Whom the Gods Love.....Richard Farrell

Richard Farrell 
(born, Wellington, New Zealand,1926: died, Arundel, Sussex, England,1958)

Article by Peter Mechen
Had fate not intervened on the night of May 27th 1958, on a country road in Sussex, England, when a car unaccountably left the road and hit a tree, killing all three of the vehicle's occupants, the year 2006 might well have been a year in which the musical world celebrated New Zealand-born Richard Farrell's 80th birthday, and a career which would almost certainly have brought him acclaim as one of the world's great pianists. As Farrell was, sadly, a passenger in that car, there are now few tangible remains of that promise - some recordings (none of which are commercially available at present), collections of programmes and press-cuttings testifying to the young pianist's wide range of repertoire and the extent of critical response to his playing, and a body of memorabilia in various forms - letters, photographs, people's personal reminiscences, an out-of-print 1986 "memoir" which purports to be a biography of sorts (1), a street in Auckland's Remuera which bears his name, and a neglected grave in St.Pancras's Cemetery, in London.
Farrell was one of a number of prodigiously talented young musicians who prematurely lost their lives through accident or disease during the 1950s - among them fellow-pianists Dinu Lipatti and William Kapell, conductors Guido Cantelli and Ataulfo Argenta, horn-player Dennis Brain and singer Kathleen Ferrier. Mentioned in such company his name seems the least well-known at present, but his association with William Kapell bears examination, as it indicates the extent to which his talent made an impression upon a colleague considered by many to be heading for greatness at the time of his own tragic death (like Farrell who was five years his junior, Kapell was killed at the age of thirty-one). It was Kapell who, on a tour of Australia in 1945, heard Farrell play in Sydney (Kapell had actually been...