lack of encouragement he received for his creativity in his home.

Through many ordeals, physical as well as emotional, Noel always received support from Albee, who remained loyal to him even when others jettisoned him from their lives because of his bizarre behavior. At his most manic, Noel decided to have a music festival on Monhegan Island, ordered a piano to be shipped over from the mainland, and invited Robert F. Kennedy and Leonard Bernstein, among others.


Phi Beta

Noel Farrand worked in the Phi Beta studio.

Funded by the Phi Beta Fraternity, a national professional fraternity of music and speech founded in 1912, Phi Beta Studio was built between 1929–1931 of granite quarried on the MacDowell grounds. The small studio is a simple in design, but displays a pleasing combination of materials with its granite walls and colorful slate roofing. Inside is…

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