Friday, November 1, 2013

Malcolm Arnold / Elizabeth Agnew

Malcolm Henry Arnold, (b. October 21, 1921, Northampton, UK - September  23,  2006, Norwich) was the youngest of five children from a prosperous family of shoemakers.  After seeing Louis Armstrong play in Bournemouth, he took up the trumpet at 12, and, five years, later won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music.  At the RCM he studied composition with Gordon Jacob and Ernest Hall.  In 1941 he joined the London Philharmonic Orchestra as second trumpet

That same year, he registered as a conscientious objector upon joining the National Fire Service, becoming principal with the LPO two years later.

Also in 1943, Arnold wrote the first of several highly successful concert overtures, Beckus the Dandipratt, and the began his series of concerti with one for horn, in a style acknowledging the influences of Hector Berlioz, Gustav Mahler, Bela Bartok, and jazz.

The next year, after his brother had been killed in the Royal Air Force, Arnold volunteered for military service.  When the army put him in a military band, he shot himself in the foot to get back to civilian life.  Following a season as principal trumpet with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, he returned to the London Philharmonic in 1946, for two years.

Soon after, Arnold wrote a film score, the first for over a hundred for documentaries and features between 1947 and 1969.

His nine symphonies, beginning with No. 1 (Op. 22, 1949), are among his most controversial and significant works, and often deeply personal and serious. It was at this time that Arnold also wrote Clarinet Concerto, Op. 20 (1949), for Benny Goodman.

The 1950's proved an especially prolific period for Arnold, such that by 1951, British critics ranked him with Benjamin Britten as one of the most sought-after composers, connecting his music with that of Jean Sibelius.  Arnold's natural melodic gift earned a reputation as composer of light music in works such as concert overtures, and dance sets.  The latter, including the English Dances (Opp. 27 [1950], and 33 [1951]), are popular both in their original orchestral guise and in later wind- and brass-band arrangements.  These dances are also the basis for Solitaire, choreographed by Kenneth MacMillan.

His first in a sequence of highly-successful collaborations with director David Lean was for 1952's The Sound Barrier.  This was followed the next year by The Captain's Paradise.

1954 saw the composition of his Harmonica Concerto, Op. 46, as well as the films Hobson's Choice You Know What Sailors Are, and The Belles of St Trinian's (a favorite score that was to be the first of a series through 1980).  After Trapeze (1956), his score for Lean's epic Bridge on the River Kwai, won an Academy Award in its year of composition -- 1957.  Cinematic effort in the following season included The Roots of Heaven and The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958), the latter winning an Ivor Novello Award.

His set of Scottish Dances, Op. 59, appeared in 1959, as did his Guitar Concerto, Op. 67, for Julian Bream. Other cinematic successesof this period included No Love for Johnnie (1960) and Whistle Down the Wind (1961).

By this time, Arnold had a reputation for being unpleasant, frequently drunk, and highly promiscuous --  divorcing his wife in that year.  His second wife was forced to take out a court order upon separation, and, after this divorce, he made two suicide attempts.

Following 1962's Cornish Dances, Op. 91, and two more film scores (The Inspector and The Lion) -- his three-hands-on-two-pianos concerto, for the husband-and-wife team of Cyril Smith and Phyllis Sellick, was enthusiastically premiered at the 1969 Proms.  This was also the year of Arnold's last major film score, David Copperfield.

In 1978, he was treated as an in-patient for several months in the acute psychiatric ward at the Royal Free Hospital, London, and the next year entered St Andrew's Hospital in Northampton to be treated for depression and alcoholism.

Arnold overcame both, despite being given only a year to live in the early 1980's, lived more than 20 more years thereafter, completing his final symphony in 1986, the same year as the Irish Dances (Op. 126), which were soon followd in 1988 by Cello Concerto, Op. 136, for Julian Lloyd Webber, and a Welsh (Op. 138, 1988) dance set.   By the time of his 70th birthday in 1991, Arnold's reputation recovered and he was able to appear at Royal Albert Hall to receive an ovation after a Proms performance of his Guitar Concerto.

Malcolm Arnold died at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Norwich, on September 23,  2006, after suffering from a chest infection.  His last work, The Three Musketeers, a pastiche assembled by John Longstaff and Anthony Meredith, was premiered that same day by the Northern Ballet, at the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford.

A secondary school in Northampton, was renamed the Malcolm Arnold Academy after the composer on September 3, 2010.

Selected Works List

Divertimento No. 1, Op. 1 (1945)
Larch Trees, Op. 3 (1943)
Three Shanties for Woodwind Quintet, Op. 4 (1943)
Comedy Overture: Beckus the Dandipratt, Op. 5 (1943)
Trio for Flute, Viola and Bassoon Op. 6 (1942)
Quintet for Flute, Violin, Viola, Horn and Bassoon, Op. 7 (1944)
Variations on a Ukrainian Folk-Song, Op 9 (1944)
Duo for Flute and Viola, Op 10 (1945)
Horn Concerto No. 1, Op. 11 (1945)
Symphonic Suite, Op. 12
Symphony for Strings, Op. 13 (1946)
Violin Sonata No. 1, Op. 15 (1947)
Children's Suite for Piano, Op 16 (1947)
Viola Sonata, Op. 17 (1947)
Two Bagatelles, Op. 18 (1947)
Flute Sonatina, Op. 19 (1948)
Concertino, Op 19a (2000)
Concerto for Clarinet and Strings No 1, Op 20 (1949)
The Smoke (Overture), Op. 21 (1948)
Antony and Cleopatra (1949)
Symphony No. 1, Op. 22 (1949)
Divertimento No. 2, Op. 24 (1950)
Laudate Dominum (Psalm 150) for choir and organ, Op. 25 (1950)
Serenade for Small Orchestra, Op. 26 (1950)
English Dances, Set 1, Op. 27 (1950)
Oboe Sonatina, Op. 28 (1951)
Clarinet Sonatina, Op. 29 (1951)
Concertino for Clarinet and Strings, Op 29a (1951)
Symphonic Study Machines Op. 30 (1951)
A Sussex Overture, Op. 31 (1951)
Concerto for Piano Duet and Strings, Op. 32 (1951)
English Dances, Set 2, Op. 33 (1951)
The Dancing Master, Op. 34 (1952; one act)
Two Ceremonial Psalms, Op. 35 (1952)
Eight Children's Piano Pieces, Op 36 (1952)
Divertimento for Flute, Oboe and Clarinet, Op 37 (1952)
Oboe Concerto, Op. 39 (1952)
Symphony No. 2, Op. 40 (1953)
Allegretto and Vivace for Concert Band, Op 40a (1953)
Recorder Sonatina, Op. 41 (1953)   
Homage to the Queen, Op. 42 (1953)
Violin Sonata No. 2, Op. 43 (1953)
Flourish for a Birthday, Op 44 (1953)
Flute Concerto No. 1, Op. 45 (1954)
Harmonica Concerto, Op. 46 (1954)
Organ Concerto, Op. 47 (1954)
Sinfonietta No. 1, Op. 48 (1954)
Rinaldo and Armida, Op. 49 (1954)
Serenade for Guitar and Strings, Op. 50 (1955)
John Clare Cantata, Op. 52 (1955)
Little Suite No. 1, Op. 53 (1955)
Piano Trio, Op. 54 (1956)
Song of Praise "John Clare", Op. 55 (1956)
The Open Window, Op. 56 (1956; one act)
A Grand, Grand Overture, Op. 57 (1956)
Horn Concerto No. 2, Op. 58 (1956)
The Bridge on the River Kwai Concert Suite (1957)
Four Scottish Dances, Op. 59 (1957)
Oboe Quartet, Op. 61 (1957)
Toy Symphony, Op. 62 (1957)
Symphony No. 3, Op. 63 (1957)
Commonwealth Christmas Overture, Op. 64 (1957)
Sinfonietta No. 2, Op. 65 (1958)
Guitar Concerto, Op. 67 (1959)
Sweeney Todd, Op. 68 (1959)
Sweeney Todd Concert Suite, Op. 68a (1959)
The Song of Simeon, Op. 69 (1959)
Symphony No. 4, Op. 71 (1960)
Quintet For Brass, Op. 73 (1961)
Symphony No. 5, Op. 74 (1961)
Divertimento No. 2, revised, Op. 75 (1961)
Grand Concerto Gastronomique, Op. 76
Little Suite No. 2, Op. 78 (1961)
Attleborough, Op 78a (1923)
Concerto for Two Violins and String Orchestra, Op. 77 (1962)
Electra, ballet, Op. 79 (1963)
Little Suite No 1 for Brass Band, Op. 80 (1963)
Little Suite No. 4, Op. 80a (1963)
Sinfonietta No. 3, Op. 81 (1964)
Water Music, Op. 82 (1964)
Sunshine Overture, Op. 83 (1964)
Five pieces for Violin and Piano, Op. 84 (1965
Duo for Two Cellos, Op 85 (1965)
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)
Four Cornish Dances, Op. 91 (1966)
Little Suite No 2 for Brass Band, Op. 93 (1967)
Little Suite No. 5, Op. 93a (1957)
Symphony No. 6, Op. 95 (1967)
Peterloo Overture, Op. 97 (1968)
Salute to Thomas Merritt, Op. 98 (1987)
Anniversary Overture, Op. 99 (1968)
Fantasy for Trumpet, Op. 100 (1969)
Fantasy for Trombone, Op. 101 (1969)
Fantasy for Tuba, Op. 102 (1969)
Concerto for Piano 3 Hands and Orchestra, Op. 104 (1969, for Phyllis and Cyril)
Concerto for 28 players, Op. 105 (1970)
Fantasy for Guitar, Op. 107 (1971)
Viola Concerto, Op. 108 (1971)
Song of Freedom for choir and brass band, Op. 109 (1972)
The Fairfield Overture, Op. 110 (1972)
Flute Concerto No. 2, Op. 111 (1972)
A Flourish For Orchestra, Op. 112 (1973)
Symphony No. 7, Op. 113 (1973)
Fantasy for Brass Band, Op 114a (1973)
Concerto No 2 for Clarinet and Orchestra, Op 115 (1974)
Fantasy on a Theme of John Field Op 116
Fantasy for Harp, Op. 117 (1975)
The Return of Odysseus, Op. 119 (1976)
Philharmonic Concerto, Op. 120 (1976)
Flute Sonata, Op. 121 (1977)
Variations for Orchestra, Op. 122 (1977)
Symphony for Brass Instruments, Op. 123 (1978)
Symphony No. 8, Op. 124 (1978)
Trumpet Concerto, Op. 125 (1988)
Four Irish Dances, Op. 126 (1986)
Fantasy for Recorder, Op. 127 (1987)
Symphony No. 9, Op. 128 (1986)
Three Fantasies for Piano, Op. 129 (1986)
Fantasy for Cello, Op 130 (1987)
Little Suite No 3 for Brass Band, Op. 131
Brass Quintet No. 2, Op. 132
Recorder Concerto, Op. 133 (1988)
Divertimento for Two Bb Clarinets, Op 135 (1988)
Concerto for Cello, Op 136 (1988)
Four Welsh Dances, Op. 138 (1988)
Flourish for a Battle, Op 139 (1989)
Robert Kett Overture, Op. 141 (1988)
A Manx Suite (Little Suite No. 3), Op. 142 (1990)