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In many ways Percy Faith may be the most influential orchestrator of his generation; music inspired by him is by far the most common in the fabric of everyday life, and in a sense, it serves the same utilitarian function that music did to pre-westernized Africa: it’s not separate, you hear it behind you in the real world, in stores, building, airports, any public place where music comes out of a speaker. Faith carried forth a great tradition of music that, at one time, seemed destined for extinction, and in rethinking it to fit the times — several times in fact (he even successfully applied it to the pop songs of the late ‘60s) — extended it far beyond even his own life. Along with Mitch Miller, that factotum/prophet responsible for so much of modern popular music, and Ray Conniff, Columbia’s other ace baton-wielder, Faith can be credited with inventing the entire “easy listening” category.

And yet, records were almost an afterthought in Faith’s career. Most of his energies went into conducting music on the radio (and later in films), and only when he prophesied the coming paucity of instrumental music on television did he begin to take the record business seriously. But very seriously! Not long after he and Tony Bennett both joined Columbia in 1950, Miller teamed them up, and the combination almost immediately began to move product in the big numbers (they were virtually the only singer-conductor pairing in the post-swing, pre-rock period to have no roots whatsoever in the big bands), and apart from all the careers he established as an accompanist, his own instrumentals landed the label nine major hit Lps and sold uncounted millions of units.

Percy Faith (1907-1974) was born in Toronto, Ontario, and from his earliest days was recognized as a musical prodigy. At 11, he began playing piano to accompany silent films for the worldly sum of three dollars a night plus carfare. Within four years, he was considered one of the star pupils at the Toronto Conservatory of Music, and made his concert debut at Toronto’s equivalent of Carnegie, Massey Hall, playing Liszt’s “Hungarian Fantasy.” By the time he was 18, the city’s prominent bandleaders regularly approached Faith for arrangements, and he had also become half of a radio music and comedy act with a comic named Hope (not Bob, although the act was billed as “Faith and Hope”).

Throughout the ‘30s, Faith conducted and orchestrated on Canada’s most popular “light music” programs, among them “Strings In Swingtime,” “Bands Across The Sea,” the very prestigious “Empire Broadcast” made to honor the King and Queen of England on the occasion of their visit to Canada, and his own show, “Music By Faith.” In all, he served as a staff conductor for the CBC for seven years, some of his broadcasts being heard in the states via the Mutual Network.

The American break came when “The Carnation Milk Contented Hour” gave him the chance to replace the recently deceased Josef Pasternak, who’d been the musical director of the program since its beginning in 1932. Faith and family emigrated to the program’s home base in Chicago, and he conducted the Carnation show for another seven years beginning on September 2, 1940. The show and the Faiths moved east to New York beginning with the January 7, 1946 broadcast, continuing to play what one reviewer described as “popular (orchestral) music with a smattering of semi-classical.” Faith’s second American program, “The Coca Cola Hour,” began in October, 1947, adding to his orchestra singer Ginny Simms; the guest stars were popular musical entertainers like Oklahoma lead Alfted Drake and classical mouth organist Larry Adler on the first broadcast.

His tremendous success in the record business inspired Faith and his 45-piece orchestra into other areas, most notably the movies: it was an obvious but effective idea that Faith’s highly commercial arrangements of the better and more successful movies themes would prove hits; and as you can see, nearly all of the 16 most requested tracks occupying this disc are cinematic in origin. (Jose Ferrer, the star of Moulin Rouge, gave his wife, Rosemary Clooney, a hot tip on its theme, “Where is Your Heart,” but she passed on it with the same marketplace misjudgment that almost made her miss out on “Come On-A My House”). Indeed, some of Faith’s interpretations have become more definitive than the originals, especially “A Summer Place,” and “Tara’s Theme” from Max Steiner’s Gone With The Wind.

More then re-orchestrating other composer’s scores, in terms of both putting movie compositions on record and, for the Doris Day-Jimmy Cagney masterpiece Love Me Or Leave Me, reworking classic pop record tunes for the movies, Faith got into the act himself. His theme for The Oscar (long-time Faith collaborator, Tony Bennett, made his feature film debut as an actor, and recorded his own vocal version of the Faith theme on The Movie Song Album, reissued recently on Columbia compact disc 9272, was in fact nominated for an Oscar, and not just due to the subliminal influence of its title.

The ties to movie and show music become very important when you consider the history of music on radio that Faith comes out of, as his friend, the veteran historian and musicologist Jim Maher, points out. Maher, who began listening to Faith during the ‘30s CBC broadcasts, explains that Faith’s great tradition — radio music — should be recognized as a distinct genre unto itself, which has close ties to the music developed in the early ‘20s to accompany silent films, and to arrange the songs and overtures of the “new” Broadway of Gershwin, Rodgers, and Kern. It began with network radio around 1927, out of the need for something grander than dance-band remotes, yet more intimate than anything the European “classical” tradition had to offer, and which could also accommodate musical comedy, ethnic and exotic elements, and, not least, jazz. It’s three most important exponents were Morton Gould, Andre Kostelanetz, and, says Maher, the greatest of all was Percy Faith. “Swedish Rhapsody (Midsummer Vigil),” Faith’s adaptation of a theme by H. Alfven featuring reed virtuoso Vincent James (Jimmy) Abato (otherwise best known for his duet with Sarah Vaughan on “Pinky”) resounds as a perfect example of Faith at his most successful.

Although he had helped network radio to contend with television for perhaps the last time on his show, “The Woolworth Hour,” broadcast by CBS on Sundays beginning in April ’55 (Bennett headlining on the first show with “Don’t Tell Me Why”), his albums form his greatest legacy. He made 45 of them before his death at age 67, in 1974.

As for the present collection of Faith’s best remembered works, the only way to treat it as Faith himself acted at a Duke Ellington session at which he served as nominal “A&R man.” “Duke was in charge as he was at all of his dates,” Maher remembers, “so there was nothing for Percy to do but send a kid out for a bottle, lean back and put his feet up on the board. He turned to me with a big smile on his face and he said, ‘I’m really going to enjoy this!’ ”

— Will Friedwald,
with special thanks to Jim Maher

The name of pianist and orchestra-leader Percy Faith is synonymous with quality instrumental music. Born in Canada in 1908, he turned to composing after a domestic accident left him unable to play the piano for five years - and, when his successful Music By Faith radio show crossed the border to the US in 1940, so did he. He initially worked with Columbia Records from 1950 as conductor and arranger for superstars like Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett and Johnny Mathis before recording in his own right.

Nominated for an Oscar in 1955 for scoring Love Me Or Leave Me, he registered two US chart-toppers in the pre-rock era with "Song for Moulin Rouge" and "Delicado," the latter revisited here, while "Theme From A Summer Place" repeated the feat in 1960.

Though Percy Faith died in 1976, his music and arrangements live on. These 1990s recordings, made at Capitol Records in Hollywood with Nick Perito conducting, embody the lightness of touch, the unique woodwind voicing and fondness for the Latin beat that were Faith trademarks.

“If Monaco had not existed it would have been necessary for someone to invent it, but it would be hard to re-invent the productions of nature or history or men. For in spite of the recurring convulsions of human societies, the Principality of Monaco, under the loveliest sky in the world, has known how to survive and prosper.”

These are the words of Georges Duhamel, member of the French Academy.

In November of 1962, an American television production company invaded this most lovely of little countries with not only the permission but the cooperation of its Prince and Princess.

The resulting CBS-TV color special, A Look at Monaco, produced by William Frye directed by Douglas Heyes, written by Cynthia Lindsay and photographed by Lionel Lindon, introduced for the first time, informally, Prince Rainier III, Princess Grace and their two children to the public. This full-hour show was telecast by network affiliates from 8 to 9 (EST), on Sunday evening, February 17, 1963.

Personally guided by the Prince and Princess, the public is taken through many of the private rooms in the Palace as well as the official State Chambers. Princess Grace, in in pointing out objects of interest within the confines of the Palace, is able to present, simultaneously, some of the highlights of Monaco’s long and dramatic history. She also takes the audience through the principality itself.

There are many informal as well as formal scenes with the children—with their parents, playing with their friends in the Palace garden and being presented to their subjects.

Prince Rainier’s family, the Grimaldis, have been Monaco’s ruling family since 1215. The Prince and Princess are keenly interested in, and participate in, civic and cultural affairs. Monaco has always been a haven of science and culture and, most particularly, music. The famous Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, the Orchestre National de L’Opera de Monte-Carlo and Prince Rainier’s Musical Awards are notable examples. The latter, the annual Prince Rainier III of Monaco International Music Composition Prizes, continue Monte Carlo’s tradition of encouraging and aiding new and young composers. This year in April, for the fourth consecutive year, a competition will be held, awarding some $9,000 to composers of unpublished works in the categories of opera, symphony and chamber music. In addition to the monetary prizes awarded, the winners are given the rare opportunity of seeing or hearing their works performed.

Percy Faith conducts the Orchestre National de L’Opera de Monte-Carlo in the original music he composed for the telecast. The orchestra, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary this year, has won high critical acclaim on its European tour and has been honored with several international prizes for its recordings of classical masterpieces. It has long received world-wide attention in connection with the Monte Carlo opera and ballet seasons and, more recently, with the popular Palace Courtyard summer concerts, organized under the patronage of Prince Rainier.

Numerous leading figures of the music world have made guest appearances with the orchestra, including many of the most celebrated virtuosos of piano, violin and cello. Among the pianists have been Artur Rubinstein, Paderewski, José Iturbi, Alfred Cortot and Artur Schnabel; violin soloists have been Zino Francescatti, Yehudi Menuhin, Jacques Thibault and Fritz Kreisler, and cellists Pablo Casals and Maurice Maréchal.

As background for A Look at Monaco, composer-conductor Percy Faith has captured and recorded Monaco’s music. Maestro Faith has composed an original “Monaco Theme” and a score which manages to encompass musically the sound of Monaco—the gentle clip-clop of the horses’ hooves, the whir of the roulette wheel in the Casino, the roar of the Grand Prix, the swish of the boats cutting through the water, the gaiety of the Monégasque folk songs and the rousing strains of the National Anthem. The recording was made in Monaco.

Few composers of popular music have possessed the charm, the almost Schubertian grace of Jerome Kern. Fro his first complete Broadway score, in 1911, until his last, that for the 1945 film Centennial Summer, his scores and popular songs glowed with a special loveliness that was his alone. A composer with a background of solid musical training, he was also influenced, according to Sigmund Spaeth, by the folksongs he learned from a Bohemian nurse, and indeed some of the most popular Kern melodies have as a basis a subdued or refined polka rhythm. In this enchanting program of Kern songs, Earl Wrightson, Lois Hunt and Percy Faith have chosen a dozen of his most beautiful ballads, most of them popular from the day they were first heard, and all of them unusually fine examples of Kern’s melodic gift, as well as the gifts of such brilliant lyricists as Oscar Hammerstein II, Ira Gershwin and Otto Harbach.

Mr. Wrightson opens the program with The Song Is You from “Music in the Air” (1932), and continues with They Didn’t Believe Me, one of Kern’s first real hits, from “The Girl from Utah” (1914). Miss Hunt then joins Mr. Wrightson in the splendid duet from “Show Boat,” Make Believe, a song as lovely today as it was in 1927. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, from “Roberta” (1933) provides Miss Hunt with an affecting solo, and Mr. Wrightson joins her in All the Things You Are from the 1939 production “Very Warm for May,” which was Kern’s last score for Broadway. “Sally” (1920) provides Mr. Wrightson with the concluding number of the first half, the lilting Look for the Silver Lining.

Mr. Wrightson opens the second part of the program with Long Ago and Far Away from the 1944 film “Cover Girl,” and continues with another movie song, Can I Forget You from “High, Wide and Handsome” (1937). Miss Hunt joins him for another brilliant duet from “Show Boat,” Why Do I Love You, and then she sings the haunting Yesterdays from “Roberta.” Together, Mr. Wrightson and Miss Hunt present yet another lovely song from “Roberta,” The Touch of Your Hand, and he concludes the program with that stirringly dramatic song from “Show Boat,” Old Man River.

This program is presented by the same artists who scored such outstanding success with a similar presentation, “A Night with Sigmund Romberg” (CL 1302, Stereo CS 8108). Mr. Wrightson, one of America’s most distinguished baritones, is widely known for his appearances on television and on radio, and for his many notable theatrical performances, including a long tour in “Kiss Me, Kate.” With Miss Hunt, he has appeared at the Hotel Pierre in New York in programs devoted to outstanding composers. Miss Hunt has appeared with the Metropolitan Opera Company with the New York Philharmonic and The Philadelphia Orchestra, and is also a favorite of radio, television and operetta audiences. Mr. Faith, who conducts this program, is famed for his sympathetic arrangements of music from the theatre, particularly his programs of Gershwin music (C2L 1) and Victor Herbert (C2L 10, Stereo C2S 801), and his recent orchestral setting of “Porgy and Bess” (CL 1298, Stereo CS 8105). Another of his new recordings, “Bouquet” (CL 1322, Stereo CS 8124) offers richly romantic setting of a dozen lovely melodies of recent years.

The romantic melodies of Sigmund Romberg go on and on—the newest of those selected for this enchanting program is nearly twenty-five years old—and the reasons are plainly displayed by Percy Faith, Earl Wrightson and Lois Hunt in this collection. Richly romantic, moving, for the most part, to a waltz rhythm, and, in the words of the Old Lady in Candide, easily assimilated, they possess a gentle nostalgia and warm lyricism that are as winning today as when operetta was at its height. Certainly no other composer in America brought the Viennese school of musical theatre to such success, and few others have approached Romberg’s fertility; in one three-year period, before he reached his peak, he composed music for no less than seventeen different productions.

The music presented here by Percy Faith and the soloists comes, with the exception of one film song, from operettas that streamed from his pen following the first World War, and presents glowing panorama of those sentimental productions, many of which are still revived. And even when the operetta itself has passed into the mists, the music remains, lovely as ever.

Percy Faith and Earl Wrightson open this night with Sigmund Romberg with “The Desert Song” from the 1926 production of the same name. A story of romance and intrigue in Morocco, The Desert Song was one of Romberg’s greatest successes, often revived and made into at least three motion picture versions (As a footnote, it is interesting that during its tryout tour the operetta was called My Fair Lady.) Mr. Wrightson continues with “Stout Hearted Men” from The New Moon set in the New Orleans of 1792. The operetta was one of the biggest hits of 1928, and has often been revived. Lois Hunt joins Mr. Wrightson and Percy Faith for the next selection, “Song of Love” from Blossom Time of 1921. This operetta was adapted from a German original, dealing in very careless fashion with the life of Franz Schubert; Sigmund Romberg constructed his score around Schubert melodies, and for “Song of Love” he took the main theme of the “Unfinished” Symphony.

Mr. Wrightson and Miss Hunt continue with another Romberg favorite, the “Serenade” from The Student Prince. Probably the most popular of all Romberg’s works, The Student Prince began its triumphant progress in 1924 and at one time was represented in America by nine different companies. Miss Hunt is heard next in another song from The New Moon, “Lover, Come Back to Me,” which was introduced by Evelyn Herbert, and Mr. Wrightson concludes the first part of the program with “Golden Days” from The Student Prince.

Two melodies from The Desert Song, which starred Vivienne Segal and Robert Halliday, are presented by Mr. Wrightson: the charming ballad “One Alone” and the stirring “Riff Song.” Miss Hunt then joins him for one of the most famous of Romberg duets, “Will You Remember” from Maytime. This operetta was Romberg’s first really major success, and served to establish him as an important composer. It opened in 1917, and starred Peggy Wood and Charles Purcell, who introduced the swirling waltz. Another famous duet is heard next: “Deep in My Heart, Dear” from The Student Prince. The title of the song was used for both Romberg’s biography and the movie version of his life. Miss Hunt then sings “One Kiss” from The New Moon, and the program concludes with “When I Grow Too Old to Dream,” sung by Mr. Wrightson. This typically flowing Romberg waltz comes from one of his film scores, that for The Night Is Young (1935) starring Ramon Navarro and Evelyn Laye.

The artists who present this program are particularly famous for their performances of music of the theatre. Mr. Faith, who arranged and conducted this recording, is represented on records by two volume collections of the music of George Gershwin (C2L 1) and Victor Herbert (C2L 10), and by orchestral settings of music from such outstanding musical productions as My Fair Lady (CL 895), South Pacific (CL 1105), Kismet (CL 895), The Most Happy Fella (CL 905) and Porgy and Bess (CL 1298), among others. In addition, he has recorded many other programs of exceptional range and appeal, and is equally well-known for his outstanding radio programs. Earl Wrightson, one of America’s most distinguished baritones, has appeared widely on radio and television, and is also known for his appearances in Kiss Me, Kate throughout the country. With Lois Hunt, he recently appeared at New York’s Hotel Pierre in a similar program of Romberg melodies. Miss Hunt has appeared with the Metropolitan Opera company, with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic, and on many radio programs. In addition, she has been seen in a wide variety of operettas in many cities.

PERCY FAITH (1908-1976)

Percy Faith, world famous composer, conductor and arranger, has been heard "on the air" around the world since the 1930s. With the help of his orchestra, Faith brought a unique sound and rich arrangements to well-known tunes, such as "Moon River," "Hello Dolly!" and "Some Enchanted Evening." Much of his success can be attributed to the use of his favorite section of the orchestra - the strings - that carried Faith's signature sound of strong harmonies and countermelodies into every tune he recorded. In total, Percy Faith recorded nearly 100 albums of popular music for orchestra (primarily during the 1950s and 60s), as well as various other side projects that involved working with a chorus or vocal group.

Faith’s early career was based around the radio, providing audiences with his rich orchestral sound, and recording just a few 78rpm “sides’ for commercial play. However, most of his recording career took place on the newly emerging and wildly popular LP (long playing record). His arrangements were considered by marketeers at the time to be “beautiful music,” but the music industry almost gave up on this style in the wake of the new school – rock’n’roll.

Despite this, many great musicians continued in this era – most notably Percy Faith, Nelson Riddle, Gordon Jenkins, Ray Conniff, and Henry Mancini. Their albums kept a standard of consistent high quality that has stood up well in the light of new technologies and techniques. That is one of the reasons for their enduring popularity and why they translate so well to the modern CD. Faith died in 1976 while still under contract to record, and leaving behind him a tremendous body of recorded work for all to enjoy.

Thomas Christenson, March 1999

Percy Faith's lush and lovely arrangement of the theme from 'A Summer Place' is here revived in glorious digital recording, making this best-known of all orchestral instrumentals even more memorable. Accompanying it on this collection are Faith's delicious arrangements of such other splendid melodies as "Laura," "Moon River," "The Shadow Of Your Smile" and many more.

Once more the gifted Percy Faith turns his attention to the music of other lands and other climates, in a series of dazzling arrangements as bright and refreshing as the sunny atmosphere they suggest. In many of his other Columbia collections, the arranger-conductor has presented melodies with a high romantic content, and this group is no exception, apart from the fact that their lively tempos and catchy tunes seem to conjure up the daylight hours rather than those of moonlight. Many of them are from Latin latitudes, and the Faith magic with such music is well known indeed.

Here, as a matter of fact, is a collection that is almost a musical travelogue. The first number, Tropical Merengue, might be from either Haiti or the Dominican Republic; Bluebell is almost inevitably Scotland, and Bubbling Over is of Swedish derivation. Then there are such other pleasurable moments as Italiano! and Bahama Lullaby, whose titles speak for themselves, and The Bandit, a dramatic theme from a South American motion picture. These, together with the other toe-tickling tunes in the collection, offer a splendid adventure in the sun, without the necessity for leaving home.

Percy Faith is famous for such musical tours as these; earlier Columbia albums such as “Continental Music” and “Passport to Romance” have drawn upon the beautiful songs of Europe and Latin America to become treasured components of any collection. And, of course, his orchestral settings of Broadway scores have helped to spread their songs even farther abroad. When Percy Faith left his native Canada to come to the United States, he already had great familiarity with fine popular music gained from his studies and from his active career in Canadian broadcasting. On his arrival he almost at once was appointed conductor of one of the longest-running musical programs in radio, The Contented Hour, and shortly thereafter began his distinguished recording career. In the beginning, he concentrated primarily on conducting and arranging music for vocalists, then branched out into purely instrumental work, and has since divided his time between the two. He has introduced, among other innovations, the “Magic Voices,” an unusual handling of choral effects, and has searched endlessly for the little-known and unusual instruments that often add color to his arrangements, beyond the scope of the ordinary orchestra.

In recent years, he has been the distinguished conductor of The Woolworth Hour.

In this adventure in the sun, Percy Faith’s imagination and inventiveness have been brought to play on a group of bright, lively songs, gay in concept and gay in execution. Although he is a master at evoking sentimental, starlit moods, he is also fascinated by the effects possible in light-hearted music as well, and the high spirits and bubbling humor of many of these songs is echoed in his arrangements. This is a collection of engaging music, calculated to bring a smile to the lips and a sparkle to the eyes, as only Percy Faith and his Orchestra can do. For armchair adventures, nothing could be better, and for those who prefer their traveling first hand, here is an admirable musical souvenir.

The music of America, like the nation itself, is exciting, plentiful, magnificent. Classical music, popular tunes and, of course, folk ballads constitute as rich a heritage as that of any country in the world. Percy Faith's AMERICAN SERENADE offers a choice collection of the many superb songs celebrating our natural wonders, our beautiful cities and states, the great rolling lands of our West.

In these selections Maestro Faith's touch is unmistakable: fascinating orchestrations, inspired performances. All in all, a delightful and irresistible AMERICAN SERENADE.

There is a decided tendency, in thinking of waltzes, to associate this lovely form exclusively with the Viennese. And while it is true that Vienna is the virtual birthplace of the waltz, it is unfair to neglect American contributions to the magic of three-quarter time. For this collection, Percy Faith has selected and arranged eight notable American waltzes, to demonstrate that the lilting beat, the inventive flow of melody and swirling atmosphere of the waltz are not Viennese alone.

Percy Faith’s recording work, both as an accompanist and as an artist in his own right, has made him one of this country’s most popular conductors, and his arrangements, rich without losing the essential character and content of the song, are among the most expressive and rewarding experiences in popular music.

For this collection of American waltzes, Percy Faith has chosen eight captivating songs by some of America’s finest composers. The Carousel waltzes, composed by Richard Rogers as an introduction to the successful musical play of the same name, open the group. Percy Faith continues with a beguilingly languorous setting of Irving Berlin’s The Girl That I Marry from “Annie Get Your Gun,” and a dark-hued version of Rudolf Friml’s Valse Huguette from “The Vagabond King.” I’ll Take Romance, by Ben Oakland, is drawn from the score of a film starring the late Grace Moore.

Percy Faith then conducts the capricious Waltz In Swingtime written by Jerome Kern for the film “Swing Time” starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Victor Herbert’s A Kiss In The Dark from “Orange Blossoms” is heard in a sumptuous Faith arrangement, with Alec Wilder’s While We’re Young following in a light-hearted setting evocative of the springtime freshness of the melody. The program concludes with a rollicking presentation of the wry When I’m Not Near The Girl I Love, composed by Burton Lane for “Finian’s Rainbow.”

These immensely attractive songs, in equally appealing arrangements, all possess a quality uniquely American. A forthright sentiment flows through them, but a sentiment that avoids sentimentality. Moreover, the three-quarter beat has a lift that derives from this country rather than from Vienna. These factors are emphasized in Percy Faith’s arrangements, which have been designed for listening rather than for dancing. Strictly speaking, all the composers are not American, for Rudolf Friml was born in Prague, and the unique Victor Herbert came here from Ireland. But all the waltzes in this happy collection were composed for Americans and in the American idiom, and, in consequence, present an array of delectable melodies in that most intoxicating of rhythms, the waltz.