Popular London conductor dies, aged 94

He was a fixture at Sadlers Wells in the 1950s and 1960s, often conducting Gilbert and Sullivan but even more frequently in light French opera. Alexander Faris was an authority on Jacques Offenbach and a man who never allowed himself to be troubled by the weightier aspects of music.

Away from the opera, he wrote a lot of television themes – most enduringly for the long-running serial, Upstairs Downstairs, itself a little lilt of genius.

alexander faris

Sandy died on Monday, aged 94.


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  • Sandy was a marvellous interpreter of opera, operetta and ballet. He understood the value of work like Offenbach and Sullivan – and that its real effect lay in a subtle and light touch. He was also a charming and amusing mentor to a whole school of repetiteurs.

  • I haven’t seen Upstairs, Downstairs for years, and was not one of those people who made it appointment television, though I liked it. But I can still hum that theme, even thoughI have not yet clicked your link. I will, though, as a small tribute to this delightful-sounding man who gave me a little pleasure that has lasted.

    Anyway, anyone who loves G&S is in my eternal good books. RIP.

  • Dear Norman:

    I quote your phrase:

    “Alexander Faris was an authority on Jacques Offenbach and a man who never allowed himself to be trouble[..d] by the weightier aspects of music.”

    The tone is patronisng, and notes also that it shows limitatation on your part, rather than the person to whom you are supposedly offering a tribute.

    Do you really think that a professional of Alexander Faris’s calibre would find this appropriate? Do you know – from any personal experience – of his love of Mozart, for example?

    In composing an appreciation ( a not very onerous task), it would be welcome to do so with appropriate grace and perhaps a slightly more elevated sense of taste.

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