Super User

Another Landmark Robert Farnon CD from Vocalion - released Autumn 2002

"The Wide World of Robert Farnon"

1 THE WIDE WORLD 2 OLYMPIAN MARCH Michael Hankinson and his Orchestra 3 RHAPSODY FOR VIOLIN AND ORCHESTRA Robert Farnon and his Orchestra Steven Staryk - violin soloist 4 SCENIC WONDERS Bratislava Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Peter Breiner 5 I SAW MY LADY WEEP Robert Farnon and his Orchestra 6 SWALLOW FLIGHT 7 LAKE LOUISE 8 THE MAGIC ISLAND Paul Zaza and his Orchestra 9 CASCADES TO THE SEA – CONCERTO FOR PIANO AND ORCHESTRA Bratislava Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Farnon Peter Breiner - piano soloist 10 HOW BEAUTIFUL IS NIGHT Robert Farnon and his Orchestra 11 CRUISE WORLD Bratislava Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Farnon 12 HOLLYWOOD STARS Bratislava Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Peter Breiner 13 SPORTS ARENA 14 HOCKEY NIGHT Stateside Marching Band conducted by Charles Yates

All compositions by Robert Farnon

Vocalion CDLK4146

While still in his teens, back home in Canada, Robert Farnon had a yearning to compose classical music. He recently said: "At that time I thought of nothing else but writing serious music. And my teacher encouraged me to just start and see what would happen. I had a lot of ideas in my head, from which my Symphony No. 1 in D Flat Major was born. I wrote it during two summer holidays: one, in 1939, in northern Ontario, and the following summer out in Vancouver on Grouse Mountain. When I finished the score, I presented it to Sir Ernest MacMillan to get his opinion of it. He liked it very much, and decided to perform it with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra."

MacMillan conducted the first performance in January 1941, and it soon came to the attention of Eugene Ormandy who introduced it to American audiences with his famous Philadelphia Orchestra during a week of concerts in April 1942.

Elated by the reception to his first symphony, Farnon composed a second – in B Major (the ‘Ottawa Symphony’) – which was also conducted by MacMillan in a CBC broadcast.

This promising career was cut short when World War 2 intervened, and Captain Robert Farnon was posted to Britain with his Canadian Army Band. Serious music had to be forgotten, at least temporarily. The troops wanted popular music, and Bob and his musicians duly obliged.

Over the years admirers of Farnon’s more serious works have yearned to hear these symphonies, but the Maestro has always politely resisted all attempts to persuade him to release them for further public performances. True there are problems with missing scores (some of Farnon’s works were lost at sea en route from Canada to Britain during the war), but Farnon admits that the main reason is that he doesn’t consider that they had sufficient merit. In practice, these works have not been completely ‘lost’, because several of the themes have appeared in later compositions.

Fortunately Farnon’s army service proved to be not the end of his musical aspirations, but the launch of his multi-talented career on to an international stage. His talent for composing light orchestral cameos resulted in hundreds of delightful works for Chappells, and proved to be the basis of his successful career for decades.

Now in his mid-eighties, Robert Farnon is still composing and arranging from the serenity of his home on the beautiful Channel Island of Guernsey. Today he tends to concentrate more on delicate tone poems, rather than the bright, bouncy numbers which established his fame over half a century ago. Whatever he chooses to write, he knows that a loyal army of admirers across the world is waiting to marvel at the rich orchestrations which have become his trademark.

Many of the recordings on this CD are being released commercially for the first time. Composed in 1983, the opening number The Wide World presents the traditional rich sound of a Farnon composition extolling the virtues of nature in its finest form. Many of his works have a scenic feel, no doubt influenced by his upbringing in Canada.

Olympian March was written for a British Press Association Centenary Concert in June 1983, where it was performed by the Grimethorpe Colliery Band conducted by Ray Parr; this version, for full orchestra, was scored at the request of Farnon’s publishers. Concert marches are another of Farnon’s specialities, and his catchy themes have enlivened many reports of sporting events in television and cinema newsreels.

There are two major works in this collection, revealing the more serious side of Farnon’s composing aspirations. In 1958 the BBC commissioned him to write a new work for its annual Light Music Festival, and he chose to compose a Rhapsody for Violin and Orchestra, being a showpiece for the famous violinist Raymond Cohen, for many years the leader of the Robert Farnon Orchestra. Initially the work was heard in a shorter form, but soon afterwards Farnon expanded it to its present length, and its premiere recording (with Raymond Cohen) was made in September 1959 at Walthamstow Town Hall. The work soon attracted the attention of other violinists, notably the Canadian Steven Staryk, heard on this CD. Once again Walthamstow Town Hall was the choice of venue (its ideal acoustics were much favoured by record companies at the time) and the session took place just over a year later, on 3 December 1960. Comparisons between the Cohen and Staryk versions are fascinating: as the first performer of the work, Cohen’s interpretation was regarded as definitive, but the speed at which Staryk handles some of the solo passages (particularly the scherzando section) left many listeners gasping in admiration.

Born in Toronto in 1932, Staryk first came to prominence aged only 24 when chosen by Sir Thomas Beecham as concertmaster and soloist of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. After three successful years he resigned to take up a similar position with the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, and as Professor at the Amsterdam Conservatorium. Later he moved to the Chicago and Toronto symphonies. His career as a leading international artist was probably hampered by his aversion to publicity, and his air of detachment on stage. Injuries forced him to retire from active playing in 1986, and for the next decade he taught at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Comparing the two interpretations of his work, Robert Farnon recalls how the technical brilliance of Steven Staryk contrasted with the romantic feel of Cohen’s interpretation; he regards both performances as being equally valid.

Steven Staryk’s version of Farnon’s Rhapsody was previously only available on LPs with limited distribution, so this is the first opportunity for many music lovers to hear this virtuoso performance.

Scenic Wonders was composed and recorded in 1999. As the title aptly suggests, it gives Farnon the opportunity to indulge his passion for the spectacular beauty of his homeland.

I Saw My Lady Weep was originally called Blue Moment, but a change of title was considered desirable for this April 1966 recording.

Canada is again the inspiration for the next three works – Swallow Flight, Lake Louiseand The Magic Island, which were commissioned in 1984 for a selection of works with a summery, outdoor feel.

The second important work on this CD is Farnon’s latest major composition. This is the premiere commercial release of Cascades To The Sea – Tone Poem For Piano And Orchestra, with Peter Breiner as solo pianist. Robert Farnon’s son David is conducting the Bratislava Radio Symphony Orchestra in this recording made in March 1998. The work was commissioned in October 1997 by Mrs. Donna Grescoe Dojack in celebration of the 80th birthday of her husband, Charles E. Dojack. A short poem on the title page of the score reads: "Music is like painting in Sound. You take it into your inner heart and never lose it. It is eternally mysterious. Anon. "

In the early 1940s Robert Farnon wrote another work which he also called Cascades To The Sea. Although it was performed during the war, he felt that he never fully completed it, and he only retained the middle theme which he eventually developed into In a Calm. The two ‘Cascades’ – composed more than half a century apart - bear little resemblance to each other.

This new work is outlined in Farnon’s own programme note: "A descriptive composition in one movement for piano and orchestra, the music commences at the source of a mountain stream which wends its way, increasing in volume and speed, to the brink of a waterfall, descending to the river below and joining its path of adventure through the beauties of countryside, the excitement of rapids, the fluvial activities of a delta, eventually reaching the grandeur of the open sea where it meets a receding tide and joins the flow to the calm of a distant horizon."

Commenting upon the actual task of composing Cascades, Farnon said that the work flowed naturally, and was virtually completed by Christmas 1997. "It was as if it was something I had been waiting to compose all my life."

The piano soloist, Peter Breiner, was born in 1957 in Humenne, now part of Slovakia. His involvement in a wide variety of musical styles finds him recording jazz and pop, as well as symphonic music; he writes for films, is a musical journalist and also hosts television programmes. Since March 1992 he has been based in Toronto, and he travels the world conducting and playing the piano.

At the same April 1966 session for I Saw My Lady Weep, Farnon decided to record again How Beautiful Is Night, since his original version was in mono. This has become one of his most popular tone poems, made recognisable worldwide thanks to recordings by Sarah Vaughan, Tony Bennett and George Shearing. The inspiration was a poem of the same name by Robert Southey.

Two recent works illustrate Farnon’s penchant for full-blown glamorous numbers: Cruise World (1998) and Hollywood Stars (1999) remind us that this is the same composer who gave us Journey Into Melody and A Star Is Born.

The mood changes for the final two numbers in this collection. Marching bands are a popular feature at many sporting and outdoor events in North America, and it was almost inevitable that Robert Farnon would be persuaded to score something for this musical phenomenon that attracts so many amateur enthusiasts. Sports Arena was actually written as the signature tune for a TVS television series in 1983, but Hockey Night is purely a tribute to a game which still enjoys strong support across the Atlantic – both on grass and ice. The six main notes of the melody are based on the famous ‘charge’ theme which is always used in ice hockey games in North America, usually played live in the arena by a resident electric organist.

Although his work can be readily identified by his many admirers, Robert Farnon is far from a typical composer. He loves both jazz and the classics, and has worked with opera singers and top popular crooners. Jumping Bean is vastly different from Gateway To The West; it is hard to believe that the composer of the theme music for Colditz was also responsible for Peanut Polka. Such diversity, and mastery of so many varied styles of music, is represented in this latest collection of Farnon’s composing skills. It makes a truly valuable, and essential, addition to the existing vast repertoire of his recorded works.

David Ades

Submit to Facebook

A Great New Robert Farnon CD to celebrate his 85th Birthday in July!

"Lovers Love London"

The music of

ROBERT FARNON

played by the

ROYAL PHILHARMONIC STRINGS

Leader: Rolph Wilson

Conducted by

JACK PARNELL

  1. LOVERS LOVE LONDON (Robert Farnon)
  2. EN BATEAU (Claude Debussy)
  3. LAURA (David Raksin)
  4. LITTLE DID I KNOW (Robert Farnon)
  5. TO A YOUNG LADY (Robert Farnon)
  6. OCCASION TO REMINISCE (Robert Farnon)
  7. FOR EILEEN (Robert Farnon)
  8. THE TOUCH OF YOUR LIPS (Ray Noble)
  9. INTERMEZZO FOR HARP (Robert Farnon)
  10. LADY BARBARA (Robert Farnon)
  11. A VIOLIN MINIATURE (Robert Farnon)
  12. COEUR BRISÉ (Robert Farnon)
  13. PEACEHAVEN (Robert Farnon)
  14. FOR "C.K." (Robert Farnon)
  15. HOW BEAUTIFUL IS NIGHT (Robert Farnon)

Recorded on 6 November 2001 at Angel Studios, Islington, London

Avid/Horatio Nelson AVHN101 - Price £12.50
Available from
RECORDS DIRECT, PO Box 1123, LONDON, SW1P 1HB
Cheques should be made payable to ‘Records Direct’
[This CD is also available through the RFS Record Service]

André Previn declared, many years ago, that Robert Farnon is the greatest living writer for strings. When he hears this new album, he will be reassured that his opinion was not misplaced.

At the age of 84, Farnon could have been forgiven for merely ‘polishing up’ a few old friends, which would certainly have been gratefully received by his many admirers around the world. But it is clear that his urge to compose is still as strong as ever, and five of these delicate miniatures are brand new works, while others are given fresh new settings which frequently amaze through their sheer beauty.

Today Bob prefers to leave it to other conductors to interpret his works, and he could have made no better choice than his old friend Jack Parnell.

"I was very honoured when Bob asked me to conduct his music for this CD" was Jack’s opening remark, when asked to reflect on the sessions.

"I have known, worked with, and deeply admired Bob for over half a century, and to conduct such beautiful music I considered one of the highlights of my career.

"The Orchestra were superb, and the exquisite playing of our leader, Rolph Wilson, and flautist Jane Pickles an absolute joy.

"I’m sure everyone who enjoys listening to romantic music will enjoy listening to this CD."

Robert Farnon was born in Toronto, Canada, on 24 July 1917. Still in his teens, he was well-known to radio listeners playing trumpet and cracking jokes with "The Happy Gang", which became a Canadian institution. He played in Percy Faith’s CBC orchestra, and eventually took over the baton when Faith was lured south to the richer pastures of the USA. During this period Farnon composed two symphonies, and he nursed aspirations to become a ‘serious’ composer. His first symphony was performed in the USA by Eugene Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra, and both were played by the Toronto and Montreal Symphony Orchestras.

Unfortunately World War 2 intervened, and in September 1944 he arrived in England as Captain Robert Farnon, conductor of the Canadian Band of the Allied Expeditionary Forces. Working alongside Glenn Miller and George Melachrino (who fronted the American and British bands), he undertook a punishing schedule of numerous broadcasts and concerts for the troops. Although the AEF Programme of the BBC was aimed at the Allied Forces, its broadcasts were popular with the civilian population as well, and by the end of the war Farnon was highly respected by fellow musicians and his many fans.

In Britain Robert Farnon had discovered that Concert Music was very popular, thanks to the influence of composers and conductors such as Eric Coates and Haydn Wood. Films also needed a steady supply of background music. Farnon decided that there were opportunities for him to develop his composing skills that were absent back home, so he chose to remain in England when he was demobbed from the Canadian Army.

He was soon in demand from radio, recording companies and the film industry. But perhaps the most significant turning point in his career came when Teddy Holmes, boss of the Chappell Recorded Music Library, put Farnon under contract to compose a steady stream of light music cameos covering many varied moods. It retrospect it seems that this event was akin to a dam being burst; dozens of wonderful melodies that had probably been kicking around in Farnon’s subconscious for years, suddenly found an outlet. Chappells was pleased to publish anything that Farnon created, allowing us all to marvel at miniature masterpieces such as Jumping Bean, Portrait of a Flirt, A Star is Born, Journey Into Melody, Peanut Polka and Westminster Waltz.

The arrival of the long playing record brought Robert Farnon’s brilliant arrangements and compositions to the notice of music lovers worldwide, and he was soon in demand to work with international stars such as Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, George Shearing, Lena Horne, Jose Carreras, Eileen Farrell, George Benson, Tony Bennett and Eddie Fisher.

The need to support a large family meant that Farnon had to provide the kind of music that would pay the bills. However, he has never forgotten his early ambitions to compose more serious works, and occasionally this has been possible. One of his first film scores was "Captain Horatio Hornblower, R.N." which contains some tender love themes among the stirring, swashbuckling excitement demanded by the script. In 1958 the BBC commissioned Rhapsody for Violin and Orchestra, a beautiful romantic work, which has been unjustly neglected by concert promoters. The harmonica virtuoso Tommy Reilly persuaded Farnon to write specially for him, which resulted in Prelude and Dance for Harmonica and Orchestra, a work which forced harmonica manufacturers to redesign their instruments.

Saxophone Triparti is a three movement work for soprano, tenor and alto saxophones, which the Musicians’ Union commissioned in 1971 for Bob Burns. Other important scores include A La Claire Fontaine, Lake of the Woods, The Frontiersmen and A Promise of Spring.

This latest collection opens with a new composition Lovers Love London. According to Robert Farnon, his inspiration was an affection for lighting-up time on the streets, and the parks, of Westminster, and along the river. Some of this magic can be seen in the cover photograph of this CD, reproduced on the front page of this magazine.

En Bateau is a delightful work by Claude Debussy, which Farnon once orchestrated for the 1948 film "Spring In Park Lane", a very successful British movie starring Anna Neagle and Michael Wilding. It was Farnon’s first major film score, and could have resulted in a Hollywood career, had he not decided to remain on this side of the Atlantic. On this CD the work takes on a simplified setting of the two main themes, with a lovely music conversation between Jane (flute) and Rolph (violin).

Laura has always been one of Farnon’s favourite film themes. He first orchestrated it back in the 1940s, and hoped that one day he would hear it performed by a large orchestra in a major concert hall. He has had his wish fulfilled on more than one occasion (including a memorable concert at London’s Royal Festival Hall in 1974), and he could not resist allowing the Strings of the Royal Philharmonic to weave their special magic with David Raksin’s timeless melody.

Little Did I Know is the second brand-new Farnon score, and he plans to write a lyric to this pensive tune:

"Little did I know about her,
Not even her name.
She was shy
So was I … "

To a Young Lady is a proud father’s tribute to his daughter Judith.

Occasion to Reminisce is one of the many works that Robert Farnon originally composed for the Chappell Recorded Music Library – a vast storehouse of music that can be used by film, radio and television companies around the world. Although first published over forty years ago, this is the first time that it has been available on a commercial recording.

The ‘Eileen’ in the title of For Eileen is a very special lady who was held in high esteem in North America – the opera singer Eileen Farrell, whose recent death is reported elsewhere in this issue. During the 1990s Robert Farnon arranged and conducted four albums with her, and as a surprise item on the last of these he included this purely instrumental tribute. It is sometimes known under a different title, Our Romance.

The Touch of Your Lips is one of the enduring melodies written back in the 1930s by the British bandleader Ray Noble. It has become a popular ‘standard’ in the true sense of the word, and this superb string arrangement, like the others, is a joy to listen to.

During his long career Robert Farnon has worked with many of the finest musicians on the London scene. One of the most charming was the harpist Marie Goossens, who was frequently in the orchestra for its radio and television programmes, and numerous recording sessions. Intermezzo for Harp was composed by Bob especially for Marie, and it has become a firm favourite with the many harpists who have performed it subsequently.

Lady Barbara is the main love theme which Robert Farnon composed for the "Hornblower" film in 1951. Although it was an integral part of the score, it stands alone as a tender portrayal of the searing passions – both happy and sad – which mark all great love affairs. Lyrics have been added, and the title of the song version is On the Lips of Lovers.

A Violin Miniature comes from a suite "Showcase for Soloists" highlighting many instruments of the orchestra. It bears a passing resemblance to Farnon’s longer work Rhapsody for Violin and Orchestra.

Coeur Brisé (literal translation ‘Heartbreaks’) is another new composition, receiving its premiere recording on this CD.

Peacehaven - also a new work – is a tone poem in the finest Farnon tradition, dedicated to the children’s home founded by Gracie Fields on the south coast of England.

In August 1998 Robert Farnon arranged and conducted an album for the great Scottish jazz singer Carol Kidd. For "C.K." (his fifth new composition on this CD) is Bob’s present to her, reminding them both of a joyous occasion which resulted in some superlative performances of great songs of the last century.

How Beautiful is Night reveals Robert Farnon at his most lyrical. Written in the 1940s, it has become a standard thanks to vocal recordings by Tony Bennett and Sarah Vaughan, and remains one of his best-known works. The title comes from a poem by Robert Southey, which provided the young Robert Farnon with the necessary inspiration.

Jack Parnell is one of the best-known and most popular British jazzmen. Born 6 August 1923, he is fondly remembered as drummer with the famous Ted Heath band, before his long association with Associated TeleVision. For years he conducted the theatre orchestra for the legendary ‘Sunday Night at the London Palladium’, and provided the orchestra for many of ATV’s top musical shows, culminating in ‘The Muppet Show’. Later in his career he returned to his jazz roots, leading the London Big Band. Widely admired in the music profession, he has worked with Robert Farnon on numerous recordings, and was a natural choice to conduct this album.

David Ades

Submit to Facebook

The 6th Robert Farnon CD from Vocalion finally restores two classic LPs to the catalogue

ROBERT FARNON AND HIS ORCHESTRA

Presenting Robert Farnon

1 Yes! We Have No Bananas (Silver, Cohn), 2 Always (Irving Berlin), 3 Blue Skies (Irving Berlin), 4 In The Blue Of The Evening (Alec Wilder), 5 When I Grow Too Old To Dream (Romberg, Hammerstein II), 6 Don’t Blame Me (McHugh, Fields), 7 To A Wild Rose (Edward MacDowell), 8 Dawn To Dusk (Alec Wilder), 9 Laura (Raksin, Mercer).

Flirtation Walk

10 Would You Like To Take A Walk? (Warren, Dixon, Rose), 11 Reflections In The Water (Loeb, Webster), 12 It’s Always You (Heusen, Burke), 13 Two Little Girls In Blue (Graham), 14 Sweet And Lovely (Arnheim, Tobias, Lemare), 15 So Do I (Burke, Johnston), 16 Flirtation Walk (Dixon, Wrubel), 17 By A Waterfall (Kahal, Fain), 18 Can I Forget You (Hammerstein, Kern), 19 It’s Easy To Remember (Rodgers, Hart), 20 Flirtation Waltz (Heywood, Sarony), 21 Down By The River (Rodgers, Hart), 22 My Foolish Heart (Young, Washington), 23 I Love A Lassie (Lauder, Grafton).

"Presenting Robert Farnon" was originally on Decca LK4067, released in September 1953; "Flirtation Walk", Decca LK4083, was released in October 1954.

Now available on CD: Vocalion CDLK4118

The cover of this new CD is featured on the front page of the December 2001 issue of Journal Into Melody.

"Presenting Robert Farnon" was recorded in January and February 1950, but Decca did not release it as a complete album until September 1953. Although intentionally conceived as an LP (Robert Farnon confirmed this in a recent interview), it is interesting to recall that the sessions actually took place before Decca released the first long-playing records in Britain in June 1950. However these modern recording miracles had been launched in the USA some months earlier, so Decca had some clues as to their likely attraction to the general public.

But did they get cold feet? Why was there such a long delay? Perhaps wishing to recoup some of their costs, all of the tracks (except for the two longer Alec Wilder pieces) were put out on 78s in Britain and/or the USA, so they were familiar to Farnon’s admirers long before the vinyl eventually appeared. Were sales disappointing? 12" LPs were expensive in the 1950s, and a year later (in November 1954) seven of the tracks suddenly appeared on a 10" LP with the same title. This didn’t happen again to a Farnon album, although several of his LPs were issued in 4-track sections when 45 rpm Extended-Play records appeared on the scene.

The album was produced by Tutti (Toots) Camarata, the American musical director who was one of the founders of London Records in the USA. He first attracted attention in Britain when he was engaged for the expensive Technicolor musical "London Town" starring Sid Field and the Ted Heath Orchestra. The film flopped, but Camarata continued to work for a while in Britain, making LPs under his own name and also producing others, such as this Farnon album.

The two Alec Wilder works were Camarata’s choice, with the rest of the album featuring what might be termed Farnon’s standard repertoire at the time - the kind of top-quality popular music heard regularly in his BBC radio and, later, television programmes.

On 3 January 1950 the first sessions took place at London’s Kingsway Hall (both LPs on this CD were recorded in this famous venue), featuring the Robert Farnon Strings: Always, When I Grow Too Old To Dream, To A Wild Rose and Laura. Without exception they illustrate Farnon’s mastery of string writing. Farnon once confided that one of his early ambitions was to hear a large string orchestra play his arrangement of Laura.

The next sessions for the album took place on 27 January 1950, with the full orchestra assembled for the two Alec Wilder compositions. Farnon remembers that he used Wilder’s original scores, making only minor alterations to suit the special requirements of his orchestra. In The Blue Of The Evening featured Frank Reidy on clarinet. In later years Reidy performed on many Farnon sessions, and eventually became the ‘fixer’, hiring the other musicians for the orchestra.

In Dawn To Dusk (known in the USA as Rhapsody For Piano And Orchestra) Farnon chose fellow Canadian Denny Vaughan for the solo piano part. Vaughan was a talented musician who also possessed a fine singing voice. Like Farnon, he was brought from his homeland to Britain during the war, and appeared in numerous broadcasts. After the war he worked with Geraldo, before eventually returning to progress his career in radio and television in North America. (Readers are reminded that Murray Ginsberg’s fine tribute to Denny Vaughan appeared in our June 2001 issue).

Alec Wilder has been described as an urbane, well-read, intelligent and rather poetic individual. His work was highly regarded by his peers, and he wrote a book about popular music which is almost regarded as a ‘bible’ by many in the music business, while others strongly disagree with some of his findings. He came into contact with the young Frank Sinatra, who did him the honour of conducting several of his works in December 1945, which were released by Columbia Records in the USA. Wilder’s best-known tunes include I’ll Be Around and Who Can I Turn To.

The full orchestra returned to Kingsway Hall on 3 February 1950 for three numbers showcasing Farnon’s affinity with orchestral jazz: Yes! We Have No Bananas, Blue Skies and Don’t Blame Me. Each scintillating score includes a feature for Dave Goldberg, the legendary guitar player. He was a member of the Ted Heath Band in the early 1950s, and went with them on an American tour. His undoubted talent was recognised, and he decided to stay there for a while. For some reason he chose to use the surname ‘Gilbert’ (rather than Goldberg) and the US release of Don’t Blame Me credits ‘Dave Gilbert’ as the guitar soloist with the Robert Farnon Orchestra. Sadly this genius became disenchanted with the way in which the popular music business was going, and he died at an early age from a drugs overdose.

"Flirtation Walk" was recorded in April 1954 and released in Britain the following October. The titles nearly all come from American films and shows of the 1930s and 1940s, the ‘baby’ of the set being My Foolish Heart, first heard in 1950 in the Susan Hayward film of the same name. One other number stands out for its surprise inclusion on the LP: I Love A Lassie, co-composed by the Scottish comedian Sir Harry Lauder, who made it world-famous. It provides the perfect lesson for aspiring arrangers, showing the way in which Farnon can give a bright new treatment to a well-known piece which almost defies being scored for a ‘serious’ orchestra (the other obvious example on this CD is Yes! We Have No Bananas).

The title tune Flirtation Walk contains one of the maestro’s musical jokes, which he has only recently publicly admitted. It was actually noticed around ten years ago by American musician Jeff Sultanof while working on a reconstruction of the score for a possible performance. It is Farnon’s one and only brush with atonal music, and occurs at around 1 min 10 secs and lasts for just 15 seconds. It is a short bridge at the end of the first chorus, and sounds like a lapse into one of the extreme jazz styles that were emerging at that time. Farnon greatly admired (and had once met) Bela Bartók; when asked why this was his only example of atonal music he explained: "It is really a kind of mathematical music - not quite my scene. I prefer to leave such matters in the hands of the experts like Bartók."

As a young arranger, Farnon’s wicked sense of humour often delighted fellow musicians. There is a story of a new score he did for Geraldo, which contained a terrible chord - obviously unmusical and completely wrong. When the musicians protested that they couldn’t play it, Geraldo sternly told them: "If Bob Farnon’s written it, it must be right, and you must play it!" Fortunately he was let in on the joke before the work was actually broadcast.

The two albums featured on this CD are prime examples of Robert Farnon’s undoubted talent in being able to transform often simple tunes into minor light orchestral masterpieces. Each and every one of these melodies has been carefully crafted to provide a wealth of beautiful sounds, bringing fresh rewards for the attentive listener at each successive hearing.

The American releases of these albums were packaged in different LP covers, and these are reproduced in full colour on the back page of the CD booklet:

"Presenting Robert Farnon" London LL812; "Flirtation Walk" London LL1053.

Robert Farnon completed the first movement of "The Mountbatten Suite" earlier this year, and as the December issue of Journal Into Melody closed for press the first performance was scheduled to take place on 18 October in Portsmouth. RFS members who attended our London meetings in the early 1990’s may well have had the pleasure of speaking to Sir Vivian Dunn. This distinguished ‘Man of Military Music’ was also a great lover of light music, and his LPs conducting the Orchestra of the Light Music Society are still regarded as being the definitive performances of many of the works included on those fondly recalled EMI albums from 30 years ago.

Sir Vivian died on 3 April 1995 aged 86. At the time he had been working on a "Mountbatten Suite", and had already completed the second and third movements, which he called Broadlands and Man of Action. For some reason he decided that he would compose the first movement last - it was to be called Man of Destiny. Sadly he never finished his work.

Early in 2000, Sir Vivian’s son Paddy (also a welcome visitor to our London meetings) decided to try and see if his father’s suite could be completed, and he asked Robert Farnon if he would be willing to compose the first movement.

Bob and Sir Vivian had known each other during World War II (both had conducted orchestras for the entertainment of the armed forces), and had remained friends ever since. Indeed the strength of Sir Vivian’s admiration for his work was such that Robert Farnon’s music became firmly established in the repertoire of the Royal Yacht orchestra during most state and private occasions during the post war years of Vivian Dunn’s appointment as Director of Music until 1954 and, it is understood, that tradition continued uninterrupted until HMY Britannia was de-commissioned some 45 years later. One of the light music works conducted by Sir Vivian for EMI was Robert Farnon’s A La Claire Fontaine.

In the biography of Sir Vivian Dunn Fiddler on the March, there are several references to Bob and their long friendship. On page 238 Bob completes a warm tribute by saying: "It was a special privilege to have known such a great man who became, not only a personal friend, but a great hero." The book also contains a summary of the relevance and importance of the "Mountbatten Suite".

Paddy had first sought the approval of Countess Mountbatten, who was delighted at the thought of Bob being approached. Her husband, Lord Brabourne, apparently knew Robert Farnon’s wife Patricia very well, from their days in films together.

Bob agreed to the commission in July 2000, and his completed score was delivered to Paddy Dunn in May - the delay mainly due to the move from ‘La Falaise’. (Bob jokingly told Paddy that he could have finished the work sooner, but he had mislaid his copy of his treasured Lloyd Webber chord chart during the house move!)

The Principal Director of Music, Royal Marines, Lt. Col. Richard Waterer, has been arranging to have the complete score and parts copied and printed, and as we went to press we learned that Man of Destiny’s first public performance would occur in Portsmouth on 18 October at St. Mary’s Church, Fratton, played by the orchestra of the Royal Band - the new title, by Royal Command, of what was the Royal Yacht Band. The reason for this somewhat strange location is that is where the Royal Marines School of Music currently holds its monthly winter concerts, a tradition introduced by Sir Vivian when the School was located at Deal. It is also hoped that the work will be recorded for commercial release, possibly by a symphony orchestra.

Both Robert Farnon and Paddy Dunn are keen that RFS members should have the opportunity to see Bob’s original pencil sketches for the first movement, Man of Destiny, and these are reproduced in the December 2001 issue of Journal Into Melody.

Robert Farnon will be featured on a new CD in the Naxos Historical ‘British Light Music’ series. This will include both Decca and Chappell recordings, and the titles selected are: Jumping Bean, A Star Is Born, Portrait of a Flirt, Journey Into Melody, Willie the Whistler, Melody Fair, Canadian Caravan, Ottawa Heights, Mountain Grandeur, Gateway to the West, Huckle-Buckle, How Beautiful is Night, State Occasion, Taj Mahal, High Street, Sophistication Waltz, Manhattan Playboy, String Time, In a Calm, Peanut Polka. Readers will recognise that all of these tracks are available on other CDs, but Naxos is widely distributed around the world so it is good that Bob’s music will now receive strong exposure. The CD is expected in January 2002, and the catalogue number will be Naxos 8110849.

Richard Jenkinson was formerly principal cellist with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He has recently recorded a new CD of British works for the cello, and one of the tracks is Song of Scandia by Robert Farnon. In our March issue of Journal Into Melody we hope to have further information regarding the release of this CD. We understand that Richard has expressed the wish to continue the association with Robert Farnon, and Bob may compose a piece specially for him. In fact he has recently re-scored Pictures In The Fire for cello and piano, and Bob feels that it works wonderfully for this combination of instruments.

As we have reported previously, in recent months Robert Farnon has been working on a collection of new arrangements and compositions, concentrating on strings, harp and flute. As we go to press (early in October), Bob is just putting the finishing touches to the last of them, and the CD was scheduled to be recorded on 8 November at the Angel Studios, Islington, with the Royal Philharmonic Strings conducted by Jack Parnell.The titles are: Romancing the Phoenix, Little Did I Know, Coeur Brisé, For Eileen, Lady Barbara, She is Fair to be Uncompared, *En Bateau, *Laura, How Beautiful is Night, Peacehaven, For "C.K.", A Violin Miniature, Intermezzo for Harp, Occasion to Reminisce, *The Touch of your Lips and To a Young Lady. All are Robert Farnon compositions, except titles marked*.

Submit to Facebook

Three Farnon Tributes to Great Songwriters reappear at last on CD

ROBERT FARNON AND HIS ORCHESTRA Victor Schertzinger, Hoagy Carmichael and Vincent Youmans Suites

Victor Schertzinger
1 The Fleet’s In*, 2 Dream Lover*, 3 Sand In My Shoes. 4 Marcheta, 5 One Night Of Love, 6 Kiss The Boys Goodbye*, 7 Love Passes By BONUS TRACK, 8 Tangerine BONUS TRACK

Hoagy Carmichael
9 My Resistance Is Low*, 10 Stardust, 11 Little Old Lady, 12 Georgia On My Mind, 13 One Morning In May, 14 Lazybones*

Vincent Youmans
15 Hallelujah**, 16 Tea For Two, 17 Sometimes I’m Happy, 18 Without A Song, 19 Great Day**, 20 Orchids In The Moonlight, 21 More Than You Know, 22 Time On My Hands, 23 The Carioca BONUS TRACK

* with The Johnston Singers ** with The George Mitchell Choir

VOCALION CDLK4137 Recording History:

"Victor Schertzinger Suite" Decca LK4055 released March 1953
"Hoagy Carmichael Suite" Decca LK4055 released March 1953
"Music of Vincent Youmans" Decca LF1052 released September 1951
Love Passes By BONUS TRACK not on original LP - London L 1240 (78)
Tangerine BONUS TRACK not on original LP - London L1242 (78)
The Carioca BONUS TRACK not on original LP - Decca F9185 (78)

Robert Farnon is generally regarded as the greatest living composer of Light Orchestral music in the world. He is also revered as an arranger of quality popular songs, having influenced most of the top writers on both sides of the Atlantic during the second half of the 20th century. In his long recording career he has been responsible for brilliant orchestrations of melodies crafted by the finest songwriters of the last century, and the latest release in Vocalion’s landmark series of Decca reissues concentrates on three fascinating men.
Victor Schertzinger was born on 8 April 1880 in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania, USA; he died aged 61 in Hollywood, California, on 26 October 1941. As a child he was a gifted violinist, and during his formative years he toured as a concert soloist and studied music in Europe. In 1913 his song "Marcheta" was published, and three years later he moved to Hollywood where an early commission involved composing a special score for Thomas Ince’s "Civilization". Very soon he also started directing films, and managed to combine this new career successfully with his songwriting. The arrival of talkies resulted in Schertzinger contributing complete scores and individual songs to many top musicals, including the title song for "One Night Of Love" (1934); "Dream Lover" from the Jeanette MacDonald hit "The Love Parade" (1929); and "Sand In My Shoes" and the title song from "Kiss The Boys Goodbye" (1941). Two of his biggest hits reached cinema screens shortly after his death, with lyrics by Johnny Mercer - "Tangerine" and the title song from "The Fleet’s In". As a film director his credits included numerous dramatic features, but he is probably remembered best for his musicals, especially the first of the ‘Road’ movies starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour in "The Road To Singapore".
Hoagy Carmichael had a successful career as a composer, pianist, singer and actor. He was born Hoagland Howard Carmichael on 22 November 1899 at Bloomington, Indiana, USA, and died aged 82 on 27 December 1981 at Palm Springs, California. Largely self-taught, he grew up in a poor rural community, but his future career in the music business seemed pre-destined when he became friendly with the legendary Bix Beiderbecke, for whom he co-composed "Riverboat Shuffle". Based in New York in 1929 (the year when "Stardust" was published, although it had been composed two years earlier), Carmichael formed close relationships with many jazz musicians later to become famous, especially Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller. For his songs Carmichael occasionally wrote both words and music, but he often collaborated with the best lyric writers, notably Johnny Mercer ("Lazybones"), Mitchell Parish ("Stardust" & "One Morning In May"), and Frank Loesser ("Little Old Lady"). "My Resistance Is Low" came from a 1951 film "The Las Vegas Story". Althought "Stardust" is reckoned to be the most recorded popular tune of all time, "Georgia On My Mind" (lyrics by Stuart Gorrell) has proved to be one of Carmichael’s most enduring successes, with each new generation of performers seeming to ‘rediscover’ this great standard.
Vincent Youmans was a leading composer and producer for stage productions during the 1920s and 1930s, but his career was cut short by a long battle against tuberculosis. Vincent Miller Youmans was born on 27 September 1898 at New York USA; he died aged 47 at Denver, Colorado on 45 April 1946. He served with the US Navy during the first World War, and co-produced musicals for the entertainment of his colleagues. Later he worked as a song plugger, and was a rehearsal pianist for the influential composer Victor Herbert. Youmans’ first Broadway score was "Two Little Girls In Blue" (1921) which opened a long and successful association with the theatre. From this period came "Tea For Two" (reputedly written almost as a joke for "No No Nanette" - 1927); "Hallelujah!" and "Sometimes I’m Happy" (from "Hit The Deck" - 1927, later filmed by MGM in 1955); "Without A Song", "More Than You Know" and the title song (from "Great Day" - 1929); and "Time On My Hands" (from the 1930 musical "Smiles"). Like many of his contemporaries, he was attracted to Hollywood, but his only major original score was for "Flying Down To Rio" (1933), the movie which launched the legendary screen partnership of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Two of the big hits from this film were "The Carioca" and "Orchids In The Moonlight". By comparison with many of his contemporaries, his song catalogue is small, and he rarely used the same collaborator. But the quality of his music survives, and he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
These three talented songwriters all received the special Robert Farnon treatment, when the maestro honoured their contributions to the popular music scene of fifty years ago. Through his masterly arrangements, Farnon has preserved each of these melodies for later generations to enjoy, without knowing the stars or shows with whom they were originally associated. To be able to survive in isolation, as they undoubtedly do, is ample testament to their quality.
The front cover of this CD booklet reproduces the British and American LP sleeves for the Hoagy Carmichael / Victor Schertzinger 12" album. Vincent Youmans occupied a 10" LP, and it was released at a time when LP covers in Britain were not individually designed. Therefore we see the standard Decca design for their ‘popular’ releases, merely carrying basic details of the music and orchestra in the overprinting. The back of the sleeve simply told purchasers that the record had to be played with a special pick-up, and should be cleaned with a barely damp cloth. Record companies quickly discovered the sales potential of attractive designs on their LP covers, so examples of early releases such as this are definitely in the ‘historical’ category.
The recordings on the Hoagy Carmichael and Victor Schertzinger Suites (including the two ‘bonus’ tracks not included in the original albums, but released as singles only in the USA) were recorded at the Kingsway Hall, London during May and June 1952. The Victor Youmans tracks were recorded in February 1951, with the exception of the ‘bonus’ track "The Carioca", which was recorded on 18 May 1949.

David Ades  

 

Dedicated to taking Light Music seriously

JOHN WILSON

"Frankly, he gives a damn" was the headline chosen by Clive Davis for his interview with John Wilson, printed in the London Times on 9 January. He was quoting Clark Gable’s famous line from "Gone With The Wind", one of the scores being revitalised for the Royal Festival Hall concert of Hollywood Film Music on 19 January.

Valuable publicity such as this is essential if concert halls are to be filled, but the day is fast approaching when it will be John Wilson’s name alone that is all that will be required. Because this young man (he is still only 29) has already built up an enviable reputation for his records and concert appearances.

Davis reminded Times readers that John has emerged as a champion of Light Music since graduating from the Royal College of Music, where he was awarded the much-coveted Tagore Gold Medal. Apart from his recordings (which include the acclaimed ASV series on Eric Coates), he orchestrated Sir Richard Rodney Bennett’s score for the BBC adaptation of "Gormenghast", which led to the Orchestral Jazz CD with Bennett for Vocalion in 2000 (CDSA6800). A second, highly-praised CD (also for Vocalion) involved re-recording many of Angela Morley’s classic scores ("Soft Lights and Sweet Music" – CDSA 6803).

We are proud that John is a member of the Robert Farnon Society. During the past five years we have enjoyed meeting him at our London recitals and at various concerts, and his infectious enthusiasm for his music has impressed us greatly. Clive Davis picked up on it, recognising that John’s "great passion is his orchestra, which also performs swing-flavoured arrangements from the pen of Nelson Riddle, Robert Farnon, Billy May and other arrangers who tend to be lumped together as ‘easy listening’ …. which is, of course, back in vogue."

According to Davis, John’s greatest concern is that he finds himself working in a cultural no-man’s-land. "We haven’t really got a Pops culture in this country, the way they do in America" he says. "Light music here is always treated as a poor relation. It’s usually played very badly, when what it needs is a virtuoso orchestra … it needs to be performed by musicians who can make the notes spring off the page. If you do it well, you realise these pieces really can stand the test of time. You have to pin people back in their seats, make them judge with their ears rather than their preconceptions."

The great day of the concert finally arrived: Saturday 19 January 2002. At the Royal Festival Hall many RFS members were spotted among the enthusiastic near-capacity audience, and it was a treat for sore eyes to see such a large symphony-size orchestra waiting to perform. Seated behind the orchestra were the 100 members of the Crouch End Festival Chorus.

John Wilson entered to sustained applause and cheers, and then opened the concert with the magnificent 20th Century Fox Fanfare (with CinemaScope extension – as they used to say!) leading into Alfred Newman’s Street Scene as it was heard at the opening of the film "How to Marry a Millionaire". From 1939 to 1960 Newman (1901-1970) was head of the music department at 20th Century Fox, and it is no exaggeration to say that it was his influence which contributed greatly to the high standards of the music in many of the major Hollywood films of the middle years of the last century.

Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957) was one of several European composers who made their home in Hollywood during the 1930s, and his score for The Sea Hawk proved his mastery in scoring for adventure movies.

The classic David Raksin (b. 1912) Laura made a nice contrast, leading into what many in the audience regarded as the concert’s high spot – the Conrad Salinger arrangements for MGM musicals.

The baritone Richard Morrison made an all-too-brief appearance singing the Howard Keel role from "Kismet" – Night of my Nights, ably assisted by the choir. The classic Central Park scene from "Band Wagon" brought us the beautiful Arthur Schwartz melody Dancing in the Dark; even without seeing Fred Astaire, this arrangement still hits the spot.

The sparkling main title and fountain scene from "Gigi" led into two Gene Kelly numbers, most ably sung by Gary Williams – Singin’ in the Rain and Heather on the Hill. Then to close part one, a real ‘tour de force’ from orchestra, choir and Gary Williams performing the Fred Astaire classic from "Ziegfeld Follies" – Harry Warren’s This Heart of Mine. In his introduction John Wilson hinted that it may have been Conrad Salinger at his most self-indulgent, but what a wonderful number all the same. Everyone involved was simply magnificent!

During the interval you could sense that all of us were on a ‘high’ as you walked around this great concert hall.

Just as the first part opened with probably the most famous film fanfare of them all, so the second began with one that could have been almost equally well-known, if Warner Bros. had decided to use it for more of their movies. Composed by Max Steiner (1888-1971) it was the natural introduction for his memorable score for that Bette Davis weepie "Now Voyager".

Then came the main work of the evening, a new symphonic suite, arranged and reconstructed by John Wilson, based on the various themes by Max Steiner for "Gone With The Wind". It opened to the David O. Selznik fanfare, then launched into the familiar Tara theme. But very soon the audience realised that Steiner had written a considerable amount of music for this epic, some of it based on the melodies associated with the days of slavery in the deep south. John Wilson has done a major service to film historians by restoring this music as an important work in its own right.

To conclude this wonderful evening, the orchestra excelled themselves in The Ride of the Cossacks from "Taras Bulba" by Franz Waxman (1906-1967). When it finished the applause and cheering was deafening; I didn’t time it, but John Wilson returned to the podium three times to acknowledge the appreciation of us all. The audience would have loved more, but possibly anything else would have been an anti-climax after the Waxman fireworks. In any case, I have it on good authority that John had been working until the small hours the previous night finishing the scores for the concert. He must have been thinking of his bed!

But on such occasions the body’s adrenalin kicks in, and shortly afterwards a queue of well over 100 people had formed near the Farringdon Records area where John was signing copies of his latest CD, and anything else that his fans put in front of him! He deserved all the congratulations that were heaped on him, and can be justifiably proud of everything that he achieved on that memorable January evening in London.

What are the lasting impressions? First and foremost the delight at seeing so many young musicians in the orchestra, and the fact that they seemed to be enjoying themselves so much. Then the singers, especially Gary Williams who could not be faulted in his recreations – he must have worked very hard on them. And one cannot forget the wonderful sound of the chorus, creating that gorgeous curtain of sound enveloping orchestra and singers as they used to do, until the sheer cost presumably meant that the studios eventually decided to dispense with them in such numbers.

The audience also deserve a mention, not only since they were so enthusiastic, but because it has to be said that it cheered the hearts of those of us who can remember this music from the first time round, to see so many younger people enjoying it as well. The future of quality popular music may not be as gloomy as some doom-laden critics would have us believe.

As for John Wilson himself, it was a treat to observe his rapport with his orchestra. He coaxed them to give of their best, and rewarded them with a beaming smile when they inevitably did. John’s passion for the music permeated the entire proceedings, and he had players and audience in the palm of his hand. It takes a very special person to be able to achieve that.

Now that this triumph is behind him, what are John Wilson’s plans for the future? Let’s return to his Times interview. Clive Davis told us that he plans to continue his excavation work on the great Hollywood musicals. He has High Society in his sights, not to mention Singin’ In The Rain and Gigi. "When I left college, I made the decision that I wanted to be a re-creative rather than a creative artist," he explains. "I’m not one of those film music nerds who listen only to soundtracks. I listen to ‘proper’ music too. These great scores deserve to be reconstituted as concert music in their own right."

David Ades

Submit to Facebook

The 6th Robert Farnon CD from Vocalion finally restores two classic LPs to the catalogue

ROBERT FARNON AND HIS ORCHESTRA

Presenting Robert Farnon

1 Yes! We Have No Bananas (Silver, Cohn), 2 Always (Irving Berlin), 3 Blue Skies (Irving Berlin), 4 In The Blue Of The Evening (Alec Wilder), 5 When I Grow Too Old To Dream (Romberg, Hammerstein II), 6 Don’t Blame Me (McHugh, Fields), 7 To A Wild Rose (Edward MacDowell), 8 Dawn To Dusk (Alec Wilder), 9 Laura (Raksin, Mercer).

Flirtation Walk

10 Would You Like To Take A Walk? (Warren, Dixon, Rose), 11 Reflections In The Water (Loeb, Webster), 12 It’s Always You (Heusen, Burke), 13 Two Little Girls In Blue (Graham), 14 Sweet And Lovely (Arnheim, Tobias, Lemare), 15 So Do I (Burke, Johnston), 16 Flirtation Walk (Dixon, Wrubel), 17 By A Waterfall (Kahal, Fain), 18 Can I Forget You (Hammerstein, Kern), 19 It’s Easy To Remember (Rodgers, Hart), 20 Flirtation Waltz (Heywood, Sarony), 21 Down By The River (Rodgers, Hart), 22 My Foolish Heart (Young, Washington), 23 I Love A Lassie (Lauder, Grafton).

"Presenting Robert Farnon" was originally on Decca LK4067, released in September 1953; "Flirtation Walk", Decca LK4083, was released in October 1954.

Now available on CD: Vocalion CDLK4118

The cover of this new CD is featured on the front page of the December 2001 issue of Journal Into Melody.

"Presenting Robert Farnon" was recorded in January and February 1950, but Decca did not release it as a complete album until September 1953. Although intentionally conceived as an LP (Robert Farnon confirmed this in a recent interview), it is interesting to recall that the sessions actually took place before Decca released the first long-playing records in Britain in June 1950. However these modern recording miracles had been launched in the USA some months earlier, so Decca had some clues as to their likely attraction to the general public.

But did they get cold feet? Why was there such a long delay? Perhaps wishing to recoup some of their costs, all of the tracks (except for the two longer Alec Wilder pieces) were put out on 78s in Britain and/or the USA, so they were familiar to Farnon’s admirers long before the vinyl eventually appeared. Were sales disappointing? 12" LPs were expensive in the 1950s, and a year later (in November 1954) seven of the tracks suddenly appeared on a 10" LP with the same title. This didn’t happen again to a Farnon album, although several of his LPs were issued in 4-track sections when 45 rpm Extended-Play records appeared on the scene.

The album was produced by Tutti (Toots) Camarata, the American musical director who was one of the founders of London Records in the USA. He first attracted attention in Britain when he was engaged for the expensive Technicolor musical "London Town" starring Sid Field and the Ted Heath Orchestra. The film flopped, but Camarata continued to work for a while in Britain, making LPs under his own name and also producing others, such as this Farnon album.

The two Alec Wilder works were Camarata’s choice, with the rest of the album featuring what might be termed Farnon’s standard repertoire at the time - the kind of top-quality popular music heard regularly in his BBC radio and, later, television programmes.

On 3 January 1950 the first sessions took place at London’s Kingsway Hall (both LPs on this CD were recorded in this famous venue), featuring the Robert Farnon Strings: Always, When I Grow Too Old To Dream, To A Wild Rose and Laura. Without exception they illustrate Farnon’s mastery of string writing. Farnon once confided that one of his early ambitions was to hear a large string orchestra play his arrangement of Laura.

The next sessions for the album took place on 27 January 1950, with the full orchestra assembled for the two Alec Wilder compositions. Farnon remembers that he used Wilder’s original scores, making only minor alterations to suit the special requirements of his orchestra. In The Blue Of The Evening featured Frank Reidy on clarinet. In later years Reidy performed on many Farnon sessions, and eventually became the ‘fixer’, hiring the other musicians for the orchestra.

In Dawn To Dusk (known in the USA as Rhapsody For Piano And Orchestra) Farnon chose fellow Canadian Denny Vaughan for the solo piano part. Vaughan was a talented musician who also possessed a fine singing voice. Like Farnon, he was brought from his homeland to Britain during the war, and appeared in numerous broadcasts. After the war he worked with Geraldo, before eventually returning to progress his career in radio and television in North America. (Readers are reminded that Murray Ginsberg’s fine tribute to Denny Vaughan appeared in our June 2001 issue).

Alec Wilder has been described as an urbane, well-read, intelligent and rather poetic individual. His work was highly regarded by his peers, and he wrote a book about popular music which is almost regarded as a ‘bible’ by many in the music business, while others strongly disagree with some of his findings. He came into contact with the young Frank Sinatra, who did him the honour of conducting several of his works in December 1945, which were released by Columbia Records in the USA. Wilder’s best-known tunes include I’ll Be Around and Who Can I Turn To.

The full orchestra returned to Kingsway Hall on 3 February 1950 for three numbers showcasing Farnon’s affinity with orchestral jazz: Yes! We Have No Bananas, Blue Skies and Don’t Blame Me. Each scintillating score includes a feature for Dave Goldberg, the legendary guitar player. He was a member of the Ted Heath Band in the early 1950s, and went with them on an American tour. His undoubted talent was recognised, and he decided to stay there for a while. For some reason he chose to use the surname ‘Gilbert’ (rather than Goldberg) and the US release of Don’t Blame Me credits ‘Dave Gilbert’ as the guitar soloist with the Robert Farnon Orchestra. Sadly this genius became disenchanted with the way in which the popular music business was going, and he died at an early age from a drugs overdose.

"Flirtation Walk" was recorded in April 1954 and released in Britain the following October. The titles nearly all come from American films and shows of the 1930s and 1940s, the ‘baby’ of the set being My Foolish Heart, first heard in 1950 in the Susan Hayward film of the same name. One other number stands out for its surprise inclusion on the LP: I Love A Lassie, co-composed by the Scottish comedian Sir Harry Lauder, who made it world-famous. It provides the perfect lesson for aspiring arrangers, showing the way in which Farnon can give a bright new treatment to a well-known piece which almost defies being scored for a ‘serious’ orchestra (the other obvious example on this CD is Yes! We Have No Bananas).

The title tune Flirtation Walk contains one of the maestro’s musical jokes, which he has only recently publicly admitted. It was actually noticed around ten years ago by American musician Jeff Sultanof while working on a reconstruction of the score for a possible performance. It is Farnon’s one and only brush with atonal music, and occurs at around 1 min 10 secs and lasts for just 15 seconds. It is a short bridge at the end of the first chorus, and sounds like a lapse into one of the extreme jazz styles that were emerging at that time. Farnon greatly admired (and had once met) Bela Bartók; when asked why this was his only example of atonal music he explained: "It is really a kind of mathematical music - not quite my scene. I prefer to leave such matters in the hands of the experts like Bartók."

As a young arranger, Farnon’s wicked sense of humour often delighted fellow musicians. There is a story of a new score he did for Geraldo, which contained a terrible chord - obviously unmusical and completely wrong. When the musicians protested that they couldn’t play it, Geraldo sternly told them: "If Bob Farnon’s written it, it must be right, and you must play it!" Fortunately he was let in on the joke before the work was actually broadcast.

The two albums featured on this CD are prime examples of Robert Farnon’s undoubted talent in being able to transform often simple tunes into minor light orchestral masterpieces. Each and every one of these melodies has been carefully crafted to provide a wealth of beautiful sounds, bringing fresh rewards for the attentive listener at each successive hearing.

The American releases of these albums were packaged in different LP covers, and these are reproduced in full colour on the back page of the CD booklet:

"Presenting Robert Farnon" London LL812; "Flirtation Walk" London LL1053.

Robert Farnon completed the first movement of "The Mountbatten Suite" earlier this year, and as the December issue of Journal Into Melody closed for press the first performance was scheduled to take place on 18 October in Portsmouth. RFS members who attended our London meetings in the early 1990’s may well have had the pleasure of speaking to Sir Vivian Dunn. This distinguished ‘Man of Military Music’ was also a great lover of light music, and his LPs conducting the Orchestra of the Light Music Society are still regarded as being the definitive performances of many of the works included on those fondly recalled EMI albums from 30 years ago.

Sir Vivian died on 3 April 1995 aged 86. At the time he had been working on a "Mountbatten Suite", and had already completed the second and third movements, which he called Broadlands and Man of Action. For some reason he decided that he would compose the first movement last - it was to be called Man of Destiny. Sadly he never finished his work.

Early in 2000, Sir Vivian’s son Paddy (also a welcome visitor to our London meetings) decided to try and see if his father’s suite could be completed, and he asked Robert Farnon if he would be willing to compose the first movement.

Bob and Sir Vivian had known each other during World War II (both had conducted orchestras for the entertainment of the armed forces), and had remained friends ever since. Indeed the strength of Sir Vivian’s admiration for his work was such that Robert Farnon’s music became firmly established in the repertoire of the Royal Yacht orchestra during most state and private occasions during the post war years of Vivian Dunn’s appointment as Director of Music until 1954 and, it is understood, that tradition continued uninterrupted until HMY Britannia was de-commissioned some 45 years later. One of the light music works conducted by Sir Vivian for EMI was Robert Farnon’s A La Claire Fontaine.

In the biography of Sir Vivian Dunn Fiddler on the March, there are several references to Bob and their long friendship. On page 238 Bob completes a warm tribute by saying: "It was a special privilege to have known such a great man who became, not only a personal friend, but a great hero." The book also contains a summary of the relevance and importance of the "Mountbatten Suite".

Paddy had first sought the approval of Countess Mountbatten, who was delighted at the thought of Bob being approached. Her husband, Lord Brabourne, apparently knew Robert Farnon’s wife Patricia very well, from their days in films together.

Bob agreed to the commission in July 2000, and his completed score was delivered to Paddy Dunn in May - the delay mainly due to the move from ‘La Falaise’. (Bob jokingly told Paddy that he could have finished the work sooner, but he had mislaid his copy of his treasured Lloyd Webber chord chart during the house move!)

The Principal Director of Music, Royal Marines, Lt. Col. Richard Waterer, has been arranging to have the complete score and parts copied and printed, and as we went to press we learned that Man of Destiny’s first public performance would occur in Portsmouth on 18 October at St. Mary’s Church, Fratton, played by the orchestra of the Royal Band - the new title, by Royal Command, of what was the Royal Yacht Band. The reason for this somewhat strange location is that is where the Royal Marines School of Music currently holds its monthly winter concerts, a tradition introduced by Sir Vivian when the School was located at Deal. It is also hoped that the work will be recorded for commercial release, possibly by a symphony orchestra.

Both Robert Farnon and Paddy Dunn are keen that RFS members should have the opportunity to see Bob’s original pencil sketches for the first movement, Man of Destiny, and these are reproduced in the December 2001 issue of Journal Into Melody.

Robert Farnon will be featured on a new CD in the Naxos Historical ‘British Light Music’ series. This will include both Decca and Chappell recordings, and the titles selected are: Jumping Bean, A Star Is Born, Portrait of a Flirt, Journey Into Melody, Willie the Whistler, Melody Fair, Canadian Caravan, Ottawa Heights, Mountain Grandeur, Gateway to the West, Huckle-Buckle, How Beautiful is Night, State Occasion, Taj Mahal, High Street, Sophistication Waltz, Manhattan Playboy, String Time, In a Calm, Peanut Polka. Readers will recognise that all of these tracks are available on other CDs, but Naxos is widely distributed around the world so it is good that Bob’s music will now receive strong exposure. The CD is expected in January 2002, and the catalogue number will be Naxos 8110849.

Richard Jenkinson was formerly principal cellist with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He has recently recorded a new CD of British works for the cello, and one of the tracks is Song of Scandia by Robert Farnon. In our March issue of Journal Into Melody we hope to have further information regarding the release of this CD. We understand that Richard has expressed the wish to continue the association with Robert Farnon, and Bob may compose a piece specially for him. In fact he has recently re-scored Pictures In The Fire for cello and piano, and Bob feels that it works wonderfully for this combination of instruments.

As we have reported previously, in recent months Robert Farnon has been working on a collection of new arrangements and compositions, concentrating on strings, harp and flute. As we go to press (early in October), Bob is just putting the finishing touches to the last of them, and the CD was scheduled to be recorded on 8 November at the Angel Studios, Islington, with the Royal Philharmonic Strings conducted by Jack Parnell.The titles are: Romancing the Phoenix, Little Did I Know, Coeur Brisé, For Eileen, Lady Barbara, She is Fair to be Uncompared, *En Bateau, *Laura, How Beautiful is Night, Peacehaven, For "C.K.", A Violin Miniature, Intermezzo for Harp, Occasion to Reminisce, *The Touch of your Lips and To a Young Lady. All are Robert Farnon compositions, except titles marked*.

Submit to Facebook

Light Music CDs. Some highly recommended releases.

Light Music is ignored by most Record Stores and Radio Stations, yet it is enjoyed by millions of people around the world.

You may know it as Easy Listening or Concert Music ... or maybe Middle-of-the Road. Whatever you happen to call it, Light Music offers relaxing enjoyment at any time of the day or night, and we hope that you will return regularly to this page in the Robert Farnon Society website to keep fully informed on the latest releases.

Releases up to December 2014

Submit to Facebook

"Melodies on the move"
Melodies on the move - CHRCD1CHRCD 1
This CD features 24 light and easy instrumental recordings from the vaults of Mozart Edition library.

Proceeds from the sale of this CD go to support Chichester Hospital Radio. More information here.

1 MERRY-GO-ROUND WALTZ
Alan Perry The Perry/Gardner Orchestra conducted by Alan Perry 2:12
2 LOVELY LIPS
Hans Wolf-Kraus Jack Wolfe and his Music 2:35
3 ON THE SMOOTH SIDE
Frank Chacksfield Antony Wood and his Orchestra 2:25
4 EL REMENDADO
Maurice van de Valle Armand Bernard and his Orchestra 2:25
5 MISS ANNA Louis Rey Detlef Rath and his Orchestra 2:51
6 SAY IT WITH FLOWERS
Ralf Heninger Antony Wood and his Orchestra 3:22
7 HIGHLAND HOLIDAY
Ralf Heninger Antony Wood and his Orchestra 2:33
8 OFF THE CUFF
Paul Fenhoulet Walt Peters and his Orchestra 2:36
9 SANTIAGO DE CHILE
Rudolf Maluck Orchestra Tropicana conducted by Lou Whiteson 4:26
10 LITTLE CLAUDIA
Carlos Diernhammer Jack Wolfe and his Music 1:59
11 IRISH IMP
William Gardner Antony Wood and his Orchestra 1:59
12 PHILOMENA
Hans Wolf-Kraus / Lothar Nakat Jack Wolfe and his Music 2:31
13 ON TWO CHORDS
Armand Bernard Armand Bernard and his Orchestra 2:23
14 SERENADE FOR LOVERS
Ralf Heninger Detlef Rath and his Orchestra 2:15
15 ALPINE STROLL
Louis Rey Antony Wood and his Orchestra 2:45
16 STRANGER IN THE NIGHT
Peter Thomas Peter Thomas and his Band 2:23
17 FUNNY HONEY
Carlos Diernhammer Jack Wolfe and his Music 2:22
18 TWILIGHT DREAMS
Albert Delroy Walt Peters and his Orchestra 4:06
19 JACKY’S WALTZ
Hans Wolf-Kraus Jack Wolfe and his Music 1:39
20 MAKIN’ HAY
Richard Toeman Walt Peters and his Orchestra 3:19
21 GOING STEADY
Conny Augustin Orchestra Raphaele conducted by Peter Walden 2:32
22 SOFTLY SWAYING
Harry Essex Antony Wood and his Orchestra 3:00
23 BLUE BLAZER Ralf Heninger Werner Eisbrenner and his Orchestra 1:56
24 BOMBA
Luis Gomez Orchestra Tropicana conducted by Lou Whiteson 2:12

Submit to Facebook

IAIN SUTHERLAND CONCERT ORCHESTRA
“Orient Express” - 20 Light Classics Alto ALC 1250“Orient Express” - 20 Light Classics
Alto ALC 1250

1. Waltz
2. Cockles and Mussels
3. Tea for Two
4. The Skaters' Waltz
5. Swedish Rhapsody
6. Tango
7. A Star Is Born
8. Fado
9. La Calinda
10. Gymnopedie No. 1
11. Procession of the Sardar
12. Automne
13. Praeludium
14. The Holy Boy
15. Tango: Jealousy
16. Humoresque
17. Czardas
18. Imtermezzo: Im Chambre Separée
19. Espana
20. Overture: Susannah's Secret

Submit to Facebook

GUILD LIGHT MUSIC GLCD5215
GUILD LIGHT MUSIC GLCD5215 "Song of the West"Song Of The West

1 Gateway To The West (Robert Farnon)
ROBERT FARNON AND HIS ORCHESTRA
MGM SE 3804 1960

2 "Bonanza" – Theme from the TV series (David Rose)
NELSON RIDDLE AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Capitol ST 1869 1962

3 El Rancho Grande (My Ranch) (Silvano R Ramos, arr. Percy Faith)
PERCY FAITH AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Columbia CS 8038 1957

4 Oklahoma! (Richard Rodgers)
THE MELACHRINO ORCHESTRA Conducted by GEORGE MELACHRINO
RCA LSP 2513 1962

5 Prairie Sail Car (from "Around The World In Eighty Days") (Victor Young)
THE CINEMA SOUND STAGE ORCHESTRA
Stereo Fidelity SF-2800 1958

6 Ranch House Party (from "Portrait Of A Frontier Town") (Don Gillis)
NEW CONCERT ORCHESTRA Conducted by STANFORD ROBINSON
Boosey & Hawkes O 2128 1948

7 Prairie Sunset (Ernest Tomlinson)
BOSWORTH ORCHESTRA
Bosworth BCV 1376 1962

8 Sioux War Dance (Ray Martin)
RAY MARTIN AND HIS CONCERT ORCHESTRA
Columbia DB 2882 1951

9 Colorado Trail (Traditional, arr. Robert Farnon)
ROBERT FARNON AND HIS ORCHESTRA
MGM SE 3804 1960

10 Overland To Oregon – Suite (Trevor Duncan, real name Leonard Charles Trebilco)
Unidentified Orchestra
Impress IA 222 & 223 1960

11 Stampede (Herbert Leonard Stevens)
NEW CENTURY ORCHESTRA Conducted by SIDNEY TORCH
Francis, Day & Hunter FDH 042 1947

12 Frontier Marshall (Jack Beaver)
DANISH STATE RADIO ORCHESTRA Conducted by ROBERT FARNON (‘The Melodi Light Orchestra Conducted by Ole Jensen’ on record label)
Chappell C 586 1957

13 Pow Wow (Robert Farnon)
ROBERT FARNON AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Decca LK 4119 1956

14 Tall In The Saddle (John Cacavas)
TELECAST ORCHESTRA Conducted by ROBERT FARNON
Chappell C 642 1959

15 Home On The Range (Traditional)
MANTOVANI AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Decca SKL 4073 1959

16 Rocky Trail To A Peaceful Valley (Waters; Hall)
LEROY HOLMES AND HIS ORCHESTRA
MGM 863 1955

17 Prairie Rider (Charles Williams, arr. Cecil Milner)
NEW CONCERT ORCHESTRA Conducted by JACK LEON
Boosey & Hawkes O 2193 1950

18 Colorado Sunset (Jack Brown)
NEW CENTURY ORCHESTRA Conducted by SIDNEY TORCH
Francis, Day & Hunter FDH 050 1948

19 American Panorama (Wilfred Burns)
THE SYMPHONIA ORCHESTRA Conducted by CURT ANDERSEN
Charles Brull/Harmonic CBL 493 1962

20 California Here I Come (Buddy De Sylva; Joseph Meyer; Al Jolson)
HAL MOONEY AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Mercury SR 60047 1959

21 "High Noon" - Theme from the film (Dimitri Tiomkin)
DAVID CARROLL AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Mercury MG 20156 1956

22 Lazy Cowboy (Ruth Guthrie)
RAY MARTIN AND HIS CONCERT ORCHESTRA
Columbia DB 3258 1953

23 Song Of The West (Billy Vaughn, arr. George Greeley)
BILLY VAUGHN AND HIS ORCHESTRA
DOT DLP 25442 1962

Stereo: tracks 1-5, 9, 10, 15, 20 & 23; rest in mono.

The honour of opening this collection goes to Robert Farnon, widely regarded by many as one of the finest composer/arranger/conductors of Light Music during the second half of the 20th century. Born in Toronto, Canada, Robert Joseph Farnon (1917-2005) is known for many of his catchy themes, notably Jumping Bean (on Guild GLCD5162) and Portrait of a Flirt (GLCD5120). In his later career he was in demand to arrange and conduct for major international stars such as Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Tony Bennett, Lena Horne and George Shearing. Gateway To The West is one of his earlier works, extolling his love of his native Canada. Later we hear his sensitive arrangement of the traditional folk melody Colorado Trail which contrasts strongly with another Farnon original Pow Wow.

David Rose (1910-1990) was one of the biggest names in American light music circles during the middle years of the 20th century. Born in London, England ‘lost’ him when the family moved to the USA when he was aged just four. A prolific composer and arranger, he contributed themes and incidental music to a number of top television shows, one of the most memorable being Bonanza. On this occasion the version by Nelson Riddle (1921-1985) has been selected, proving that this great American arranger and conductor’s talents extended far beyond the legendary work with Frank Sinatra which made him internationally famous.

Percy Faith (1908-1976) was also born in Toronto, Canada, and in 1940 he moved to the USA where he quickly established himself through radio and recordings. From the 1950s onwards his fame spread internationally, due to the great success of his numerous long playing albums. Unlike most of his contemporaries, Faith arranged all his own material, and his exciting and vibrant scores made his work stand out among the rest. His recordings prove that he had a love for Latin American music, and with El Rancho Grande he exploits his arranging talents to the full.

George Miltiades Melachrino (1909-1965) was one of the big names in British light music from the 1940s to the 1960s. Born in London, he became a professional musician, competent on clarinet, alto and tenor saxophone, violin and viola, and he worked with many British dance bands in the 1930s. After war service he built an orchestra which became one of the finest in the world; when long playing records arrived, Melachrino’s sold in vast quantities, especially in the USA. Many of his recordings featured the great songwriters of the day, such as Richard Rodgers (1902-1979) whose title music for Oklahoma! must be one of the most rousing numbers ever written to honour a US state.

Chicago-born Victor Young (1900-1956) enjoyed a successful career on Broadway and in Hollywood films, although his greatest triumph – the score for the film "Around The World In Eighty Days" – was completed shortly before his death, so he never knew that it gained him a posthumous Oscar. Young called the sequence featuring the Wild West Prairie Sail Car.

The American composer Donald Eugene Gillis (1912-1978) seemingly did not get the full attention from the American record industry which his talents deserved. It was the British Decca label that brought him to London in 1950 for several sessions at the Kingsway Hall which have preserved for posterity some of his best – and most quirky – creations. Anyone who can compose a piece of music called "Symphony No. 5½" is almost demanding not to be taken too seriously, and to make sure that nobody missed the joke Gillis subtitled his work "A Symphony For Fun". The first movement Perpetual Emotion is on Guild GLCD5156, while the third movement Scherzofrenia (GLCD5178) is also typical of the carefree, almost whimsical, work that he offered to music lovers in the middle years of the last century. This time the choice is his Ranch House Party from a suite called "Portrait Of A Frontier Town".

Ernest Tomlinson MBE (b.1924) is one of Britain’s most talented composers, working mainly in light music, but also highly regarded for his choral works and brass band pieces. During a very productive career, he has contributed numerous titles to the recorded music libraries of many different publishers, often under the pseudonym ‘Alan Perry’. In recent years Ernest has worked hard to preserve thousands of music manuscripts that would otherwise have been destroyed, and he is the President of the Light Music Society. Prairie Sunset is one of his numerous pieces of production music.

Raymond Stuart Martin (born Raymond Wolfgang Kohn in Vienna, 1918-1988) fled from the Nazis and settled in England before the outbreak of World War 2 where he became known as ‘Ray Martin’. He was one of the biggest names in British popular music during the 1950s, due to his work on radio, television, films and especially the recording studios. During the early part of his career he contributed several pieces to the Harmonic Mood Music Library. One of them was Sioux War Dance, and when it became noticed he made a commercial recording of it for Columbia – the EMI label that he would later manage for several of its most successful years in the mid-1950s. He returns just before our final track with Lazy Cowboy.

Trevor Duncan (real name Leonard Charles Trebilco, 1924-2005) was working as a BBC sound engineer when one of his first compositions, High Heels (on Guild GLCD5124) made the light music world sit up and take notice.Eventually his successful and prolific output mushroomed to such an extent that he had to give up his ‘day job’ at the BBC, and also find several different publishers simply because he was writing too much for just one to handle. This is illustrated by the fact that 36 of his works have already appeared on Guild Light Music CDs, and he was the featured composer in "Hall Of Fame Volume 2" (GLCD 5124). Although he wrote some catchy individual pieces, a good number of his contributions to mood music libraries were suites featuring several movements developing a distinctive main theme. One such commission was ‘Overland To Oregon’, and the separate parts have been edited together to form a continuous work. Duncan gave them the following descriptions: Main Theme, Frontier Town, Night Camp, Wagon Train, Crossing The Bighorn, Indian Country, Indian Attack, Beckoning Horizon.

Len Stevens(d. 1989 - his full name was Herbert Leonard Stevens) was a prolific British composer, contributing mood music to several different libraries, with a style that his admirers quickly grew to recognise. In common with so many of the talented musicians employed in the business, he could turn his hand to any kind of music that was needed, and he was also involved in the musical theatre. Stampede is his seventeenth Guild appearance, and it is one of the early recordings conducted by Sidney Torch (1908-1990) for the Francis, Day & Hunter mood music library.

Although little-remembered by most music lovers today, Jack Beaver (1900-1963), like the afore-mentioned Len Stevens, contributed far more music to the entertainment scene than was realised. Beaver worked at Gaumont-British Studios under Louis Levy during the 1930s, and was hired by Warner Bros. to run the music department at their British studio at Teddington in the early 1940s. His contributions to production music libraries (especially Chappell and Francis, Day & Hunter) were consistently of a high standard. Among some of the most notable are Picture Parade (GLCD5149), Cavalcade Of Youth (GLCD5195) and World Of Tomorrow (GLCD5135). Frontier Marshall is his sixteenth composition to be made widely available again on a Guild CD.

John Cacavas (1930-2014) was a prolific American composer, author and conductor, with over 1,500 titles to his credit. He has also worked widely in Britain and Europe, and in 1980 was elected president of the Composers and Lyricists Guild of America. His film scores include "Airport 1975", "Airport ‘77" and "Horror Express", as well as numerous TV series, notably "Kojak" and "Hawaii Five-O". He has contributed to several publishers’ mood music libraries, including Chappells - the source of his Tall In The Saddle. He remained active in the music business, dividing his time between homes in California and London.

Home On The Range is one of the best-loved traditional airs associated with the American West, and it receives a fine treatment by the world famous orchestra conducted by Annunzio Paolo Mantovani (1905-1980). Born in Venice, his family came to England when he was aged four and he was something of a prodigy on the violin by the time he reached sixteen. But he leaned more towards popular music, and fronted many different kinds of ensembles before long-playing records (especially when stereo arrived) brought him worldwide acclaim. Occasionally he orchestrated some of his music himself, but he built up a fine team of arrangers including Ronald Binge (1910-1979), Roland Shaw (1920-2012) and Cecil Milner (1905-1989). Unfortunately the one responsible for this piece has not been identified.

Leroy Holmes (born Alvin Holmes, 1913-1986) scored Hollywood films and radio programmes during his early career, before becoming one of the mainstays of MGM’s conducting ‘team’, also arranging many of their recordings. We are probably listening to his work in Rocky Trail To A Peaceful Valley. Eventually Holmes moved on to United Artists where he conducted many of their contract singers and also recorded albums under his own name. His screen credits include the films "The Bridge In The Jungle" (1970) and "Smile" (1975).

Londoner Charles Williams (born Isaac Cozerbreit 1893-1978) began his career accompanying silent films, then played violin under the batons of Beecham and Elgar. Right from the start of the ‘talkies’, he provided scores for numerous British movies, and his Dream Of Olwen (GLCD5192)is still remembered long after the film in which it appeared – "While I Live". By far the greatest volume of his composing skills was employed in mood music, providing hundreds of works for several libraries (especially Chappells), and over 40 have already been included on Guild CDs. On rare occasions his work was accepted by other libraries, and Prairie Rider is one of three pieces he wrote for Boosey & Hawkes.

Jackie Brown was one of Britain’s leading cinema organists, equally at home on large theatre consoles as well as their small electronic counterparts performed by enthusiasts at home. His output as a composer was relatively sparse, although light music aficionados regard his Metropolis (on Guild GLCD 5102) as one of the finest pieces of its kind. He worked on around a dozen films, and was the unseen conductor who used to direct the Billy Cotton Band for its television shows while Bill himself performed on-screen. Jackie also became a household name in Britain thanks to his regular appearances on Hughie Green’s (1920-1997) "Double Your Money" TV quiz show. Colorado Sunset is one of several pieces he wrote for the Francis, Day & Hunter mood music library.

Yet another busy composer employed by British production music publishers was Bernard Wilfred Harris, better known as ‘Wilfred Burns’ (1917-1990) with over 200 titles to his credit. After service during the Second World War he worked at Elstree studios before eventually becoming a freelance film composer and musical director. His first of over twenty films was around 1949, with his final score in the 1970s. His best-known was probably the large screen version of the popular BBC television series "Dad’s Army" in 1971. American Panorama is one of his many pieces accepted by various London publishers, and it is his eighth contribution to a Guild CD.

California Here I Come is usually played as a bright up-tempo number. Our version features the work of Harold (Hal) Mooney (1911-1995), an American composer, arranger and conductor who worked with most of the top bands and singers during a long career. It demonstrates how a fresh approach to a familiar and often hackneyed melody can be given fresh life in the hands of an expert arranger.

The familiar theme from the film "High Noon" is conducted by David Carroll (1913-2008 – real name Rodell Walter ‘Nook’ Schreier) who was well-known in his native USA as a conductor and arranger. In the mid-1940s he joined the newly formed Mercury Records where he spent the next 15 years. Initially employed as an arranger and conductor, he progressed to being a producer and was later promoted as head of artists and repertoire.

Last on the podium this time, with the title track for this collection, is Richard ‘Billy’ Vaughn (1919-1991), born in Glasgow, Kentucky, who began his career playing piano and singing baritone in the group ‘The Hilltoppers’, before joining Dot Records as musical director where he accompanied many of the label’s top singers. In 1965 he began touring internationally with his band, achieving considerable popularity in Japan, Korea and Brazil. His own composition Song Of The West receives a suitably dramatic interpretation by George Greeley (born Georgio Guariglia, 1917-2007) who was an American pianist, conductor and composer working extensively in films and television. During his early career he arranged for popular bandleaders such as Tommy Dorsey. In the 1950s he was a staff pianist at Columbia Pictures, and received particular praise for his work on "On The Waterfront" (1954) and "The Eddy Duchin Story" (1956). In later years he performed as piano soloist and guest conductor with leading orchestras in many countries.

David Ades

Submit to Facebook

GUILD LIGHT MUSIC GLCD5216

GUILD LIGHT MUSIC GLCD5216 "Springtime"Springtime

1 The First Day Of Spring (Leroy Anderson) LEROY ANDERSON AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Brunswick STA 3030 1960

2 April Is Coming (Assi Rahbani; Mansour Rahbani, arr. Ron Goodwin)
RON GOODWIN AND HIS CONCERT ORCHESTRA
Parlophone PCS 3028 1962

3 Tip Toe Through The Tulips With Me (Joseph A. Burke; Al Dubin)
FRANK CHACKSFIELD AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Decca LK 4135 1956

4 Blossom (Mark Charlap, real name Morris Isaac Charlip)
RICHARD HAYMAN AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Mercury MG 20048 1954

5 Spring In Baden Baden (Frühling In Baden-Baden) (Lothar Brühne)
BADEN-BADEN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Conducted by HANS ROSBAUD
Ariola 36 809 C 1958

6 Springtime (Also known as "Love’s Springtime") (Cedric King Palmer)
THE BOSWORTH ORCHESTRA
Bosworth BCV 1274 1961

7 Mayflies (Edward Stanelli)
NEW CONCERT ORCHESTRA Conducted by DOLF VAN DER LINDEN (‘Nat Nyll’ on disc label)
Boosey & Hawkes O 2289 1957

8 Spring Cruise (Peter Yorke)
DANISH STATE RADIO ORCHESTRA Conducted by ROBERT FARNON (‘Melodi Light Orchestra Conducted by Ole Jensen’ on disc label)
Chappell C 417 1952

9 Spring Gambol (Harold Smart)
THE LIGHT SYMPHONIA Conducted by ROBERTO CAPELLI
Conroy BM 270 1961

10 Mother Nature (Harry Rabinowitz)
NEW CONCERT ORCHESTRA Conducted by DOLF VAN DER LINDEN (‘Nat Nyll’ on disc label)
Boosey & Hawkes O 2344 1959

11 Garden Party (George French)
L’ORCHESTRE DEVEREAUX Conducted by GEORGES DEVEREAUX
Francis, Day & Hunter FDH 1205 1953

12 Those Far Away Hills (Reginald King)
REGENT CLASSIC ORCHESTRA
Bosworth BC 1230 1949

13 Spring Promenade (Frederic Curzon)
NEW CONCERT ORCHESTRA Conducted by CEDRIC DUMONT
Boosey & Hawkes OT 2336 1958

14 Rainbow’s Glory (Cedric King Palmer)
DOLF VAN DER LINDEN AND HIS METROPOLE ORCHESTRA
Paxton PR 584 1954

15 High Cloud (Herbert Leonard Stevens)
CRAWFORD LIGHT ORCHESTRA (probably STUTTGART RADIO ORCH)
Josef Weinberger Theme Music JW 131-A 1957

16 Spring Fashion (Alan Braden)
GROUP-FORTY ORCHESTRA Conducted by LAURIE JOHNSON
KPM 052 1960

17 Spring Song (Haydn Wood)
QUEEN’S HALL LIGHT ORCHESTRA Conducted by CHARLES WILLIAMS
Chappell C 214 1945

18 Prelude For Gardenias (Peter Barrington, real name Felton Rapley)
NEW CONCERT ORCHESTRA Conducted by JACK LEON
Boosey & Hawkes OT 2195 1950

19 Forest Mood (Frederic Bayco)
THE BOSWORTH ORCHESTRA
Bosworth BCV 1359 1961

20 June Is Calling (Wilfrid Sanderson)
NEW CONCERT ORCHESTRA Conducted by JAY WILBUR
Boosey & Hawkes O 2004 1944

21 April Kiss (Peter Dennis, real name Dennis Alfred Berry)
DOLF VAN DER LINDEN AND HIS METROPOLE ORCHESTRA
Paxton PR 527 1952

22 (I’ll Be With You) In Apple Blossom Time (Fleetson; Albert Von Tilzer)
ERNEST MAXIN AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Top Rank BUY 020 1960

23 Sunbeams And Butterflies (Albert William Ketèlbey)
ELITE NOVELTY ORCHESTRA
Bosworth BC 1062 1938

24 We’ll Gather Lilacs (from "Perchance To Dream") (Ivor Novello, arr. Sidney Torch)
QUEEN’S HALL LIGHT ORCHESTRA Conducted by CHARLES WILLIAMS
BBC London Transcription Service 12PH 32255/6 1945

25 Beautiful Spring (Paul Lincke)
LONDON PROMENADE ORCHESTRA Conducted by ERIC ROGERS
Decca LF 1166 1954

Stereo: tracks 1 & 2; rest in mono.

Leroy Anderson(1908-1975) is probably the best-loved American light music composer of his generation. For many years he was the chief arranger for the Boston Pops, and its famous conductor Arthur Fiedler introduced many Anderson novelties to an appreciative world. Leroy’s contribution to this collection is simply the composer’s paean of praise for what many regard as the most welcome season of the year, since it ushers in the warmer and lighter days that are so refreshing after the long, gloomy winter months. The First Day Of Spring is certainly greeted by many with eager anticipation, and it can’t arrive too soon!

Ronald (Ron) Alfred Goodwin (1925-2003) was a brilliant British composer, arranger and conductor, who rose to prominence in Britain during the 1950s through a series of recordings that revealed a fresh and vibrant style of light music that greatly appealed to the public. His ability to arrange and compose soon resulted in commissions to work in films, and popular movies like "633 Squadron" (1964), "Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines" (1965) and Alfred Hitchcock’s "Frenzy" (1972) which introduced him to a worldwide audience. April Is Coming was featured in an album of music associated with Lebanon.

Frank (Francis Charles) Chacksfield (1914-1995) conducted one of the finest light orchestras in the world, and during his long recording career with Decca alone, it is estimated that his albums sold more than 20 million copies. Tip Toe Through The Tulips has been popular ever since it first appeared in the 1929 movie musical "Gold Diggers of Broadway".

Richard Warren Joseph Hayman (1920-2014) as well as being a respected arranger and conductor, was also a harmonica virtuoso, and he sometimes adapted his scores of popular melodies so that he could perform on his favourite instrument (he can be heard in Blossom in this collection). He followed Leroy Anderson as an arranger for the Boston ‘Pops’ Orchestra over a period of more than 30 years, and also served as Music Director of Mercury Records. He was regularly in demand to orchestrate Broadway shows and film soundtracks, and notable among his own compositions are No Strings Attached (GLCD5105) and Skipping Along (GLCD5131). His recordings reissued on Guild now total 26.

Lothar Brühne (1900-1958) was a German composer who seems to have specialised in writing for films. His work has already been featured on Guild GLCD5135 (the exuberant Sport And Music for the Bosworth Mood Music Library), and this time he provides the charming Frühling in Baden-Baden.

Cedric King Palmer (1913-1999) was born in Eastbourne, on the south coast of England; he chose not to use his first name professionally. He became a prolific composer of mood music contributing over 600 works during a period of 30 years to the recorded music libraries of several London publishers. He was able to adapt his writing to many different styles, and our title track Springtime and Rainbow’s Glory find him in a reflective, lyrical mood.

Edward Stanelli (real name Edward Stanley De Groot, 1895-1961) was a British composer and comedian who may still be remembered by some people for his "Hornchestra", constructed from a weird collection of electric and bulb motor horns on which he played jazz music. He demonstrated this device on 2 April 1937 when he made his television debut from Alexandra Palace in London. During his early career it seemed that his future was on the concert platform, both as a conductor and violinist. But such was his popularity with audiences in 1930s music halls that he tended to rely upon comedy rather than a ‘serious’ career in music. Happily he did not completely ignore his talents as a composer: in this collection he is represented with Mayflies, and his longer work Atlantis has previously appeared on Guild GLCD5118 as part of a compilation appropriately titled "Buried Treasures".

Peter Yorke (1902-1966) worked with many leading British bands during his formative years, some of the most notable being Percival Mackey, Jack Hylton and Henry Hall. Later on he conducted one of Britain’s most popular broadcasting orchestras from the 1940s until the 1960s. Peter Yorke was also a gifted composer and he created many stunning arrangements that brought out some fine performances from the top musicians he always employed. Spring Cruise is one of many works he contributed to British production music libraries, and it is his nineteenth composition to be included on a Guild CD.

During the middle years of the last century Harold Smart was well known in Britain as a popular organist. He was usually associated with the Hammond Organ, and followed in the footsteps of his famous father Charles Smart, with whom he sometimes performed. Harold excelled at recordings in strict dance tempo throughout, but he does not appear to have been a prolific composer. Therefore it is nice to be able to hear his Spring Gambol, which reveals another aspect of his considerable talents.

Harry Rabinowitz MBE (born Johannesburg, South Africa 1916) came to England in 1946 and was employed by the BBC, first as a pianist then as conductor of the BBC Revue Orchestra. In the 1970s he was Head of Music for London Weekend Television, and he also conducted a number of film scores. His composition Mother Nature is his seventh on a Guild CD; sometimes he wrote under the pseudonym ‘Andy Thurlow’.

George French (born Bentley, Yorkshire, 1921) was a British violinist who broadcast frequently on the BBC in the happy times of the last century when radio stations actually employed ‘live’ musicians. He contributed to many popular series ("Music While You Work" being one prime example) and performed (often as leader) for most of the well-known conductors. He also had a gift for composing, and Garden Party is his fifth appearance on a Guild CD.

Reginald Claude McMahon King (1904-1991) was an accomplished pianist, who performed under the baton of Sir Henry Wood at the Proms soon after he completed his studies at London’s Royal Academy. In 1927 he took his orchestra into Swan & Edgar’s restaurant at their Piccadilly Circus store, where they remained until the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. During this period he also started broadcasting regularly (his total number of broadcasts exceeded 1,400), and he made numerous recordings, often featuring his own attractive compositions. Once again we feature him as a contributor to one of London’s production music libraries with Those Far Away Hills, his ninth composition on Guild.

London-born Frederic Curzon (1899-1973) was a charming, unassuming man who devoted his early career to working in the theatre, and like so many of his contemporaries he gradually became involved in providing music for silent films. As well as being a fine pianist and conductor, he also played the organ, and his first big success as a composer was his "Robin Hood Suite" in 1937. This encouraged him to devote more of his time to writing and broadcasting, and several of his works have become light music ‘standards’, notably March Of The Bowmen (from "Robin Hood Suite") on GLCD5106, and The Boulevardier (GLCD5177). Frederic Curzon was eventually appointed Head of Light Music at London publishers Boosey and Hawkes (where his Spring Promenade originated), and for a while was also President of the Light Music Society.

Len Stevens(d. 1989) (his full name was Herbert Leonard Stevens) was a prolific British composer, contributing mood music to several different libraries, with a style that his admirers quickly grew to recognise. In common with so many of the talented musicians employed in the business, he could turn his hand to any kind of music that was needed, and he was also involved in the musical theatre. High Cloud comes from the Josef Weinberger mood music library.

For around three decades from the 1960s onwards Alan Braden was a familiar name on British Television as the musical director for many top variety shows. He also arranged and composed a fair amount of the music involved, although he was not always credited. Spring Fashion was one of his early works for the new KPM Music Library.

Yorkshireman Haydn Wood(1882-1959) enjoyed much success during the early years of the last century with ballads, before concentrating on full scale orchestral works and suites. Roses of Picardy has been in the repertoire of most singers of the 20th century (even Frank Sinatra!), and that alone should justify Haydn Wood’s place among the great popular composers. Recent recordings of his works have demonstrated the depth and wide scope of his composing abilities, especially in suites. Spring Song is a delicate tone poem that rivals the works of many of his peers.

Edmund Felton Rapley, ARCM, (1907-1976) graduated from being a church organist in Gosport, to a familiar name on the BBC especially during the 1940s and 1950s. His own pieces included the Overture Down The Solent (on Guild GLCD 5140) and the catchy Peacock Patrol (written under the pseudonym ‘Peter Barrington’) on GLCD 5143. He wears his ‘Barrington’ hat again for Prelude For Gardenias.

London-born Frederic Bayco (sometimes spelt Fredric, 1913-1970) was an organist and composer who contributed pieces to several recorded music libraries. He was born in London, and attended Brighton School of Music. Later he was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists. Many of his compositions have an historic or martial feel, although the inspiration for Forest Mood is simply the beauty of nature. During the 1960s he was Chairman of The Light Music Society.

Wilfred (Wilfrid) Ernest Sanderson (1878-1935) was the son of a Wesleyan Methodist minister. Although born in Ipswich, he was educated in London, and from 1895 to 1904 studied the organ as pupil assistant under Frederick Bridge at Westminster Abbey. Thereafter he appears to have based himself in the Yorkshire town of Doncaster, where he was Organist of the Parish Church from 1904 to 1923. This seems to have been his most productive period as a composer; in total he wrote around 170 ballads and several short piano pieces. He died in Nutfield, Surrey, from typhoid at the relatively early age of 56.

Peter Dennis hides the true identity of Londoner Dennis Alfred Berry (1921-1994), who also composed (sometimes in collaboration with others) under pseudonyms such as Frank Sterling, Charles Kenbury and Michael Rodney. For part of the 1950s he ran the Paxton library (from which comes April Kiss), but at the same time he also contributed titles to other publishers. Eventually he was asked by Southern Music to launch their new Mood Music Library which issued its first recordings on 78s in 1960.

In Britain Ernest Maxin became known in the 1960s and 1970s for his work as producer and director of many popular television programmes. He also made a few recordings (he has already appeared on a previous Guild CD with No Orchids For My Lady - GLCD5182), but whether or not he actually had a hand in arranging and/or conducting the music is hard to discover. His contribution to this CD is the popular song (I’ll Be With You) In Apple Blossom Time.

Albert William Ketèlbey (1875-1959), born in the Lozells area of Birmingham, was a highly successful composer, who earned the equivalent of millions of pounds during the peak of his popularity. Pieces such as In a Monastery Garden (GLCD5182), The Phantom Melody, In a Persian Market (GLCD5120) and Bells Across the Meadow (GLCD5108)brought him international fame, no doubt assisted by his enthusiastic participation in the rapidly growing business of producing gramophone records. Many of his works were chosen by London publishers Bosworth & Co. for their mood music library, and Sunbeams And Butterflies is an early example in their catalogue.

Ivor Novello (born David Ivor Davies 1893-1951) was a Welsh composer, singer and actor who created some of the most popular shows in London’s West End during the first half of the last century. One of these was "Perchance To Dream" from which comes We’ll Gather Lilacs In The Spring Again… The melody is so good that it happily survives without the familiar lyrics, although our version is considerably enhanced with a superb arrangement by Sidney Torch (1908-1990). It seems he never recorded this commercially, so we are fortunate that a transcription disc of a BBC broadcast from 1945 has survived. Apart from many of his songs which have become standards, Ivor Novello continues to be remembered for the annual awards which bear his name, held in London each Spring.

The German composer Carl Emil Paul Lincke (born in Berlin 1866-1946) worked as a theatre conductor and music publisher in Berlin around the turn of the century. He spent two years in Paris as musical director of the famous Folies-Bergère, but then returned to Berlin, where he conducted at the Apollo Theatre. A versatile musician, he started with the violin, changed to the bassoon and then finally to the piano. He became known around the world for his Glow Worm (on Guild GLCD5106 & 5143), but this was just one number in a large body of musical works. He was generally considered to be ‘the father of Berlin operetta’, putting him (in German speaking countries, at least) on a par with Johann Strauss and Franz Lehar. His Beautiful Spring provides a fitting finale to this seasonal collection.

 

David Ades

Submit to Facebook
Page 13 of 65

Login Form RFS

Hi to post comments, please login, or create an account first.
We cannot be too careful with a world full of spammers. Apologies for the inconvenience caused.

Keep in Touch on Facebook!    

 If you have any comments or questions about the content of our website or Light Music in general, please join the Robert Farnon Society Facebook page.

Contact Geoff Leonard - editor of the RFS website
Contact Geoff Leonard to submit new articles only, please.

About Geoff 123
Geoff Leonard was born in Bristol. He spent much of his working career in banking but became an independent record producer in the early nineties, specialising in the works of John Barry and British TV theme compilations.
He also wrote liner notes for many soundtrack albums, including those by John Barry, Roy Budd, Ron Grainer, Maurice Jarre and Johnny Harris. He co-wrote two biographies of John Barry in 1998 and 2008, and is currently working on a biography of singer, actor, producer Adam Faith.
He joined the Internet Movie Data-base (www.imdb.com) as a data-manager in 2001 and looked after biographies, composers and the music-department, amongst other tasks. He retired after nine years loyal service in order to continue writing.