Robert Farnon

Biography

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 1-7 of 7 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    The Golden Age of Light Music: The Composer Conducts, Vol. 3
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5214 Release Date: 08/12/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Percy Faith,  Rudolf Friml,  Leroy Anderson,  Hal Mooney  ... 
    Conductor:  Percy Faith,  Rudolf Friml,  Leroy Anderson,  Hal Mooney  ... 
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  • 2.
    The Golden Age Of Light Music: My Dream Is Yours
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5209 Release Date: 07/08/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Victor Herbert,  Harry Warren,  Mischa Spoliansky,  John Frederic Coots  ... 
    Conductor:  Percy Faith,  Johny Clegg,  Annuncio Paolo Mantovani,  Frank Cordell  ... 
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  • 3.
    The Golden Age Of Light Music: Light And Latin
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5213 Release Date: 06/10/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ernesto Lecuona,  Ary Barroso,  James Francis McHugh,  Zequinha de Abreu  ... 
    Conductor:  Werner Muller,  Percy Faith,  Paul Weston,  Carmen Dragon  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Clebanoff Strings
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  • 4.
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5212 Release Date: 05/20/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frank Sterling,  Clive Richardson,  Len Stevens,  Cecil Milner  ... 
    Conductor:  Fernand Terby,  Jack Leon,  Sidney Torch,  Hans May  ... 
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  • 5.
    The Golden Age Of Light Music: Ca C'est Paris
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5207 Release Date: 02/11/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  José Padilla,  Vernon Duke,  Roger Roger,  Guy Lafarge  ... 
    Conductor:  Jos Cleber,  Robert Farnon,  Roger Roger,  Hal Mooney  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Telecast Ensemble
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  • 6.
    The Golden Age Of Light Music: Non-stop To Nowhere
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5206 Release Date: 12/10/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jerry Bock,  Florian Zabach,  Raymond Hubbell,  André Previn  ... 
    Performer:  Florian Zabach
    Conductor:  Alfred Newman,  Florian Zabach,  Philip Green,  Percy Faith  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rawicz & Landauer
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  • 7.
    The Golden Age Of Light Music: Here's To Holidays
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5205 Release Date: 11/12/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wally Stott,  Renato Rascel,  Philip Buchel,  James Frederick Hanley  ... 
    Performer:  Dolores Ventura
    Conductor:  Wally Stott,  Richard Hayman,  Robert Farnon,  Red Nichols  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Envoy Strings
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  • 8.
    The Golden Age of Light Music: Great British Composers, Vol. 2
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5203 Release Date: 10/08/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wally Stott,  Charles Williams,  Haydn Wood,  Vivian Ellis  ... 
    Conductor:  Robert Farnon,  William Hodgson,  Sidney Torch,  Stanford Robinson  ... 
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  • 9.
    The Golden Age of Light Music: Fiddles and Bows
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5201 Release Date: 09/10/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Emile Deltour,  Dorothy Fields,  Cole Porter,  Steve Race  ... 
    Conductor:  Roger Roger,  Robert Farnon,  Frederick Fennell,  Steve Race  ... 
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  • 10.
    The Golden Age Of Light Music: Cinema Classics
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5202 Release Date: 07/09/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Max Steiner,  Elmer Bernstein,  Miklós Rózsa,  Richard Addinsell  ... 
    Performer:  Ronnie Aldrich,  Russ Conway
    Conductor:  Cyril Ornadel,  Al Caiola,  Ken Jones,  Billy Vaughn  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Dreamers
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  • 11.
    The Golden Age Of Light Music: A Glorious Century Of Light Music
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5200 Release Date: 04/09/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jerome Kern,  Vernon Duke,  Ron Goodwin,  Jule Styne  ... 
    Conductor:  Cyril Ornadel,  Paul Mauriat,  Ron Goodwin,  Annuncio Paolo Mantovani  ... 
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  • 12.
    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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  • 13.
    The Golden Age Of Light Music: Melodies For The Starlight Hours
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5196 Release Date: 01/08/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Katscher,  Jerome Kern,  Frederick Loewe,  Hubert Giraud  ... 
    Performer:  Steve Race,  Harry Pitch
    Conductor:  Laurie Johnson,  Buddy Bregman,  Percy Faith,  Andre Kostelanetz  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ferrante & Teicher
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  • 14.
    The Golden Age Of Light Music: Nature's Realm
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5194 Release Date: 12/11/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Harold Arlen,  Peter Yorke,  Lothar Olias  ... 
    Performer:  The Wayfarers
    Conductor:  Sidney Torch,  Morton Gould,  Frank Chacksfield,  Ray Martin  ... 
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  • 15.
    The Golden Age Of Light Music: Great British Composers, Vol. 1
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5195 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Eric Coates,  Haydn Wood,  Frederic Curzon,  Richard Addinsell  ... 
    Conductor:  Eric Johnson,  Charles Williams,  Frederic Curzon,  Muir Mathieson  ... 
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  • 16.
    Golden Age Of Light Music: Strings Afire
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5191 Release Date: 10/09/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Herman Clebanoff,  George Gershwin,  Herman Hupfeld,  Ron Goodwin  ... 
    Performer:  Roger Williams
    Conductor:  Herman Clebanoff,  Frederick Fennell,  Roger Williams,  Cyril Stapleton  ... 
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  • 17.
    The Golden Age Of Light Music: The Art Of The Arranger, Vol. 2
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5193 Release Date: 10/09/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Rodgers,  Jack Strachey,  George Forrest,  George Gershwin  ... 
    Performer:  Gordon Jenkins
    Conductor:  Buddy Bregman,  Angela Morley,  David Rose,  Cyril Ornadel  ... 
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  • 18.
    The Golden Age Of Light Music: Stereo Into The Sixties
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5192 Release Date: 09/11/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Gershwin,  Herman Clebanoff,  Annuncio Paolo Mantovani,  Ron Goodwin  ... 
    Performer:  Russ Conway,  Neill Sanders
    Conductor:  Frederick Fennell,  Herman Clebanoff,  Annuncio Paolo Mantovani,  Ron Goodwin  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ferrante & Teicher
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  • 19.
    The Golden Age Of Light Music: Holidays For Strings
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5189 Release Date: 08/14/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leroy Anderson,  Richard Whiting / W. Fran,  George Gershwin,  Alexander Borodin  ... 
    Conductor:  Leroy Anderson,  Jack Shaindlin,  Frederick Fennell,  David Carroll  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Clebanoff Strings,  Music of the Mountains
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  • 20.
    The Golden Age Of Light Music: The Art Of The Arranger, Vol. 1
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5188 Release Date: 07/10/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jacques Offenbach,  Con Conrad,  Frederick Loewe,  Ray Henderson  ... 
    Performer:  Jack Laroque
    Conductor:  Hal Mooney,  Buddy Bregman,  Cyril Ornadel,  Morton Gould  ... 
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  • 21.
    The Golden Age Of Light Music: Light & Easy
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5187 Release Date: 06/12/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leroy Anderson,  Kurt Weill,  Cole Porter,  Harry Rabinowitz  ... 
    Performer:  Ronnie Chamberlain
    Conductor:  Leroy Anderson,  Curt Andersen,  Dolf van der Linden,  Mahlon Merrick  ... 
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  • 22.
    Golden Age Of Light Music - A Second A-Z Of Light Music
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5182 Release Date: 04/10/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Graeme Stuart,  Toni Leutwiler,  J. George Johnson,  Cecil Milner  ... 
    Performer:  Mitch Miller
    Conductor:  Curt Andersen,  Percy Faith,  Harry Davidson,  Sidney Torch  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Regent Classic Orchestra,  Symphonia Orchestra,  New World Theatre Orchestra  ... 
    Recommendation
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  • 23.
    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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  • 24.
    The Golden Age Of Light Music: The Lost Transcriptions, Vol. 3
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5184 Release Date: 03/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sydney Baynes,  Noel Coward,  Jonny Heynkens,  Cole Porter  ... 
    Performer:  Denny Vaughan
    Conductor:  Annuncio Paolo Mantovani,  Al Orchestra Sack,  Van Phillips,  Peter Yorke  ... 
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  • 25.
    The Golden Age Of Light Music: A Return Trip To The Library
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5183 Release Date: 01/10/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Cedric King Palmer,  Paul Fenoulhet,  Tom Wyler,  Laurie Johnson  ... 
    Conductor:  Walter Collins,  Tom Wyler,  Robert Farnon,  Dolf van der Linden  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Club Quintet
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