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Robert Joseph Farnon (July 24, 1917 April 23, 2005) was a Canadianmarker-born composer, conductor, musical arranger and trumpet player.


Born in Torontomarker, Ontariomarker, he was commissioned as a captain in the Canadian Army and became the conductor/arranger of the Canadian Band of the allied expeditionary force sent overseas during World War II, which was the Canadian equivalent of the American Band of the AEF led by Major Glenn Miller.

At the end of the war, Farnon decided to make Englandmarker his home, and he later moved to Guernseymarker in the Channel Islands with his wife and children.

He was considered by his peers the finest arranger in the world, and his talents influenced many composer-arrangers including Quincy Jones, all of whom acknowledge his contributions to their work. Conductor André Previn called him "the greatest writer for strings in the world."

Robert Farnon died at the age of eighty-seven at a hospice near his home of forty years in Guernsey. He was survived by his wife Patricia and their five children.


Robert Farnon is probably best known for two famous pieces of light music, Jumping Bean and Portrait of a Flirt, which were originally released as the A and B sides on the same 78. Also famous are his Westminster Waltz and A Star is Born.

Farnon also wrote the music for more than forty motion pictures including Maytime in Mayfair (1949) and Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N. (1951) and for a number of television series and miniseries including The Prisoner, Secret Army, Colditz, and A Man Called Intrepid.

In 1962 Farnon arranged and conducted Frank Sinatra's only album recorded outside of the United States, Sinatra Sings Great Songs from Great Britain.

He won four Ivor Novello Awards including one for "Outstanding Services to British Music" in 1991 and in 1996 he won the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement for "Lament" performed by J. J. Johnson & his Robert Farnon Orchestra.

The last piece he composed was titled The Gaels: An American Wind Symphony, as a commission to the Roxbury High Schoolmarker band in honor of the school's mascot, the gael. The piece made its world debut in May 2006. It was performed by the Roxbury High School Honors Wind Symphony under the direction of Dr. Stanley Saunders, a close friend of Farnon.

Farnon was first married to Joanne Dallas the talented singer from the AEF band which performed in London during the war years. Jazz trumpet was Robert Farnon's first love. His long time friend Dizzy Gillespie once stated that he was pleased that Farnon took up composing, arranging and conducting as Robert was the better jazz trumpeter.

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