Sir Malcolm Henry Arnold, CBE (21 October 1921 - 23 September 2006) was an English composer and symphonist.
Malcolm Arnold began his career playing trumpet professionally, but by age thirty his life was devoted to composition. He was bracketed with Benjamin Britten and William Walton as one of the most sought-after composers in Britain. His natural melodic gift earned him a reputation as a composer of light music in works such as his sets of Welsh, English, Scottish, Irish and Cornish Dances, and his scores to the St Trinian's films and Hobson's Choice.
Early life and education
Malcolm Arnold was born in Northampton, the youngest of five children from a prosperous Northampton family of shoemakers. As a rebellious teenager, he was attracted to the creative freedom of jazz. After seeing Louis Armstrong play in Bournemouth, he took up the trumpet at the age of 12 and 5 years later won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music (RCM).
At the RCM he studied composition with Gordon Jacob and the trumpet with Ernest Hall. In 1941 he joined the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) as second trumpet and became principal trumpet in 1943.
In 1941 he registered as a conscientious objector with a condition of joining the National Fire Service, but in the event he was allowed to continue in the LPO. In 1944, after his brother in the RAF had been killed, he volunteered for military service, but when the army put him in a military band he shot himself in the foot to get back to civilian life. After a season as principal trumpet with the BBC Symphony Orchestra he returned to the London Philharmonic in 1946 where he remained until 1948 to become a full-time composer.
Arnold was a relatively conservative composer of tonal works, but a prolific and popular one. He acknowledged Hector Berlioz as an influence, and several commentators have drawn a comparison with Jean Sibelius. Arnold's most significant works are generally considered to be his nine symphonies. He also wrote a number of concertos, including one for guitar for Julian Bream, one for cello for Julian Lloyd Webber, one for clarinet for Benny Goodman, one for harmonica for Larry Adler, and one – enthusiastically welcomed at its premiere during the 1969 Proms – for three hands on two pianos for the husband-and-wife team of Cyril Smith and Phyllis Sellick. His sets of dances, which consist of two sets of English Dances (Opp. 27 and 33 ), and one set each of Scottish Dances (Op. 59), Cornish Dances (Op. 91), Irish Dances (Op. 126), and Welsh Dances (Op. 138), are in a lighter vein and also popular. One of the English Dances is used as the theme music for the British television programme What the Papers Say. Another popular short work is his Divertimento for Flute, Oboe and Clarinet (Op. 37). Arnold is also known for his relatively large number of compositions and arrangements of his own compositions for brass band.
Arnold also wrote many film scores, winning an Academy Award for The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), and also providing music for The Belles of St Trinian's (1954), The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958) and Whistle Down the Wind (1961). He conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in the recording of Deep Purple's Concerto for Group and Orchestra, and conducted the London Symphony Orchestra in the Gemini Suite composed by the group's organist, Jon Lord.
Later years and death
His later years saw a decline in both health and finances. In 1978 he was treated as an in-patient for several months in the psychiatric ward at the Royal Free Hospital, Pond Street, London, and in 1979 he entered St Andrew's Hospital in his home town of Northampton to be treated for depression and alcoholism.
He overcame both, despite being given a year to live in the early 1980s. He lived for more than 20 more years, completing his Ninth and final symphony in 1986, just as his work was beginning to enjoy a renewal of interest. He also made one final, triumphant return to the Proms podium, although not as conductor, in 1991.
Arnold died at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Norwich on 23 September 2006, after suffering from a chest infection. His last work, The Three Musketeers, was premiered at the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford on the same day in a Northern Ballet production. The score included no new music by Arnold, but excerpts from various of his compositions were arranged by John Longstaff. The original score was compiled by Anthony Meredith.
Popularity and legacy
His works are particularly popular with youth and amateur orchestras, partly because of their playability, and also because of the accessibility of his unique style, which combines the musical elements of classical, jazz, popular and folk. He was for many years a favourite at Proms concerts and Hoffnung festivals. He was also the patron of the Rochdale Youth Orchestra until his death in September 2006.
The Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra made the first commercial recording of Arnold's Divertimento for the Pye label in July 1967 and regularly performed many of his works in the UK and abroad. Arnold also conducted the orchestra in a 1963 De Montfort Hall concert that included his own English Dances and Tam O'Shanter.
Malcolm Arnold wrote the Trevelyan Suite to mark the opening of Trevelyan College, University of Durham. His daughter was among the first intake of students.
Since the 1980s there have been frequent concerts and festivals dedicated to his music. In October of each year there is an annual Malcolm Arnold Festival in his birthplace Northampton.
On 3 September 2010 the Malcolm Arnold Academy in Northampton was opened to the public.
Honours and awards
- 1937 - won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music
- 1941 - W. W. Cobbett Prize, 2nd prize for Vita Abundans
- 1948 - awarded scholarship by the Royal Academy of Music's Mendelssohn Scholarship Foundation
- 1951 - Venice Film Festival 1st prize in the music documentary class for Science in the Orchestra
- 1958 - won Academy Award for the music to The Bridge on the River Kwai
- 1959 - Ivor Novello Award for the music to The Inn of the Sixth Happiness
- 1969 - Honorary Doctorate, University of Exeter
- 1969 - created a Bard of Gorseth Kernow, taking the Bardic name Trompour ('Trumpeter').
- 1970 - appointed a Commander (CBE) of the Order of the British Empire
- 1982 - Honorary Doctorate, University of Durham
- 1983 - Fellowship of the Royal College of Music, London
- 1984 - Honorary Doctorate, University of Leicester
- 1985 - Honorary Member, Royal Academy of Music, London
- 1986 - Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Services to British Music
- 1987 - Wavendon AllMusic Composer of the Year
- 1989 - Honorary Doctorate, Miami University of Ohio
- 1989 - Freedom of the City of Northampton
- 1992 - Fellowship of the Trinity College of Music, London
- 1993 - knighted for services to music
- 1994 - Honorary President, Victoria College of Music, London
- 1997 - Fellowship of the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester
- 2001 - Fellowship of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors
- 2003 - Honorary Doctorate, University of Winchester
- 2004 - Distinguished Musician Award, Incorporated Society of Musicians
- 2006 - Honorary Doctorate, University of Northampton
- Comedy Overture: Beckus the Dandipratt, Op. 5 (1943)
- The Smoke (Overture), Op. 21 (1948)
- A Sussex Overture, Op. 31 (1951)
- Tam o' Shanter Overture (1955)
- A Grand, Grand Overture, Op. 57 (1956)
- Commonwealth Christmas Overture, Op. 64 (1957)
- Sunshine Overture, Op. 83 (1964)
- Peterloo Overture, Op. 97 (1968)
- Anniversary Overture, Op. 99 (1968)
- The Fairfield Overture, Op. 110 (1972)
- Robert Kett Overture, Op. 141 (1988)
- Sinfonietta No. 1, Op. 48 (1954)
- Sinfonietta No. 2, Op. 65 (1958)
- Sinfonietta No. 3, Op. 81 (1964)
- Divertimento No. 1, Op. 1 (1945)
- Divertimento No. 2, Op. 24 (1950), revised as Op. 75 (1961)
- Little Suites
- Little Suite No. 1, Op. 53 (1955)
- Little Suite No. 2, Op. 78 (1961)
- Little Suite No. 3, Op. 142 (1990)
- Little Suite No. 4, Op. 80a (1963)
- Little Suite No. 5, Op. 93a (1957)
- Larch Trees, Op. 3 (1943)
- Symphonic Suite, Op. 12
- Symphony for Strings (Op. 13, 1946)
- Serenade for Small Orchestra, Op. 26 (1950)
- Symphonic Study Machines Op. 30 (1951)
- Sarabande and Polka from Ballet 'Solitaire' (1956)
- Toy Symphony, Op. 62 (1957)
- Sweeney Todd Concert Suite, Op. 68a (1959)
- The Song of Simeon, Op. 69 (1959)
- Grand Concerto Gastronomique, Op. 76
- Water Music, Op. 82 (1964)
- Severn Bridge Variations (1966, part of a composite work composed by Arnold, Alun Hoddinott, Nicholas Maw, Daniel Jones, Grace Williams and Michael Tippett)
- Salute to Thomas Merritt, Op. 98 (1987)
- Concerto for 28 players (Op. 105, 1970)
- A Flourish For Orchestra, Op. 112 (1973)
- Philharmonic Concerto, Op. 120 (1976)
- Variations for Orchestra, Op. 122 (1977)
- Concerto for Two Violins and String Orchestra (Op. 77, 1962)
- Concerto for Piano Duet and Strings (Op. 32, 1951)
- Concerto for Piano 3 Hands and Orchestra (Op. 104, 1969; better known as Concerto for Phyllis and Cyril)
- Fantasy on a Theme of John Field Op 116
- Viola Concerto (Op. 108, 1971)
- Cello Concerto Shakespearean (Op. 136, 1988)
- Flute Concerto No. 1 (Op. 45, 1954)
- Flute Concerto No. 2 (Op. 111, 1972)
- Oboe Concerto (Op. 39, 1952)
- Clarinet Concerto No. 1 (Op. 20, 1948)
- Clarinet Concerto No. 2 (Op. 115, 1974)
- Recorder Concerto (Op. 133, 1988)
- Theme and Variations: Fantasy for Recorder and String Orchestra
- Horn Concerto No. 1 (Op. 11, 1945)
- Horn Concerto No. 2 (Op. 58, 1956)
- Trumpet Concerto (1988) (Op. 125, 1988)
- Serenade for Guitar and Strings, Op. 50 (1955)
- Guitar Concerto, Op. 67 (1959)
- Organ Concerto (Op. 47, 1954)
- Harmonica Concerto (Op. 46, 1954)
- Henri Christophe (1949; four acts - incomplete, 25 pages in full score)[Libretto: Joe Mendoza]
- "Up at the Villa" (1951; one act -unfinished, preliminary sketches only)[ Libretto: Joe Mendoza, after Robert Browning]
- The Dancing Master, Op. 32 (1952; one act) [Libretto: Joe Mendoza after William Wycherley]
- The Open Window, Op. 56 (1956; one act) [Libretto:Sidney Gilliatt after H.H.Munro("Saki")]
Vocal and choral
- Laudate Dominum (Psalm 150) for choir and organ, Op. 25 (1950)
- Two Ceremonial Psalms, Op. 35 (1952)
- John Clare Cantata, Op. 52 (1955)
- Song of Praise "John Clare", Op. 55 (1956)
- The Song of Simeon, Op. 69 (1959)
- Parasol (1960) - TV musical
- Song of Freedom for choir and brass band, Op. 109 (1972)
- The Return of Odysseus, Op. 119 (1976)
- Three or more players
- Three Shanties for Woodwind Quintet, Op. 4 (1943)
- Quintet for Flute, Violin, Viola, Horn and Bassoon, Op. 7 (1944)
- Divertimento for Flute, Oboe and Clarinet, Op. 37 (1952)
- Oboe Quartet, Op. 61 (1957)
- String Quartet No. 1 (1949)
- String Quartet No. 2 (1975)
- Piano Trio, Op. 54 (1956)
- Trio for Flute, Viola and Bassoon Op. 6(1942)
- Quintet For Brass, Op. 73 (1961)
- Brass Quintet No. 2, Op. 132
- Two players
- Duo for Flute and Viola, Op. 10 (1946)
- Flute Sonata (Op. 121, 1977)
- Clarinet Sonatina, Op. 29 (1951)
- Flute Sonatina, Op. 19 (1948)
- Oboe Sonatina, Op. 28 (1951)
- Recorder Sonatina, Op. 41 (1953)
- Violin Sonata No. 1, Op. 15 (1947)
- Violin Sonata No. 2, Op. 43 (1953)
- Viola Sonata, Op. 17 (1947)
- Five pieces for Violin and Piano, Op. 84 (1965)
- Duo for Two Cellos, Op. 85 (1964)
- Divertimento for Two Clarinets
- Fantasy for Flute and Clarinet
- Fantasy for Bassoon Op. 86 (1966)
- Fantasy for Clarinet Op. 87 (1966)
- Fantasy for Horn, Op. 88 (1966)
- Fantasy for Flute Op. 89 (1966)
- Fantasy for Oboe Op. 90 (1966)
- Fantasy for Trumpet, Op. 100 (1969)
- Fantasy for Trombone, Op. 101 (1969)
- Fantasy for Tuba, Op. 102 (1969)
- Fantasy for Guitar, Op. 107 (1971)
- Fantasy for Harp, Op. 117 (1975)
- Fantasy for Recorder, Op. 127 (1987)
- Fantasy for Cello, Op. 130 (1987)
- Allegro in E minor for Piano (1937)
- Children's Suite, Op. 16 (1947)
- Day Dreams (1938)
- Eight Children's Piano Pieces, Op. 36 (1952)
- Eight English Dances, Opp. 27, 33 (1950/51)
- Hobson's Choice (1953)
- Homage to the Queen (1953)
- Prelude (1945)
- Sarabande and Polka from Solitaire (1956)
- Serenade for Piano (1937)
- Sonata for Piano (1942)
- The Buccaneer (1952)
- Three Fantasies for Piano, Op. 129 (1986)
- Three Piano Piees (1937)
- Three Piano Pieces (1943)
- Two Bagatelles, Op. 18 (1947)
- Two Piano Pieces (1941)
- Variations on a Ukrainian Folk Song, Op. 9 (1944)
- Little Suites
- Little Suite No 1 for Brass Band, Op. 80 (1963)
- Little Suite No 2 for Brass Band, Op. 93 (1967)
- Little Suite No 3 for Brass Band, Op. 131
- Fantasy for Brass Band (1974)
- Symphony for Brass Instruments, Op. 123 (1978)
- Fantasy for B flat trumpet, Op. 100
- Fantasy for Horn, Op. 88
- Fantasy for Trombone, Op. 101
- Fantasy for Tuba, Op. 102
- Fanfare For Louis
Film scores (selection)
Arnold composed music for 62 feature films (plus several documentaries and TV work) including:
- Thöne, Raphael D. (2008-08-01) (in German). Malcolm Arnold - Symphonisches Schaffen, Stil und Ästhetik. DE: Entercom Saurus. ISBN 978-3937748085.
- Thöne, Raphael D. (2007-08-20). Malcolm Arnold - A Composer of Real Music: Symphonic Writing, Style and Aesthetics. US/UK: Entercom Saurus. ISBN 978-3937748061.
- Meredith, Anthony; Paul Harris (2004-09-24). Malcolm Arnold: Rogue Genius. UK: Thames / Elkin. ISBN 090341354X.
- Jackson, Paul R. W. (2003-02-06). The Life and Music of Sir Malcolm Arnold - The Brilliant and the Dark. UK: Ashgate. ISBN 1859283810.
- Poulton, Alan (2000-09-30). A Dictionary-Catalog of Modern British Composers ( Volume 1 -pages 105-172). Westport, Connecticut and London. ISBN 0-313-28711-2.
- Craggs, Steward R. (1998-09-30). Malcolm Arnold: A Bio-Bibliography. US: Greenwood. ISBN 031329254X.
- Burton-Page, Piers (1994-10-21). Philharmonic Concerto: The Life and Music of Sir Malcolm Arnold. UK: Methuen. ISBN 041345651X.
- Cole, Hugo (1989). Malcolm Arnold: An Introduction to His Music. UK: Faber & Faber. ISBN 0571100716.
- Poulton, Alan (1986). The Music of Malcolm Arnold. UK: Faber & Faber. ISBN 0571100570.
- Schafer, (Raymond) Murray (1963). British Composers in Interview. UK: Faber & Faber.
- "Malcolm Arnold" by Herbert Chappell, BBC, Omnibus, 1969
- "Sheridan Morley meets...: Malcolm Arnold" by Mike Purton, BBC, 1984
- "An Act of Friendship" by Terry Bryan, ITV Central, 1989
- "A Portrait of Malcolm Arnold" by Richard Fawkes, ITV Anglia TV, Notes on Norfolk, 1990
- "Malcolm Arnold at 70" by Kriss Rusmanis, BBC, Omnibus, 1991
- "Toward the Unknown Region: Malcolm Arnold - A Story of Survival" by Tony Palmer, ITV, The South Bank Show, 2004 (2 parter) (released on DVD)
Obituaries and tributes