Robert Farnon Society

Robert Farnon Society
Robert Farnon Society

Robert Farnon society

Here you will find pages for Robert Farnon, Journal into Melody, and Legends of Light Music.

This page honours Robert Farnon's amazing compositions from 1917 until 2005. In December 2013, the Robert Farnon Society published the final print run of "Journal Into Melody." 

Robert Farnon

Composer, arranger, conductor, and trumpeter Robert (Joseph) Farnon was born in Toronto on July 24, 1917, and passed away in Guernsey, United Kingdom, on April 23, 2005. Farnon began by studying the violin, then at the ages of seven and nine, he played the piano with his mother and Jack Gray. He started playing drums in his brother Brian's dance band in 1930. He also studied percussion under Duncan Snider. However, by 1934, he had switched to playing the trumpet solely. He performed in the CRBC and Toronto dance bands led by Bus Browne, Stanley St John, Bob Shuttleworth, and others last printed edition.  When Farnon was a composition student of Louis Weizman in the 1930s, he organized music for Faith's choral ensembles as well as for André Kostelanetz's and Paul Whiteman's US orchestras. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Canadian band gave the world premiere performance of his first symphony, Symphonic Suite, on January 7, 1941. It was also performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra on numerous occasions. 

Journal of Melodies: music publishers

Journal Into Melody (JIM) publishes stories about prominent figures in the Light Music industry as well as other content including record reviews and emails. The Robert Farnon Society, which has continuously maintained its momentum and publishing record without a break since 1956, deserves recognition for the Journal. The current pattern continues to portend success in the future. Throughout these years recording companies, and the Robert Farnon Society have relied heavily on the Journal.  The Journal has been the main conduit for Society members outside of Britain to stay in touch with the Robert Farnon Society. But most importantly, "Journal Into Melody" paints a picture of Robert Farnon & Charles Williams, a musician who was truly exceptional. The two Indexes include a substantial amount of information—more than enough to fill the pages of a huge book—references to articles on him. To honour Robert Farnon, the Robert Farnon Society was established. The Society has performed this job admirably, as this Index's perusal demonstrates.

Keeping Canadian Connections: light orchestral music

Despite being portrayed as one of Canada's forgotten musicians, Farnon maintained several ties to his birth country. The pleasure of Your Company was written for Oscar Peterson, Scherzo for trumpet and orchestra (recorded by the CBC Winnipeg Orchestra), Rhapsody for violin and orchestra (recorded by Steven Staryk), Prelude and Dance for harmonica and orchestra (written for and recorded by Tommy Reilly), and Saxophone Tripartido for tenor saxophone and orchestra (written for and recorded by Tommy Reilly) (premiered by the Canadian-born saxophonist Bob Burns with the London Philharmonic Orchestra). The Alcan Highway and Gateway to the West were inspired by Canadian locations with classical music.  Farnon returned to Canada in 1961 (for the TV show 'Music Makers) and 1969 (for the TV special 'The Music of Robert Farnon,' which aired in 1970, 1975, and 1976), as well as for a concert with Vera Lynn at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto in 1969. Several Farnon works were performed in the composer's presence at a Toronto Symphony TS Christmas concert on December 20, 1984.

Farnon's Later Life 

Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Robert Farnon continued to write, record, and broadcast, such as on Telarc's Here's to Life (with Joe Williams) and How Beautiful Is Night (with George Shearing). Farnon conducted the London Philharmonic Orchestra on the recording of Hornblower Suite and la Claire Fontaine in 1992.  Farnon won a US Grammy in 1995 for the best instrumental arrangement for J.J. Johnson's Tangence, which he also conducted. In his later years, he returned to serious music, completing Symphony No. 3, The Edinburgh in 2004; the 2004 commission An American Wind Symphony: The Gaels; and the bassoon concerto Romancing the Phoenix in 2005.

Light music
Recognition and Awards 

The periodical Journal into Melody is published by the Robert Farnon Appreciation Society (later, the Robert Farnon Society), which was founded in England in 1956 to 'further the interests of all good light music in general, and the work of Robert Farnon in particular.'  Farnon was awarded the Order of Canada in 1997. Farnon received the 1991 Novello award for outstanding service to British music, in addition to three UK Novello awards for recordings. Film composers Quincy Jones and John Williams, composers André Previn and Henry Mancini, and jazz arranger Johnny Mandel have all been influenced by Farnon's work. Farnon was dubbed "the greatest arranger in the world" by Rob McConnell. Jeff Sultan of, a US arranger, launched a project to recreate the many lost Farnon scores. Marc Fortier (Montreal Pops Orchestra) had rewritten many of Farnon's scores for small orchestras by the early 2000s.
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