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In 1951, soon after Percy Faith came to Columbia Records as its musical director, a position somewhere between Mitch Miller, who was the A&R man, and along list of singers in search of hits, Percy found a song for himself. As a Columbia artist also searching for his first hit, he had a right to keep it for himself. As Mitch’s musical director and hit-song hunter for the rest of the roster, he had an obligation to give it away. But the music was Brazilian, there was no lyric, and there was already a recording available by the composer, Azevedo. Percy showed the music to Mitch, but he kept it, wrote an arrangement which would feature a guitar with his concert orchestra, and took a taxi to Columbia’s 30th Street studio, an ancient church whose shell offered the best recording sound in New York City.

In a dark corner of the old church before the start of the session Mitch and Percy discovered a harpsichord, closed and locked, ready to be trucked away behind the lady who had just completed her Bach album. Without a qualm worth remembering, Mitch and Percy picked the lock on the instrument, pushed it under a microphone, and featured it, instead of the guitar, on Delicado. Percy had his first hit, Mitch a new sound, and somewhere a lady harpsichordist never knew the difference.

Percy FaithBut there is more to a hit than three minutes of accidental gold. Like all success stories, it begins somewhere else, and, usually, it leads to something even better. That Percy should have chosen an unknown Brazilian melody in the first place seemed surprising for a Toronto-born musician trained as a serious pianist. Yet, as far back as Percy can remember, he has been excited by the rhythms, the pounding and scratching of the music of Latin America. Snowbound in Canada, he wrote tropical arrangements long before he ever ventured south of Chicago. Delicado for Percy Faith was a natural choice. Its successors were to become a major part of his international reputation.

A few years after Delicado, when Percy Faith was established as a major artist on singles and albums, he returned to the music of Latin America to record a gold album of the music of Mexico. Called Viva!, and filled with songs among the most beautiful in the world, it also included the Mexican Hat Dance popping with whipcracks. And, now identified with Latin American music, he continued with another successful album, this time the compositions of Lecuona, the Cuban writer of Malagueña. One important facet of a brilliant career had been revealed when the lock on a harpsichord was picked.

A new direction for Percy Faith was forecast soon after the success of Delicado when six feet of manuscript paper reached him from Paris. The motion picture “Moulin Rouge” had opened abroad with a theme some 80 measures long by the French composer Georges Auric. The music went the rounds of New York publishers and record companies, all of whom rejected it as being too long. Finally, and with tacit approval to make a few changes, Percy picked out 32 measures and wrote the arrangement of what was to be called The Song from “Moulin Rouge.” It was Percy’s first million-selling single and clearly an invitation to search the scores of other motion pictures for themes suitable to his 45-man orchestra, a group of musicians which has always included veterans of big bands, jazz stars, and a sprinkling of concert masters—a virtuoso orchestra.

Percy continued to record motion-picture themes with consistent success for the next two decades, choosing such compatible examples as Tara’s Theme from “Gone With The Wind,” and winning a Grammy award for his recording of Theme from “Romeo and Juliet.” The story of his greatest hit of all, Theme from “A Summer Place,” includes the usual twists of fortune which seem to accompany unique moments. In the late Fifties he was offered a contract to record for the then-new Warner Brothers Records. The proposal was made more tempting by an offer to score several Warner Brothers pictures. After careful consideration, Percy decided to turn it down in favor of remaining with Columbia where he was by then a major artist certain of a long and profitable career. Among the list of forthcoming Warner pictures he would have scored if he had accepted the offer was “A Summer Place,” and soon afterward the theme for this picture, written by Max Steiner, was brought to Percy.

He liked the melody but was surprised by the triplets, a device then popular but certainly not expected from the venerable Hollywood composer. So Percy called Max to verify these clusters of eight-notes covering the score. “Oh,” said Steiner, “they sent me a young man who told me triplets were hot. But what the hell,” he added with a telephonic shrug, “they were good enough for Mozart.” So the triplets remained in the Faith arrangement of Steiner’s theme, and the single record began to sell. During the winter of 1960 Theme from “A Summer Place” gathered momentum until it became a worldwide hit, was chosen Record of The Year by the music trade magazines Billboard and Cash Box, awarded a Grammy, and, of course, became another gold record for Percy Faith. “If I had accepted the Warner Brothers offer,” Percy muses, “I would have written the theme. Then what?”

The thin line which separates the creative arranger from the composer in a musician like Percy Faith is often crossed and, usually, the listener is unaware of the crossing. A Faith arrangement is a composition in all but melody, and often that too, and this imprint of his own on every performance accounts for the immediate identification his music enjoys. Percy has been crossing the composer line for a quarter century, sometimes intentionally, sometimes in spite of himself. An early example, which would have earned a gold record award had it not been the back side of another gold record, The Song from “Moulin Rouge,” is Swedish Rhapsody. Accompanying a 30-minute television show in the early Fifties was a lengthy composition by the Swedish composer Hugo Alfven consisting of Swedish folk themes woven into a concert piece. When the music attracted listener attention, Percy sent for it, discovered the themes it contained, and adapted them to a shorter piece, for which he was given composition credit with Alfven. His recording of Swedish Rhapsody, which by now has become more popular than its companion song, completed the success.

Percy has continued to compose. In the gold-award album Bouquet, which featured for the first time his string orchestra, the title song is his. Another album which won the coveted gold award, Themes for Young Lovers, was a successful single of a Faith composition called, of course, Theme for Young Lovers. His theme for “The Virginian” has been played so often in so many parts of the world that he could, if he would, write music for horses, too.

One of the prime sources of American popular music during the past half century has been the Broadway musical theatre. Record stars have been feasting on its songs ever since Jolson recording Swanee, and there were never more songs to choose from than in the early Fifties when Percy was fashioning his own career. But until he returned to the 30th Street studio to record the score from “Kismet,” there were no successful instrumental albums of such scores. It was believed, logically, that listeners wanted lyrics with their show music but, perhaps, the Borodin music was so good, or, perhaps, Percy’s arrangements were lyrical enough. At any rate, his album of the music, including Baubles, Bangles And Beads, was a success too big to have been accidental, and s it led to yet another fertile field for Faith.

Percy followed the score from “Kismet” with an even more successful album of the music from “My Fair Lady,” from which Show Me is taken for this collection, as well as beautiful albums of Rodgers and Hammerstein music from “South Pacific” and “The Sound of Music.” And if it is true that a familiar song is often more appealing when its lyrics are played rather than sung, when a more universal language is used, then Percy Faith’s catalog of musical theatre will endure.

As the Fifties turned into the Sixties, music turned also, and the songs of a new generation were often beautiful and meaningful. Equally important for a man with a large orchestra, many of these songs could be played by strings. By the mid-Sixties Percy was playing the new music, adding still another dimension to his imposing talent and another audience for his records. After his Themes for Young Lovers won its gold award, (I Will Follow You in this collection also comes from that album), he adapted Jim Webb’s MacArthur Park for his orchestra. Then, because poetry had entered music of the decade, Percy added a girls’ chorus to his orchestra. Yellow Days, Angel of The Morning, and Windy, for the latter two of which he won Grammy nominations, feature the Faith chorus and orchestra.

This attractive collection of Percy Faith hits is more than a score of records. It is the essence of nearly a quarter century of an illustrious career. It is the recollection of a hundred albums and a half dozen important directions his music has taken since Delicado. And, in retrospect, it is the explanation of his place in our music. His talents are all here: the inseparable talents of composing and arranging, the stylish sweep of his strings, the impeccable selection of repertoire. Few artists have equaled his popularity on records. Fewer still continue to surprise.

—Irving Townsend

Percy Faith is one of America’s popular and distinguished musicians. His newest hit, The Theme from “A Summer Place,” has already sold well over a million records, joining Delicado and The Song from Moulin Rouge in that select circle. He is known as a composer—it was he who adapted The Song from Moulin Rouge from the original score, and provided Guy Mitchell with My Heart Cries for You—and arranger and conductor of singular talents. His collections range from sparkling Latin American concoctions through sumptuous mood music to immensely popular instrumental settings of scores from Broadway shows.

Percy Faith was born in Toronto, Canada, on April 7, 1908. He began his studies early, and applied himself so assiduously that by the time he was eleven, he was earning three dollars a night—plus carfare—as a pianist for silent movies in a Toronto theater. At fifteen, he made his concert debut in Massey Hall, and thereafter continued his piano work, along with a new-found interest arranging for orchestras. In 1933, Percy was appointed staff conductor for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, remaining until 1940, when he moved to the United States to become conductor of “The Contented Hour.” That same year, he became a citizen. His career moved forward steadily, and in 1947 he became conductor of “The Pause That Refreshes on the Air.” Other radio programs, and guest appearances with such fine orchestras as the NBC Symphony further enhanced his reputation, and in 1950 he joined Columbia Records.

On October 26, 1933, contracts were signed by George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, Du Bose Heyward and The Theatre Guild for the composition and production of a new American opera, Porgy and Bess. Although hopes must clearly have been high, none of the participants can have had any idea of the eventual significance of the work, nor of the unending beauty of its music. The manuscript was marked finished on August 23, 1935, and the first public performance was heard at the Colonial Theatre in Boston on September 30. New York heard Porgy and Bess on October 10, and received it with a mixture of enthusiasm and dismissal; everyone liked the tunes, but critics felt it was not a true opera and audiences—at least Broadway audiences—tended to shun anything even approaching opera. So shortly thereafter, having run up 124 performances, Porgy and Bess was retired from the stage, leaving only its superb songs as a legacy.

In 1942 the work was revived to considerably more acclaim—both critics and audiences came around, this time, and a long run and extensive tour resulted. The music grew and grew in popularity, both as individual numbers and as a suite arranged for symphony orchestra. Columbia Records then undertook to record the complete work, including several sections cut from stage productions, and met with signal success. And then, on June 9, 1952, Porgy and Bess was revived in Dallas, and a fantastic saga began. The production toured Europe, returned for a year in New York and an American tour, went back to Europe, on to Latin America, played for a week at La Scala in Milan, went behind the Iron Curtain to Leningrad (December 26, 1955) and Moscow, and closed four years later on June 3, 1956 in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. As an example of American theatrical art it provided an unparalleled exhibit for residents of twenty-nine countries. It was pointed out at the time that Porgy and Bess did not so much make a tour as a triumphal procession. And now, to round out the story, Porgy and Bess has been adapted for motion pictures in a Samuel Goldwyn production, directed by Otto Preminger and starring Sidney Poitier, Dorothy Dandridge, Sammy Davis Jr., and Pearl Bailey.

In this program of music from Porgy and Bess, Percy Faith has chosen not only the magnificent highlights but has gone on to include some rarely-heard sections of the Gershwin score. Divorced from its lyrics, the music proves as exciting and vibrant as ever—few melodies anywhere are lovelier than “Summertime” or more touching than “My Man’s Gone Now,” fewer still have the ebullience of “I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin’” or “It Ain’t Neceesarily So.” And included, too, are such comparatively unfamiliar gems as “A Woman Is A Sometime Thing,” “Oh, I Can’t Sit Down” and the street cries of “The Strawberry Woman” and “The Crab Man.” Mr. Faith has presented these selections in the sequence in which they appear in opera, forming a sweeping panorama that moves with engrossing power from the opening sketch of “Catfish Row” to the proud finale, “I’m on My Way.”

The plot of Porgy and Bess concerns a crippled Negro beggar who lives in Catfish Row, a tenement on the waterfront of Charleston, South Carolina. (In the film, the time has been set back from Heyward’s original contemporary setting to that of roughly 1911.) Bess, a vibrant young woman, takes refuge from the law with Porgy, and grows to love him for his gentleness and strength. When Porgy is arrested on suspicion of murder, Bess falls under the evil influences of Sportin’ Life and goes off to New York City with him. On his return, Porgy finds her gone, but with deep faith sets off in his little goat cart to find her. A synopsis so brief can only hint at the richness and depth of the libretto itself, and gives no idea at all of the incomparable splendors of the score. Nevertheless, in Percy Faith’s instrumental settings, the power and excitement of Porgy and Bess are preserved with genuine sympathy, and the music is so ‘right,’ so true, that one is swept along by it. It may be apposite to quote a remark by Virgil Thomson: “When one considers one by one the new works that the world’s greatest opera houses have produced with ballyhoos and hallelujahs in the past forty years and the almost unvarying pattern of their failure, one is inclined to be more than proud of our little Georgie.” And even without Mr. Thomson’s qualification, one is inclined, as these magnificent melodies unfold, to be more than proud.

For this album, I used two orchestral combinations of thirty-seven and forty-two pieces. The performances of the men were so fine that I am inclined to give credit where credit is due, and list the names of those who played important solos, and to praise the orchestra as a whole. I have always thought of this orchestra as an individual, as a soloist rather than as an ensemble.

— Percy Faith

Violin: George Ockner, Piano: Bernie Leighton, Trumpet: "Doc" Severinson, Alto Sax: Jimmie Abato, Tenor Sax: Russ Banzer, Mallets: Terry Snyder, Cello: Phil Kraus, Cello: Lucien Schmidt, Oboe: Harold Feldman

“There’s a magic in the distance, where the sea-line meets the sky,” wrote the poet Alfred Noyes. And in this enchanting collection of music inspired by faraway horizons of the world, Percy Faith applies his matchless touch to a dozen songs that take on a nostalgic glow even for hose who have never journeyed to mysterious India, the fabulous Orient or found peace and contentment on a sun-drenched Pacific isle.

Percy leads his orchestra (sometimes augmented by a wordless vocal chorus) in shimmering evocations of a mythical Himalayan utopia, Shangri-La; a delightfully languid version of Kashmiri Song, suggestive of all the seductive charm of pale hands beside the Shalimar, and songs of Siam (Richard Rodgers’ beloved March of Siamese Children), Persia (Stranger in Paradise, And This Is My Beloved), Japan (Percy’s own composition, Cherry Blossom, and Irving Berlin’s Sayonara), China (Mountain High, Valley Low) and the Pacific region (Beyond the Reef, The Moon of Manakoora, Return to Paradise).

As he has unforgettably demonstrated in his superb series of recordings of Latin American music, popular ballads, favorite standards and Broadway hits, Percy Faith can color a melody as no other conductor-arranger-composer can. The sounds of SHANGRI-LA! Make it abundantly clear that the music of distant realms—real or imagined—has inspired the Maestro’s palette to glow more brilliantly than ever.

The miracle of modern instrumentation has brought new life to the popular song market. So accustomed are we to hearing “classical” arrangements that we often take them for granted; the effortless beautify and grace of the music belies its struggle for popular acclaim. Actually, it has cost our foremost arrangers over a decade of trial and error to produce the colorful variety which marks today’s popular hits. Not only does this variety mean higher standards of performance, but also a greater range and incentive for songwriting in the future.

Experience, the key to making significant music, is widely reflected in the career of arranger-conductor Percy Faith. One of the leading concert, broadcast and recording figures, he has been keeping popular music alive and interesting ever since, as a youngster, he played piano in a picture theatre. Born in Canada, Percy made his radio debut while studying at the Toronto Conservatory of Music. He was active in orchestra work, and at the age of twenty-three conducted his own string group on the air. At twenty-six, he was signed as a staff arranger and conductor by the Canadian Broadcasting Company and three years later became musical director of C.B.C. through the show “Music by Faith.”

When Percy came to the United States in 1940 to succeed Josef Pasternak on the “Carnation Contented Hour,” popular music was resistant to classicized arranging, except in the films. As conductor of this program for the next seven years, however, he witnessed and helped to create many changes in the scoring of everyday ballads. It was during this era that dance bands adopted violins and also gave birth to “progressive” jazz. Contracted to star as the director of radio’s “Pause That Refreshes” between 1947 and 1950, Percy aided current Folk and International trends by featuring well-known American, European and South American singers as guests on the program.

Because of his activity as a composer, Percy Faith’s arrangements never lose their highly original flair. It is evident in this album of mood settings, as they were selected for melodic evenness and recorded to emphasize the feeling of simple yet pervasive sound. One of the most striking features you will hear is the contrast between novel instrumentation and the familiarity of the music itself. Under the skilled direction of Percy Faith, this imaginative contrast forms the basis for one of the most delightful collections in the modern repertoire.

With the mid-90s Easy Listening revival well and truly under way, it is a very good time to be introducing this new compilation of Columbia recordings by master arranger-conductor Percy Faith.

Melody is the essence of ‘Easy,’ as it’s now trendily referred to, and there is no greater lover and respecter of melody than Canadian-born Faith, here heard enhancing twenty magnificent themes from stage and screen.

It will come as little surprise to anyone that Percy Faith, known worldwide for his sumptuous string sound, started his musical education playing the violin at the age of seven. Courtesy of an aunt, a piano then came into his life and for a while, both instruments shared his affections. Then the keyboard edged ahead.

Aged eleven, precocious Percy was playing piano for the silent movies – a fabulous training ground – at $3 a time, and aged fifteen, he was giving his first major recital at Massey Hall. But a tragic accident around 1926, in which his hands were burned, effectively ruled out a concert career and the young maestro turned to arranging.

For the remainder of the ‘20s, Faith combined theory and practice, balancing study at the Toronto Conservatory with hands-on experience on bandstands and radio. He even formed his own string ensemble, another pointer to his fate.

By the early ‘30s, he was safely ensconced at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, presenting “Gaiety In Romance,” then “Streamline” and ultimately “Music By Faith,” which was carried in the USA by MBS. However, budget cuts prompted him to move on and in 1940, he moved to America, immediately replacing Josef Paternak as M.D. for Carnation’s “Contented Hour” on NBC. More radio work followed, as did records for Decca and RCA before, in 1950, aged forty-two, he arrived at Columbia Records, there to remain for twenty-six years, until his death.

“Your Dance Date” was the first of over eighty albums Faith and his orchestra made for the company, a body of work that eventually embraced everything from salutes to great Broadway shows and great American composers via exploration of great Latin rhythms to pop tunes and even, in the mid-70s, disco treatments. Total sales topped the fifty million mark.

Along the way, Faith enjoyed hit singles (“Delicado,” “The Song From Moulin Rouge,” “Theme From A Summer Place”), accompanied Columbia’s star singers (Tony Bennett, Doris Day, Sarah Vaughan, Rosemary Clooney, Johnny Mathis), composed or adapted hit tunes (“My Heart Cries For You,” “Swedish Rhapsody,” “Theme For Young Lovers,” “The Virginian”), scored movies (“Love Me Or Leave Me,” “Tammy Tell Me True,” “The Oscar”) and toured Japan, where he remains an MOR icon.

Percy Faith died on February 9th, 1976, six weeks after completing work on “Summer Place ’76,” an album led by a contemporary update of his single best-known title.

The top-drawer film and show tunes assembled here were meat and drink to the man and consequently, despite the absence of his hits (readily available elsewhere), this collection in many ways represents quintessential Faith.

Gerald Mahlowe, 1996

Ever feel that the daily grind of making a living was interfering with living itself? Tired of big business deals, mass culture, bomb shelters? Then come for an exciting subway ride with composer Jule Styne and arranger-conductor Percy Faith. Percy is an expert guide through Jule Styne’s irresistible score for the new Broadway musical hit, Subways Are for Sleeping, all about Manhattan’s zany “underground” population. Book and lyrics are by the famed team of Betty Comden and Adolph Green.

Percy Faith’s arrangement of the opening number begins, appropriately, with drums representing the distant rumble of a subway train, then swells to a roaring orchestral crescendo as we Ride Through The Night to meet some of New York’s most relaxed and picturesque odd-balls. The easy-going strains of I’m Just Taking My Time puts us in a receptive mood to meet these carefree denizens of subways, Grand Central Station benches—and even deserted galleries in the hallowed Metropolitan Museum of Art! We discover with them how amicable the world really can be as we listen to the cheerful, lilting When You Help a Friend Out.

Who Knows What Might Have Been? Introduces us to the show’s hero Tom Bailey, ex-business tycoon turned odd-jobber (walking people’s dogs is a specialty). A chance encounter in the subway introduces him to a runaway bride, Angie McKay. The driving tempo of Getting Married reflects Angie’s impetuous decision to escape matrimony with her boss for whom she represents a combination tax deduction and social hostess.

Percy Faith emphasizes restless, insistent percussion and wistful strings in his arrangement of I Just Can’t Wait. (Charlie Smith, professional meal moocher, can’t wait for the treat of seeing his girl friend fully dressed—her “system” is to wear a wrap-around bath towel in her hotel room and thus for long, rent-overdue periods stave off forcible eviction!)

Tom avoid the Christmas gift rush by standing still—as a street corner Santa Claus, collecting money for the Community Center. Percy Faith lends the spirited, joyous Be A Santa a rousing orchestral treatment. Sleigh bells jingle gaily, church bells ring out merrily and piccolos tweet brightly in this captivating salute to the Yuletide.

Percy’s famous trademark, silken strings, are used appropriately for How Can You Describe a Face?, Tom’s eloquent attempt to describe Angie’s beauty. Now I Have Someone is equally persuasive.

Come Once in a Lifetime is a characteristically-buoyant Jule Styne showstopper. Conductor Faith captures brilliantly its infectious exuberance. Wind instruments followed by rhapsodic strings translate into purely orchestral terms Angie’s declaration of love, I Said It and I’m Glad.

Percy Faith concludes his musical tour of the Subways system by answering the happy question, What Is This Feeling in the Air? With a hint of wedding bells.

—CURTIS F. BROWN

Percy Faith, composer-arranger-conductor of international fame, has accumulated a long, impressive list of successes and awards. His recording of The Song from “Moulin Rouge” won the “best-selling single of the year” award from Cash Box, the show business magazine. His arrangements of Because of You; Cold, Cold Heart and Rags to Riches helped Tony Bennett win three gold discs for sales topping the million mark. An original song, My Heart Cries for You, also sold over a million discs and was instrumental in launching Guy Mitchell’s career as a major recording artist.

In 1955 Percy Faith received an Academy Award nomination for scoring and conducting the musical sound track for the movie Love Me or Leave Me. An expert arranger for such top vocal stars as Rosemary Clooney, Johnny Mathis and Doris Day, Percy’s album collections range from Latin American rhythms through mood music to immensely popular orchestral settings of Broadway shows, including Kismet, My Fair Lady, Porgy and Bess, The Sound of Music and Camelot.

The suave arrangements of Percy Faith have propelled three superb records over the million-seller mark: Theme from “A Summer Place,” “The Song from Moulin Rouge” and “Delicado.” Moreover, it was Percy himself who adapted “The Song from Moulin Rouge” from the original movie score, and whose music for “My Heart Cries for You” provided singer Guy Mitchell with his first million-selling record. This collection of great themes from motion pictures, including Percy’s latest composition, the theme from “Tammy Tell Me True,” is in the same great Faith tradition, sumptuous, tasteful and exciting. Percy Faith was born in Toronto, Canada, on April 7, 1908. He began his studies early, and worked so studiously that by the time he was eleven, he was earning three dollars a night (plus carfare) as a pianist for silent movies in a Toronto theatre. At fifteen, Percy made his concert debut as a pianist in Massey Hall. As he continued his studies, he discovered a growing interest in arranging and composing, which in time outran his desire for a pianistic career. In 1933, he was appointed staff conductor for the Canadian Broadcasting System, where he remained until 1940 when he moved to the United States to become conductor of “The Contented Hour.” In 1947, Percy became conductor of “The Pause That Refreshes on the Air,” later for “The Woolworth Hour.” Other radio programs and guest appearances with such orchestras as the NBC Symphony further enhanced his reputation. He joined Columbia Records in 1950. Conservatory-trained Faith follows a composer’s intentions so sympathetically that he never distorts a melody. He enhances it, adding exotic color with instruments, creating constant surprises with counterpoint of tunes or intricate rhythms. His inventions are so considerable that a Percy Faith arrangement can be virtually a fresh composition, yet it never masks the original. The sound of his massed violins, his lustrous brasses and his impeccable tempos is unmistakable.

Rock ‘n’ roll is generally presumed to be a young person’s game, so it may come as a surprise to learn that the best-selling instrumental of the rock era was a lush, richly orchestrated ballad credited to a 52-year-old conductor. Percy Faith was the conductor and his hit was The Theme From “A Summer Place.” It sold well over a million copies and topped the Bilbaord pop chart for nine weeks in early 1960.

Born in Toronto, Canada, April 7, 1908, Faith learned to play the violin by the time he was 7. He went on to study at the Toronto Conservatory of Music. He also played piano in a silent movie theater and the violin with several Canadian orchestras.

When Faith was 18 he severely damaged his hands trying to put out a fire at a clothing store operated by his sister. His violin-playing days were over but he continued in music, working as a conductor and arranger, joining the Canadian Broadcasting Company in 1933. He had his own show – “Music By Faith” – that was so popular in Canada it was picked up for broadcast in the U.S. by the Mutual Broadcasting System.

Faith relocated to the United States in 1940 as musical director for a radio series called “The Carnation Contented Hour.” In 1950, he was hired by Columbia Records’ head Mitch Miler to serve as an arranger and conductor for the label’s staff orchestra.

The Faith touch was soon heard on huge pop hits for Tony Bennett, including Because Of You (1950), Cold Cold Heart (1952) and Rags To Riches (1953). Faith also worked on big singles for Guy Mitchell, Rosemary Clooney, Frankie Laine and Doris Day.

Miller also encouraged Faith to record on his own and his first success came in 1950 when I Cross My Fingers, with a vocal by Russ Emery, was a Top 20 hit. All My Love, also issued in 1950, went Top 10. Faith closed out the year with Christmas In Killarney, which was a Top 30 song.

The hits kept coming in the early ‘50s. In 1951, he went Top 10 with On Top Of Old Smokey which sported the voice of Burl Ives. He also did well with When The Saints Go Marching In. Delicado, issued in the spring of 1952, went to No. 1 for a week.

In the spring of 1953, Faith’s recording of Swedish Rhapsody went on the charts where it would peak at No. 21. It’s flip side, Song From ‘Moulin Rouge’ (Where Is Your Heart), with a sweet vocal by Felicia Sanders, went on the Billboard list a month after Swedish Rhapsody. It would stay there for 24 weeks – 10 at No. 1 – and be cited as the best-selling record of 1953.

Later in ’53 Faith had a Top 20 record with Return To Paradise. Many Times was also popular that year. In 1954 he charted with Dream, Dream, Dream and The Bandit.

While Faith’s singles were being challenged by Elvis Presley and his pals, the conductor was doing well on the album charts. Adults were taken with his lush arrangements of standards and “Passport To Romance” was a Top 20 in the summer of 1956. “My Fair Lady,” with songs from the enormously popular Broadway musical, did even better, going Top 10 in 1957. A collection of songs from “Porgy And Bess” did well in 1959. In 1960, both “Bouquet” and “Jealousy” were Top 10 sellers.

In the early fall of 1959, Faith – who continued to release an occasional single – recorded the them from Warner Bros.’ “A Summer Place.” It was a steamy story of young love starring teen sensations Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue and adults Dorothy McGuire, Richard Egan and Arthur Kennedy. The single took almost six months to edge into Billboard’s Hot 100 in January 1960.

Once it got on the charts, the record moved quickly, and, after less than two months, it settled in at the top of the rankings for a nine-week run. It also won a Grammy as Record of the Year.

Despite his massive hit, Faith didn’t release an album based on the single. But he didn’t seem to need to as his albums of lush mood music continued to sell very well. In 1961, he was back in the Top 10 with music from “Camelot.” That was followed by popular collections featuring the music of Mexico and Brazil.

In 1963, Faith slightly altered his musical direction. He was still doing lush collections of instrumentals, but he switched from standards as his source to the Top 40. “Themes For Young Lovers” featured his 1960 hit of the same name and string-filled arrangements of teen hits like Go Away Little Girl, All Alone Am I and On Broadway. The sparkling sound of the album pushed it to Billboard’s Top 15 and eventual gold record status.

Faith continued to offer his versions of pop hits on “Shangri-La” and “Great Folk Themes.” In 1964, he was back with “More Themes For Young Lovers.”

Through the early ‘70s, Faith continued to record popular albums featuring his orchestra and chorus, including “Love Theme From Romeo And Juliet,” for which he received a 1969 Grammy for Best Contemporary Performance by a Chorus.

In all, Faith had 30 albums on the Billboard charts between 1956 and 1972. Three of them went gold.

Faith died of cancer February 9, 1976. He left a huge legacy of great music during his years on Columbia and Collectables is pleased to present some of the best of that work on this tribute to a man who spent more than 40 years bringing fine music to the work.

– Mark Marymount

The Percy Faith Strings, born a dozen years ago in a golden and inevitable album we called Bouquet, are, indeed, the essence of the Percy Faith writing. In four wedges of first and second violins, violas and cellos, forty-eight of the finest string players in the world spread out from the podium like four exquisite ribs in a delicate fan of sound—a Beatle ballad as familiar as a friend woven into counter melodies so precisely right that they too sound familiar. Then, the startling individuality of a flugel horn, an alto sax, a trombone or a flute appears warm and confidential, then disappears again into the flowing strings. Percy Faith, the composer, the arranger, the conductor, distills in this orchestra these complimentary talents, which, for him, are best expressed by the bows of a family of strings.

The songs of The Beatles, which “play for strings” was the criterion. The most memorable and meaningful compositions of the past decade of important music are the program. To some these performances simply reinforce what they have always known—that these songs are beautiful. To some others this new and flattering expression of the songs brings, at last the new realization. To me, and probably to you, the setting fits the gem, and the listening is lovely.

And isn’t it nice to know that not everything in the air waters the eyes, stings the membranes, shatters the atmosphere? This graceful, airborne music enhances our environment and charms the surface of the earth just as Thoreau’s flute, floating above Walden, charmed the perch in the pond.

Irving Townsend

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