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Biography of

Arnold Cooke

4 nov 1906 (Gomersal) - 13 aug 2005 (Five Oak Green)
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Arnold Atkinson Cooke (4 November 1906 - 13 August 2005) was a British composer.



He was born at Gomersal, West Yorkshire into a family of carpet manufacturers. He was educated at Repton School and at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, where he read History, but he was already attracted to a career in music. In 1929, having taken a second degree in Music, he studied composition and piano at the Berlin Academy for Music under Paul Hindemith. He later became musical director of the Festival Theatre at Cambridge, and in 1933 was appointed a professor at the Royal Manchester College of Music (now merged into the Royal Northern College of Music). He moved to London in 1937.

In the 1930s Cooke carved out a reputation for himself as a promising young composer, and his music was taken up by leading interpreters. The harpist Maria Korchinska introduced his Harp Quintet in 1932; Sir Henry Wood conducted his Concert Overture No.1 at the 1934 Promenade Concerts. The Griller Quartet premiered his First String Quartet in 1935. In 1936 Havergal Brian singled out for praise a cantata, Holderneth, on a text by the American poet Edward Sweeney, which Cooke later withdrew. Louis Kentner and the BBC Symphony Orchestra premiered his Piano Concerto, which he had completed just before his call-up in 1941.

In the Second World War, he served in the Royal Navy, first in the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious and subsequently as a liaison officer in a Norwegian escort vessel and a Dutch tug that took part in the D-Day Landings. After demobilization he returned to London in 1946, becoming a founder member of the Composers Guild of Great Britain, and from 1947 until his retirement in 1978 he was Professor of Harmony and Composition at Trinity College of Music in London. In 1948, through the recommendation of E. J. Dent he obtained a doctorate from Cambridge. After a stroke in 1993 he virtually ceased to compose, but survived to the age of 98.
Two of his symphonies and other orchestral works were recorded by the Lyrita label, whilst the clarinet quartet and the clarinet concerto were recorded on Hyperion.


As a composer Cooke was highly productive but tended to work in traditional genres. He wrote two operas – Mary Barton (completed 1954) after the novel by Mrs. Gaskell and The Invisible Duke (1976). The ballet Jabez and the Devil (1961) was a commission from the Royal Ballet. He composed six symphonies, several concertos, copious chamber music including a clarinet quintet and five string quartets, many instrumental sonatas, and some important vocal music. His music seems to show the influence of Hindemith almost throughout his career, leavened with a more English sense of lyricism.

List of Works (Selected)


  • Mary Barton, op.27 (1949–1954)
  • The Invisible Duke (1976)


  • Jabez and the Devil, op.50 (1961)

Vocal and Choral Works

  • Holderneth, Cantata (1937)
  • Nocturnes, 5 Songs for soprano, horn and piano (1956)
  • Songs of Innocence for soprano, clarinet and piano (1957)
  • Ode on St Cecilia’s Day for soli, chorus and orchestra, op.57 (1967)
  • The Seamew for voice, flute,oboe and string quartet (1980)
  • O Men from the Fields for unison voices, copyright 1967, in Carols for Choirs, Oxford University Press
  • Five Songs of William Blake for baritone, treble recorder and piano (1987)

Orchestral Music

  • Piano Concerto, op.11 (1940)
  • Symphony No.1 (1947)
  • Concerto in D major for string orchestra (1948)
  • Concerto for Oboe and string orchestra (1954)
  • Clarinet Concerto No.1 (1957)
  • Concerto for Treble Recorder and string orchestra (1957)
  • Violin Concerto (1959)
  • Concerto for small orchestra, op.48 (1960)
  • Symphony No.2 (1963)
  • Symphony No.3 (1967)
  • Variations on a Theme of Dufay (1969)
  • Symphony No.4 (1974)
  • Cello Concerto (1975)
  • Symphony No.5 (1979)
  • Clarinet Concerto No.2 (1984)
  • Symphony No.6 (1984)
  • Concerto for Orchestra (1986)

Chamber Music

  • Octet, op.1 (1931)
  • Harp Quintet, op.2 (1932)
  • Duo for Violin and Viola (1935)
  • String Quartet No.1 (1935)
  • Flute Quartet (1936)
  • Sonata for Viola and Piano (1936–1937)
  • Sonata No.2 for Violin and Piano (1951)
  • Rondo in B flat for Horn and Piano (published 1952)
  • Sinfonietta for 11 Instruments, op.31 (1954)
  • Quartet for Oboe and Strings (1956)
  • Little Suite for Flute and Viola (1957)
  • Sonata for Clarinet and Piano (1959)
  • Theme and Variations for Solo Recorder, op.65
  • Sonata for Treble Recorder and Piano
  • Clarinet Quintet (1962)
  • Quartet-Sonata for Recorder, Violin, Cello and Harpsichord (1964–1965)
  • Sonata No.2 for Cello and Piano (1980)

Piano Music

  • Sonata for 2 Pianos, op.8
  • Piano Sonata No.1
  • Suite in C major (1943–1944, rev. 1963)
  • Piano Sonata No.2 (1966)

Organ Music

  • Prelude, Aria and Finale
  • Fugal Adventures
  • Fantasia, op.60
  • Toccata and Aria, op.70
  • Suite (1989)
  • Impromptu

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Arnold Cooke. Allthough most Wikipedia articles provide accurate information accuracy can not be guaranteed.
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