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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Alexander "Sandy" Faris (born 11 June 1921) is an Irish composer, conductor and writer, known for his television theme tunes. He has composed and recorded many operas and musicals, and has composed film scores and orchestral works.


Life and career

Faris was born in Caledon, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. He attended Oxford University and served in World War II with the Irish Guards. After the war, still stationed in Europe, he was involved with the restoration of damaged German opera houses. He then attended the Royal College of Music. Faris first conducted in London for a 1949 revival of Song of Norway at the Palace Theatre.[1]

Faris first conducted the works of Gilbert and Sullivan at Sadler's Wells Opera in 1962. There, he conducted both The Mikado and Iolanthe. With the Linden Singers and the Hamburg Radio Symphony Orchestra, he led recordings of The Gondoliers, The Mikado and excerpts from The Pirates of Penzance. He was engaged by the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company to conduct its last season in 1981–82, and he was one of the conductors for the company's last night at the Adelphi Theatre on 27 February 1982.[1] He was the conductor for twelve of the Savoy operas in the 1982 series of videos by Brent Walker productions.[2] Four years later, with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in Glasgow, he conducted ten Sullivan overtures (Nimbus CD, NI 5066).

Besides his work at Sadler's Wells in the 1960s, Faris has served as the musical director for the Carl Rosa Opera Company in the 1950s and the Royal Ballet. His original London cast recordings include Summer Song (1956), Irma La Douce (1958), Robert and Elizabeth (1964), The Great Waltz (1970), Bordello (1974), Bar Mitzvah Boy (1978), and Charlie and Algernon (1979).[1]

As a composer he wrote film scores for The Quare Fellow (1962), He Who Rides a Tiger (1965), Rowlandson's England, and Georgy Girl (1966).[3]

For television he wrote the music for the series Upstairs, Downstairs, Wings[4] and The Duchess of Duke Street.[5] His title theme tune for Upstairs, Downstairs achieved great popularity. Pauline Collins recorded two vocal versions of the theme music in 1973:[6] "What Are We Going to Do With Uncle Arthur?", with lyrics by Alfred Shaughnessy, and "With Every Passing Day", with lyrics by Benny Green.[7] Faris's theme tune for Upstairs, Downstairs came further into prominence in 2009 when it was used as the title music for the "Upshares, Downshares" finance slot on BBC Radio 4's PM news programme.

Among his other compositions is the song "A Century of Micks" for the choir of the Irish Guards.[8] He also wrote the orchestral Sketches of Regency England and the operetta R Loves J (Chichester Festival, 1973).[1][9]


  • 1980. Jacques Offenbach (London: Faber & Faber, ISBN 9780571111473)
  • 2009. Da Capo Al Fine: A Life in Music (Matador, ISBN 9781848761131)


  1. ^ a b c d Stone, David. "Alexander Faris", at the Who Was Who in the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company website, accessed 16 December 2009
  2. ^ Shepherd, Marc (2003). "The Brent Walker Videos". A Gilbert and Sullivan Discography. Retrieved 2009-12-17.  
  3. ^ IMDB
  4. ^ Recorded for BBC Records, RESL 37, 1977
  5. ^ Recorded for BBC Records, RESL 45, 1977
  6. ^ Decca 1973
  7. ^ Lyrics
  8. ^ Irish Guards Singers
  9. ^ Scowcroft, Philip L. "Some British Conductor-Composers", Musicweb International, accessed 16 December 2009

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