David Farrell – Lebrecht Music & Arts photographer obituary
Lebrecht Music & Arts announces with deep regret the passing away of their photographer David Farrell on January 3rd aged 93. David has been represented by this photo library for fourteen years. He was not only a true gentleman but also he had an extraordinary career. From an early age he had shown an exceptional talent for the violin and was accepted at the Royal Academy of Music, later studying under Max Rostal. He enthralled everyone in the library with his memories of the major young violinists of this time – of sheltering from the Blitz in St John’s Wood Station together with the short-lived violinist Joseph Hasid; and of sitting in on classes with Ginette Neveu and Ida Haendel when they were studying under Carl Flesch .
David went into Bomber Command during World War II as a pilot officer. Demobbed in 1946, his growing family responsibilities and financial circumstances led to the difficult decision to give up his ambitions to become a solo violinist. He turned to music recording and then photography and print media for a living. His role model was Cartier Bresson and he soon gained a local reputation for excellence, often portraying people naturalistically in their own environments. Gloucestershire, where he lived with his family in the 1950s was the home for a wide range of intellectuals and artists and, David and his wife Manning, were an important part of this circle, counting Jacob Bronowski, Lynn Chadwick and Peter Nichols as close friends. Under a major commission from the British Council David photographed many famous artists and their work, providing the Council with some definitive portraits and photos of the work of contemporary sculptors, including Chadwick, Eduard Paolozzi, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth.
In 1955 David’s first music assignment was to photograph Yehudi Menuhin and Sir Thomas Beecham at the Bath Festival. This was the beginning of a lifetime friendship with Menuhin and of a career photographing classical musicians at work and in less formal moments. Across the next thirty years he photographed virtually every classical musician who performed in the UK, providing intimate performance photographs of musicians ranging from Louis Armstrong, Leonard Bernstein and Jacqueline du Pré to Kennedy and Ravi Shankar.
He liked to tell that he was present the night that Margot Fonteyn, deeply involved with Rudolf Nureyev and dancing at Menuhin’s Bath Festival, was told that her husband had been shot in Panama – and it was his unique photograph that captured this historical moment.
He also took early sessions of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in the 1960s . In the 1970s and 1980s he turned to photographing theatre and film.
David is survived by his wife Manning, whom he married in 1942, by two of his three sons, and by two daughters. He was a delightful man, with a ready smile and a passion for music that remained fresh to the end. He will be greatly missed by everyone who had the privilege of knowing him.
Thackeray David Farrell, photographer, born 28 August 1919, died 3 January 2013
View a selection of David’s images at Lebrecht Music & Arts here