Robert Farnon


Born: July 24, 1917; Toronto, Ontario, Canada   Died: April 23, 2005; Guersney, England  
Robert Farnon as a composer of light classical and "mood music," is a rival to figure such as Eric Coates, David Rose, and Percy Faith. He has also been notably successful in the field of film music since the 1940's.

Robert Joseph Farnon was born into a musical family in Toronto, Canada in 1917. He showed a natural aptitude as a musician, and at age 19 was already being employed as an arranger with the Canadian Broadcasting Company
Read more Orchestra in Toronto, under the direction of Percy Faith. Farnon succeeded Faith as director of the orchestra when Faith departed Canada for America.

Farnon's main interest at the time lay in writing serious music, despite the fact that he enjoyed great success with his arrangements. At age 22, he composed his first symphony, which was performed by the Toronto Symphony in 1941, and later by the Philadelphia Orchestra. A second symphony followed a year later, and it, too, received performances in Canada, but Farnon discovered that he had little personal affinity for writing works of that depth and dimension, talented though he might have been.

It was during his service with the Canadian army during World War II, when he was assigned as a band leader and sent to England, that Farnon discovered the light classical music of composers such as Charles Williams and Eric Coates. This was something of a revelation to him--their brand of music was internally complex while not overly profound, inventive and expressive without being pretentious. Their work became something of the model upon which he chose to build his career as a composer, and that brand of light classical music led naturally, in turn, to film composition.

Farnon made his career in England after the war, writing mood music for Chappell Music, a task at which he was eminently successful, his music not only popular in the broadcasts for which it was intended, but also entering the repertory of numerous pops orchestras in England and around the world. Farnon soon entered the field of film music as well, writing his first score in 1948 for the upper-class romantic comedy Spring In Park Lane, produced by Herbert Wilcox, and the music for its direct sequel Maytime In Mayfair.

In 1951, Farnon was assigned to write the score for his first major international film, Captain Horatio Hornblower, based on the exploits of C.S. Forrester's naval hero of the Napoleonic era, starring Gregory Peck. A Warner Bros. British production directed by legendary action filmmaker Raoul Walsh, and starring Gregory Peck, Hornblower was a hit around the world and remains, as an oft-revived and telecast film, Farnon's best known screen work as well, virtually his magnum opus. He subsequently had assignments for films such as Gentlemen Marry Brunettes and the screen adaptation of The Little Hut, which left relatively little impression on the public as films. In the 1960's, his screen assignments included some slightly higher profile work, such as the music for the Hayley Mills film The Truth About Spring and also the all-star western adventure drama Shalako.

Farnon has remained a top composer in his field for 50 years. In addition to his film scores, his popular instruments include "How Beautiful Is Night," "Journey Into Melody," "Pictures in the Fire," "Westminster Waltz," and "A Promise of Spring." In addition to its melodic content, Farnon's music is noted for its deceptively complex internal structure, which makes it as interesting as it is attractive. A quiet, self-effacing man, without the gift for self-promotion that rivals such as Percy Faith or David Rose ever showed, Farnon has never had a high-visibility creative role, preferring to work quietly and show himself through his work. In 1992, Reference Recordings issued a CD of Farnon conducting his own concert pieces and a suite derived of the Captain Horatio Hornblower score. Read less
Browse 1-12 of 12 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Operatic Recital
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002067102 Release Date: 07/08/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Georges Bizet,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Gaetano Donizetti  ... 
    Performer:  Eugene Conley
    Conductor:  Royalton Kisch,  Alberto Erede,  Warwick Braithwaite,  Robert Farnon
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  • 2.
    The Road To Hong Kong; Say One For Me [original Soundtracks]
    Label: Sepia Records   Catalog: 1216 Release Date: 02/12/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  James Van Heusen
    Conductor:  Robert Farnon,  Lionel Newman
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  • 3.
    British Light Music
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 1381 Release Date: 03/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Williams,  Robert Farnon,  Ray Martin,  Arthur Wood  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Williams,  Sidney Torch,  Ray Martin,  Robert Farnon  ... 
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  • 4.
    Summertime - Beautiful Arias & Classical Songs
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001297102 Release Date: 05/26/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jacques Offenbach,  Friedrich von Flotow,  Paraire Tomoana,  Salvatore Cardillo  ... 
    Performer:  Huguette Tourangeau,  Dame Joan Sutherland,  Renée Fleming,  François Rive  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Bonynge,  Jeffrey Tate,  Ian Dean,  Edoardo Müller  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lausanne Pro Arte Chorus,  Suisse Romande Chorus,  Suisse Romande Orchestra  ... 
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  • 5.
    José Carreras Sings Memory From Cats & 15 Other Love Songs
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 416973 Release Date: 11/13/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Nicholas Brodszky,  Salvatore Cardillo,  Cesare Andrea Bixio,  Agustín Lara  ... 
    Performer:  José Carreras
    Conductor:  Roberto Benzi,  Edoardo Müller,  Enrique Garcia-Asensio,  Robert Farnon
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  Robert Farnon Orchestra
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  • 6.
    The Voice Of Romance / Bartoli, Bergonzi, Carreras, Et Al
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 472630 Release Date: 01/28/2003   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Eldo Di Lazzaro,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Carlo Bergonzi,  Susanne Marsee,  Beverly Sills  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Herbert von Karajan,  Henry Mancini,  Leone Magiera  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Mancini Orchestra  ... 
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  • 7.
    Eloquence - Tonight! - Hits From The Musicals
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 468139 Release Date: 03/27/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Andrew Lloyd Webber,  Richard Rodgers,  Cole Porter,  Mitchell Leigh  ... 
    Performer:  José Carreras,  Simon Estes,  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa,  Sylvia McNair  ... 
    Conductor:  Robert Farnon,  Willie Anthony Waters,  Nelson Riddle,  John Mauceri
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Robert Farnon Orchestra,  Munich Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Nelson Riddle Orchestra  ... 
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  • 8.
    Gershwin: Rhapsody In Blue, Etc / Stanley Black
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 448953 Release Date: 11/11/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Gershwin
    Performer:  Stanley Black
    Conductor:  Stanley Black,  Robert Farnon
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Festival Orchestra
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  • 9.
    José Carreras - Love Is...
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 412270 Release Date: 10/30/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Andrew Lloyd Webber,  Marvin Hamlisch,  Leonard Bernstein,  Walter Gross  ... 
    Performer:  José Carreras
    Conductor:  Robert Farnon
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Robert Farnon Orchestra
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  • 10.
    Farnon: Captain Horatio Hornblower, Etc / Farnon, Royal Po
    Label: Reference Recordings   Catalog: 47 Release Date: 12/17/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Farnon
    Performer:  Raymond Cohen,  Aline Brewer
    Conductor:  Robert Farnon,  Douglas Gamley
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 11.
    Grofé: Grand Canyon Suite;  Gershwin / Black, Farnon
    Label: London/Decca Weekend Classics   Catalog: 425508 Release Date: 09/13/1989   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Gershwin,  Ferde Grofé
    Conductor:  Robert Farnon,  Stanley Black
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Festival Orchestra
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