Robert Joseph Farnon (July 24, 1917 - April 23, 2005)
born in Toronto, Canada -- one of three brothers who all went
into music; (Younger brother Dennis went on to write music for the
Mister Magoo cartoon series, and older brother Brian Farnon worked
with the comedy orchestra of Spike Jones. Only sister Norah did
not go on into a musical career.)
In Toronto Robert learned choral arranging, and played lead
trumpet in Percy Faith's Canadian Orchestra in his late teens; he
was a member of a long-running Canadian radio show "The Happy Gang",
made frequent trips to New York where he played with musicians such
as Dizzy Gillespie and Oscar Peterson. After Percy Faith left for
the United States, Robert Farnon replaced him as conductor of the
CBC orchestra at age 23, but then answered the call to military
service during World War II.
In 1944 for his military service, Farnon conducted the Canadian Band of
the Allied Expeditionary Forces. After, he remained in England where
he was to reside the rest of his life. He was a major contributor to
the Chappell Recorded Music Library, based in London. This library, a
part of the Chappell Publishing Company, was used by many early
television networks and stations both in the US and in Europe. He has
influenced, and has been admired by, many musicians and composers
worldwide, as the "dean of Light Music composers". Frank Sinatra
called Farnon "the guv'nor" in appreciation for his orchestration
Robert Farnon was fortunate to have received recognition not only for
his radio and TV theme music by a curious public, but was also able
to enjoy commercial successes as an orchestra leader on British Radio
and Television during the 1940s--1950s. His early LP albums of mood
music arrangements, as well as those for such solo artists including
George Shearing and others, have become collectors items. He also has
scored 40 films, including Captian Horatio Hornblower, of which a
CD release was made. But it is his original "mood music" compositions
which remain memorable examples of this genre of light music, as will
be noted below.
In England in 1995, a resurgence of interest began in Light Music.
EMI (a British label) has released a series of Light Music CDs
commercially. Marco Polo, Reference Recordings, and other labels are
also active in releasing commercial recordings of Robert Farnon and
other British composers of Light Music.
Throughout the late 1990's, Mr. Farnon continued to compose and
arrange for various artists, and supervised the selection of his
music for CDs. His last works included a concerto for amplified
bassoon, and a third symphony dedicated to the city of Edinburgh.
Robert Farnon passed away at his home in St. Martin's in
Guernsey, England in April, 2005 at the age of 86 leaving behind
an incredible legacy of work.
Recommended compositions of Robert Farnon:
- Journey Into Melody (1947)
- Jumping Bean (1948)
- All Sports March [aka: Allsports March] (1948)
- Portrait of a Flirt (1949)
- Gateway To The West (1949)
- A Star Is Born (1949)
- A Promise of Spring (1954)
- Sounds of History (1969)
Currently the Robert Farnon Appreciation Society in England
(founded in 1956) is one of the best Light Music societies in the
world. It has been able to secure many CD reissues of Light Music
from production music libraries which are made available to members,
and it publishes a periodical journal called "Journal Into Melody".
For membership information and a preview copy of the "Journal Into
Melody" see the Robert Farnon
Society Web Site.
Leroy Anderson (June 29, 1908 -- May 18, 1975)
born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, of Swedish immigrant parents. In
his early teens he studied piano and music theory at the New England
Conservatory of Music. He entered Harvard College in 1925 and played
trombone in the Harvard Band. During his studies including Harvard
graduate school, he studied composition with Walter Piston and
For a time he wasn't sure whether he would teach languages or become
a musician. After receiving his Masters Degree in Music from Harvard,
he even took more graduate courses in languages at Radcliffe College.
But when his arrangements for the Harvard College Band attracted the
attention of the Boston Pops orchestra, he made his career choice and
moved to New York City in 1936.
His arrangements and compositions for the Boston Pops Orchestra were
conducted by Arthur Fielder, but sometimes Leroy Anderson was often a
guest conductor of his own pieces at many pops concerts throughout
the U.S. and Canada.
As his work became more popular with radio listeners in the 1940s, he
developed his own orchestra for recording purposes, and created hits
in the US during the heydey of Light Music. His instrumental hit
"Blue Tango" combined latin rhythms with American jazz melodic
idioms, and was a smash hit in 1951. Several other orchestra leaders
from Hugo Winterhalter to Guy Lombardo made cover versions of this
Recommended compositions of Leroy Anderson:
The family of Leroy Anderson has a Web Site providing more
information about his life and music...
- Fiddle Faddle (1/1/47)
- Sleigh Ride (2/10/48)
- The Typewriter (10/9/50)
- The Penny-Whistle Song (6/3/51)
- Horse and Buggy (6/11/51)
- Plink, Plank, Plunk! (6/12/51)
David D. Rose (June 15, 1910 -- August 23, 1990)
an Englishman by birth, he immigrated to the US when he was 4
years old. He attended the Chicago College of Music, graduating at
age 16, and was a member of Ted Fio Rito's big band in the 1930s.
Soon he became active in network radio music at NBC and Mutual, where
he had his own orchestra program called "California Melodies".
He was married several times, including a brief marraige to Martha
Raye in 1938, and to Judy Garland from 1941-45. He also became music
director of MGM studios in 1941.
In 1943, while he was in military service during World War II, he had
a major #2 hit -- an instrumental featuring pizzicato strings, which
had been composed in 1942. It was "Holiday For Strings" a classical
of Light Orchestral writing, which stayed on the hit parade charts
for 21 weeks, and became Red Skelton's signature tune and theme on
radio and TV.
As with Percy Faith, the David Rose Orchestra found some success in
the record business recording tunes by other composers arranged
distinctively by Rose. In 1944, he recorded a Nat Simon tune called
"Poinciana (Song of the Tree)", which Bing Crosby had made into a
vocal hit. Rose's recording also achieved some notice for 6 weeks on
the hit parade--reaching #11.
In 1957, his orchestra enjoyed some minor success with a rather
simple tune by Larry Clinton called "Calypso Melody", capitalizing on
the Jamaican Calypso music fad of the times. Rose's orchestra
followed this in 1958 with an arrangement of Moe Koffman's "Swingin'
Shepherd Blues" with a jazzy flute melody, and in 1959 with an
arrangement of "Like Young" featuring its composer, Andre Previn, at
the piano. Rose's distinctive polychordal background string
arrangement of "Like Young" is a technique also used by
composer/arranger Nelson Riddle in his "Sea of Dreams" album, and in
ballad background arrangements for Frank Sinatra at about the same
Rose recorded many instrumental albums for the MGM label, which are
now collectors items. He is not only remembered for over 50
commercial LPs but for his many American TV themes. These included
themes for The Red Skelton Show, Mr. Adams and Eve, Men Into Space,
Bold Venture, The Jim Backus Show/Hot Off The Wire, Hallmark Cards
Specials, High Chapparal, Bracken's World, Little House on the
Prarie, West Point, Bat Masterson, Case of the Dangerous Robin,
Dundee and the Culhane, and The Monroes.
Radio show themes composed by Rose in the 1940s and 1950s included
"Hallmark Theme" for the radio series "Hallmark Playhouse", "Bold
Venture" for the radio and TV series of the same name, and of course
his popular "Holiday For Strings" used on Red Skelton radio and TV
shows for years.
It is suggested in the book "TV's Greatest Hits" by John Burlingame,
that Ray Llewellyn was a pseudonym used by Rose [among other
composers] for scoring TV shows when working outside union
jurisdiction, especially for low-budget series produced at
"Ray Llewellyn's" credits include Hiway Patrol, Martin Kane--Private
Eye, Sea Hunt, Dr. Christian, Meet Corliss Archer, I Led Three Lives,
King of Diamonds, and Science Fiction Theatre (from the World
Broadcasting System library.)
Some researchers including producer and library music expert Paul
Mandell, believe that David Rose was only one of several composers
who wrote these themes for ZIV, and for the World Broadcasting System
library which Frederic Ziv purchased from Decca. Other composers who
wrote for ZIV during this period included Lyn Murray, Victor Young,
Peter Yorke, Ray Bloch and Dmitri Tiompkin. As to which composer
actually wrote which themes, one can only speculate...but the two
Main Title/End Credit themes for "Hiway Patrol" bear more than a
passing similarity to the "Men Into Space" march theme which was
written by Rose.
According to MGM LP liner notes during the year 1962, a total of 22
American TV shows had themes by that point which were composed by
David Rose. Particularly notable were the cues he composed for the
Skelton show over the years, which underscored characters "Clem
Kadiddlehopper", "The Lovable Clown".
Rose also composed cues for the Western TV series "Bonanza." One
was a short Signature/Logo called "The Peacock", which was used
behind a spreading peacock animation when NBC color TV first went on
the air in 1961 to open "Bonanza" (the first regular TV series filmed
in color.) Another memorable cue Rose composed was a "Chapter Title"
that opened nearly every episode of "Bonanza", after the opening
commercial. This cue was based upon a melody he wrote called "The
Ponderosa" -- the name of the big-sky ranch where the Cartwright
Much to his chagrin, one novelty piece composed in 1958 for a TV show
called "Burlesque" became his biggest hit. It was called "The
Stripper", and it topped the pop charts in 1962 when a Disc Jockey
discovered it and started playing it frequently. Unfortunately
repackagers of music will often use this gaudy piece of fluff as an
example of his work whenever his music is released, simply because of
its chart success. But he has a much larger body of craftsmanlike
Light Instrumental Music which has unfortunately receded in public
He was known as an enthusiast of railroad trains. He actually built a
small-guage railroad on which his friends and their children could
ride, on his property in Encino, California. David Rose succumbed to
heart disease at the age of 80.
Recommended compositions of David Rose:
- Four-Twenty, A.M. (1942)
[two sets of vocal lyrics for Four-Twenty, A.M.
were written, but the instrumental is best]
- Holiday For Strings (used as Red Skelton's theme on radio and
- One Love (1946)
- Gay Spirits (1946)
- Paris Oui! Oui! (1951)
- Waltz Of The Bubbles (1954)
- Holiday For Trombones (1956)
- Mr. Adams and Eve TV Theme (1957)
- Men Into Space (march Theme for TV series) (1959)
- The Christmas Tree (from the Red Skelton TV series)
- Concerto [aka: Hollywood Concerto] (1961)
- The Peacock [aka: Color Logo Signature]
(NBC Living Color Peacock billboard used on the "Bonanza" TV
- Ponderosa Chapter Title [for the Bonanza TV series]
- The Sad Rockin' Horse (skit theme from the Red Skelton TV
- Stereophonic March (1961)
- Busy Afternoon (1969)
- The World News March (not sure if this was for a network news
show, or was a cut in the World Broadcasting System production
Other recommended arrangements recorded by David Rose and his
- Fiddlin' For Fun (1952) composed by the French brothers
Faustin Jeanjean & Maurice Jeanjean.
[French Title:] Les Violins s'Amusent.
Henry Mancini (April 16, 1924 -- June 14, 1994)
born in Cleveland, Ohio as "Enrico Nicola Mancini", the man who
was known later as "Hank" Mancini to his Hollywood colleagues, grew up in
Alquippa, Pennsylvania. Although his was not a musical family, Henry
showed early interest and aptitude for the piano. At the age of 16
he was invited to join the "Hal Curtis Orchestra" -- described
as "a territory band" that played jobs in the Midwest. Through the
encouragement and connections of a local teacher, he was able to
attend the Julliard School of Music in New York.
His studies were interrupted by being drafted into military service
from 1943-45. After release from military service, he joined the
Glenn Miller-Tex Beneke band as arranger-pianist. He continued
private studies with various classical composition teachers. He
married Ginny O'Connor, a vocalist with the Mel Tones (Mel Torme's
He and his wife moved to Hollywood in 1947, where he found
encouragement from people such as composer David Rose, and was able
to get arranging work. In 1952, he joined the music department of
Universal-International Studios, where he contributed to more than
100 films, in the "factory system" they had for supplying film
scores. He received an Academy Award nomination for one of these--The
Glenn Miller Story. He also wrote the score to Orson Welles' "Touch
After leaving Universal-International in 1958, he found an assignment
by chance, running into an acquaintance on his way to a studio barber
shop. That acquaintance was Blake Edwards, who was producing the TV
series "Peter Gunn" (1959). Mancini added a sophisticated low-key
jazz touch which revolutionized TV scoring in the US, and produced
the first hit TV soundtrack album--Peter Gunn.
During this busy time in his career, he took time to write a classic
orchestration textbook called "Sounds and Scores" which had a set of
companion discs with generous examples from his TV and record
arrangements. Many pop arrangers have credited this book with helping
them understand the relationship between the sounds of orchestral
voicings heard on TV (or on disc) and the printed score.
His association with Blake Edwards continued for many years, scoring
such TV series as "Mr. Lucky", and films such as "Breakfast at
Tiffany's", "The Days of Wine and Roses", "The Pink Panther",
"Hatari!" and "Charade". His song "Moon River", with lyrics by Johnny
Mercer won an Academy Award in 1962, the same year "Breakfast at
Tiffany's" won a second Oscar for Best Score for a Motion Picture.
The "Pink Panther" film theme was also recycled for a 1969 Saturday
morning TV cartoon series theme.
The decade of 1957 - 1967 was perhaps Mancini's "golden period", when
he composed many of his greatest, most memorable tunes, which have
become Light Jazz/Easy Listening favorites. Over the years since
leaving Universal-International, Henry Mancini scored over 40 more
films and quite a few TV shows. He found a comfortable home for his
family in Holmby Hills, CA during this time. He also found that he
enjoyed conducting Pops Orchestra Concerts, and in his later years,
conducted many Pops Concerts throughout the US.
After the success of his early TV scores for the Blake Edwards series
"Peter Gunn" and "Mr. Lucky" in the late 1950's / early 1960's,
Mancini's image of providing classy jazz and easy listening melodies
for theme tunes was well established for television crime dramas.
Fortunately Mancini did not get typecast as just a crime drama composer
for television to the extent that other contemporaries may have been
such as Mike Post and Pete Carpenter.
Perhaps this was due to Mancini's success in scoring motion pictures
during this period of time. In between all the movies he scored, he was
commissioned to write themes for a wide variety of TV series formats
over nearly four decades -- including the nighttime game show version of
"Play Your Hunch" (1960), the adventure series "Man of the World"
(1962), the dramatic anthology series "The Richard Boone Show" (1963),
the "Pink Panther" Saturday morning cartoon anthology series (1969), a
children's series from animator Chuck Jones "The Curiosity Shop" (1971),
an umbrella series theme for "NBC Mystery Movie of the Week" (1971),
the rotating Glenn Ford adventure series "Cade's County" (1971), even
a musical variety series "The Mancini Generation" (1972), the TV
police drama "The Blue Knight" (1975), the trendy sitcom based upon the
film "Cooley High" was the series "What's Happening?" (1976), a series
with Raymond Burr as a crusading journalist called "Kingston: Confidential"
(1977), the sitcom "Sanford Arms" (1977), the theme of NBC's network
news coverage with John Chancellor "NBC Nightly News" (1978), the sitcom
"Newhart" (1982), the documentary series "Ripley's Believe It Or Not"
(1982), the detective series "Remington Steele" (1982), the James Brolin
dramatic anthology series based upon Arthur Hailey's novel "Hotel" (1983),
and theme for the syndicated game show "The New Tic Tac Dough" (1990.)
On the 2002 TV documentary series "Music: Behind The Scenes", film
composer George S. Clinton paid tribute to Mancini. Perhaps he summed
up Mancini's appeal best by saying "He had a true gift for writing melody;
There are many people who can write music. But Mancini had the gift of
Mancini was considered a real gentleman, popular with his colleagues.
On the same TV documentary, legendary film composer Elmer Bernstein
called Mancini "cool", and said, "He was probably my best friend in
the business." Mancini was a wine connoiseur and an avid art collector
right up until his death at age 70 from cancer of the liver, in 1994.
Recommended compositions of Henry Mancini:
- Too Little Time (aka: Love Theme from "The Glenn Miller
Story") (1953) (words by Don Raye)
- Joanna (from the "Peter Gunn" TV series) (1959)
- One-Eyed Cat (from the "Mr. Lucky" TV series) (1959)
- March of the Cue Balls (from "Mr. Lucky" TV series)
- Timpañola (from the "Mr. Lucky" TV series) (1959)
(vocal title: I Love You and Don't You Forget
- Mr. Lucky (theme of "Mr. Lucky" TV series) (1959)
- Latin Golightly (from the film "Breakfast at Tiffany's")
- Holly (a dreamy nighttime ballad from the film "Breakfast at
- How Soon (theme of "The Richard Boone Show" TV series) (
Other recommended arrangements recorded by Henry Mancini and his
- Tender Is The Night, music by Sammy Fain (from the film
"Tender Is The Night") (1962 )
- Softly As I Leave You, music by Alfredo DeVita (1962)
Nelson Riddle (June 1, 1921 -- Oct 6, 1985)
was born Nelson Smock Riddle in Hackensack, New Jersey, the son
an Alsatian/Spanish mother and an English/Irish/Dutch father who
was a a commercial artist by trade, but enjoyed playing trombone
in his spare time.
Originally young Nelson took up the piano, but switched to his
father's instrument of trombone when he was 14.
During his senior year in High School (1939) he played trombone in
the New Jersey State Orchestra and several "kid bands" in the summer
vacation area of Rumdel, New Jersey that played in the big band style.
During a summer stay in Rumdel, he met another Rumdel resident named
Bill Finegan who would later become a well-known arranger himself.
Finegan taught Riddle the rudiments of arranging for a dance
orchestra and other techniques. Then Finegan was hired as an arranger
by the Glenn Miller Orchestra.
After a brief stint in the army he returned to New York City. In the
1940s, Nelson played trombone and began writing arrangements for
several Big Bands in which he played including Alvino Rey, Charlie
Spivak and Tommy Dorsey. He credits Tommy Dorsey's staff of fine
arrangers as helping him learn even more of his craft.
In 1946 he got the opportunity to relocate to Los Angeles via a job
arranging for The Bob Crosby band. Being in Los Angeles also gave him
the chance to improve his skills by studying classical orchestration
with Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco and studying conducting with Victor
Bay. He discovered he was a better arranger than trombone player, and
was soon working as a staff arranger/composer at NBC in
While working at NBC, mostly scoring radio dramas, he soon got an
opportunity via his friend Les Baxter, to arrange backgrounds for Nat
"King" Cole at Capitol Records, which led to a long and fruitful
collaboration. (Their first hit together was "Mona Lisa" in 1950,
conducted by Les Baxter.) His second hit for Nat Cole was "Too Young"
He found another vocal client who joined the Capitol roster in
1953--Frank Sinatra. The collaboration started out when Nelson
"subbed" (substituted) for arranger Billy May. In fact Sinatra was
told that Riddle was "just conducting Billy May's arrangements", but
Sinatra soon discovered the truth, and warmed up to the Riddle style.
The partnership became legendary.
Although Riddle had been known for his work in the swinging jazz band
idiom, he also did many tasteful ballad arrangements utilizing
strings, providing a uniquely American voice to the more jazzy side
of Light Music.
In addition to arranging pop songs for the Capitol Records roster and
a few instrumental albums under his own name, he demonstrated his
versatility by composing dozens of television episode scores,
composing over 30 feature film score including an Oscar-winning one
for "The Great Gatsby", plus a little-known aspect of his career:
arranging and orchestrating some of Hollywood's greatest film
musicals -- including "Carousel", "Pajama Game", "Guys and Dolls",
"Pal Joey", "Can Can", "How To Succeed In Business Without Really
Trying" and "On A Clear Day You Can See Forever".
Much of Nelson Riddle's skill and unique talent can be heard in his
arranging of a melody whether his own or a tune by another composer.
His arrangements began in a similar style to his friend Les Baxter
(as his 1956 hit arrangement of "Lisbon Antigua" demonstrates), but
eventually his instrumental recordings evolved into a more original
style, often featuring a bass guitar or bass trombone playing melody.
He scored TV series with memorable Main Title/End Credits THEMEs
including "Route 66", "The Untouchables", and "Naked City".
For his swinging background arrangements for Sinatra and other
Capitol artists, Riddle used a technique of using a simple catchy
rhythmic motif for counter- melodies. He also worked these motifs
into the introduction and coda to the song to unify the arrangement.
Initially, this may have been a way of fooling the "powers that be"
that Billy May had done these arrangements. But in synthesizing this
idea with his own style, he created a more contemporary "new sound"
for Sinatra, which helped keep his career evolving, following
Sinatra's Big Band and radio crooner days with arranger Axel
Riddle also shared a technique used by David Rose and others of using
polyharmonies in the background arrangements--that is, a fusion of two
chordal ideas simultaneously which seems to merge naturally as an
extension of one of them. All of these techniques -- the
countermelodies, the unifying rhythmic motifs, and the judicious use
of interesting harmonies -- could just be formulaic in the hands of
lesser talents. What Nelson Riddle had was the good taste to know
when and how to utilize them in the most effective way.
Recommended compositions of Nelson Riddle:
- Orange from "Tone Poems of Color" (1956 album conducted by
an unusual concept album, the first album recorded at the Capitol
building in Hollywood, and yes, Sinatra actually conducted the
- Sea of Dreams (1958)
- Theme from "Route 66" (from the TV series) (1962)
- Freeway Fantasy (1970) from "Nelson Riddle with the 101 Strings"
frequently used as a bumper on "NBC Monitor" weekend radio
Other recommended arrangements recorded by Nelson Riddle:
- I've Got You Under My Skin, by Cole Porter (a classic vocal
background for Frank Sinatra album "Songs for Swingin' Lovers")
- Witchcraft, by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh (vocal background
for Frank Sinatra) (1957 )
- Somewhere in the Night, by Billy May (Theme from the "Naked
City" TV series) (1962)