Like a lot of folks, Sal Favia, who’s 75, has his favorite films. But unlike most, he also has favorite soundtracks and composers few recognize like Max Steiner, Erich Korngold and Bernard Herrmann. He doesn’t just like popular themes that became commercial hits. Favia loves that big, classical orchestral sound. Bill Zeeble reports on a true fan.
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“I consider Miklos Rozsa the best composer of the 20th century. I have all of his recordings. If I had to say, what is his best score? Those who love Miklos Rozsa would say Ben Hur.”
Favia moved to Fort Worth from New Jersey four years ago. He picked the Lone Star State thanks in part to movies and music by Russian-born composer Dmitri Tiomkin.
“Because the scores he wrote for Giant, a great story about Texas, The Alamo, another great story about Texas, that’s inspiring. That’s the kind of music that stirred me, that made be decide I want to go to Texas some day and live there.”
At a recent Hitchcock soundtrack concert in Dallas, Favia could not hold back his film fanaticism. As the on-stage speaker just mentioned a movie composer, Favia spontaneously clapped and cheered on his own.
In his crowded apartment stand shelves here, shelves there, stacked with CD’s and mostly Lp’s. Favia’s not sure he’ll ever make the jump to collecting soundtracks digitally, which might save space. He’s been collecting since 1960.
“When I would leave a theater as a kid, the music would stay in my head. And I knew I loved that kind of music.”
A few years ago, Favia donated thousands of his recordings to a British university, then kept on collecting what he estimates are an additional 2,000 to 3,000 recordings. On occasion, he drives to soundtrack heaven, Hollywood, for fan conventions featuring forgotten stars and films. He could fly.
“But with a plane you can’t come back with cartons of records. Then I go to Goodwills and whatever, secondhand stores, and they do have a place that sells records that’s considered a first-hand store on Sunset Boulevard.”
Recently, Favia hired a local helper, Mary Tucker, to catalogue the collection.
“I’m labeling most albums,” says Tucker, “as to where they were purchased, when and where.”
Labelling’s important to Favia, a retired New York Public School history teacher. Documentation matters and that includes everything.
Zeeble: “And why is that important to you?
Favia: “Let me get my tape recorder. We don’t just do your interview. ‘Hello I’m with Bill Zeeble again.’ You were asking me a question about the collection, please, go on.”
Zeeble: “First, why are you taping me taping you?”
Favia: “For the collection and the history of the collection. That’s why I would tape you. This recording would go into the museum as well.”
The Library of Congress holds all commercially issued recordings. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is currently raising funds for its own comprehensive museum, to include soundtracks. But Favia says there isn’t such a movie music museum in north Texas. That’s his magnificent obsession.