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The Religious Affiliation of Composer
Noel Farrand


Noel Farrand was a composer and a close friend of playwright Edward Albee. Noel Farrand was raised in a strict Catholic home.

From: Mel Gussow, Edward Albee: A Singular Journey: A Biography, Simon & Schuster: New York, NY (1999), pages 30-31:

Larchmont, especially in the 1930s and early 1940s when Edward [Albee] was growing up, was an exclusively suburban community, primarily Protestant, but with a sprinkling of Roman Catholics. No outsiders need apply... The Farrands -- Mrs. and Mrs. Clair L. Farrand and their children -- lived next door to the Albees in a smaller house... Of all the neighbors, the Farrands were by far the closest to Edward. The father, Clair. L. 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 four sons, was a year and a half younger than Albee; he 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. It was said that his father [i.e., Clair L. Farrand] treated his sons as if they were in boot camp. He wanted them to follow him into the family business and, disappointed with Noel, would refer to him as "the piano player." When Noel did not do well in school, his father would lock the piano (Noel, with Edward's help, learned to unlock it). About the Farrands, Albee summarizes tersely: "Redneck Irish family with a lunatic mother."

Through many ordeals, physical as well as emotional, Noel always received support from Albee, who remained loyal to him even when others jettisoned hiom from their lives because of his bizarre behavior. At his most manic, he [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. Until his death in 1996, through all his difficulties, Noel retained the clearest of memories: He could remember dates and details that would escape others. He also had a lifelong devotion to [Edward] Albee, whom he trusteed implicitly and greatly admired as an artist.

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Webpage created 21 October 2005. Last modified 21 October 2005.
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