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Arnold's Celtic Connections

Donald Macleod explores the influence of Cornwall and Ireland upon Malcolm Arnold and his music.

Donald Macleod explores the influence of Cornwall and Ireland upon Malcolm Arnold and his music.

Sir Malcolm Arnold was a prolific composer, writing music in many different genres ranging from nine symphonies and over twenty concertos, to chamber music, music for brass bands and nearly one hundred and twenty film scores. These many works for film include classics such as Hobson’s Choice, Whistle Down the Wind, the St Trinian’s films, and The Bridge on the River Kwai for which he won an Oscar. He composed works for some of the very top performers in the music industry including Julian Bream, Julian Lloyd Webber, Larry Adler, Frederic Thurston, Benny Goodman, and collaborated with the likes of Deep Purple and Gerard Hoffnung. His music crossed social boundaries and gave pleasure to so many, and yet his personal life was marred by alcoholism, depression and periods of hospitalisation. He’s been described as a larger than life character, outrageous, Falstaffian, Bohemian, and some of the stories which circulated about Arnold have become the stuff of legend.

Across the week Donald Macleod traces Sir Malcolm Arnold’s life through exploring five different influences upon the composer’s music, from his eclectic interest in different kinds of musical genres, to his own mental and emotional wellbeing. In today’s programme the focus is upon the influence of Cornwall and Ireland upon Arnold’s life and creativity.

Sir Malcolm Arnold spent much time holidaying in Cornwall and eventually living there. It would become a significant home for Arnold, often providing the inspiration and setting to compose many works including his Four Cornish Dances, Three Sea Shanties and Fantasy for Guitar. Ireland would also provide a similar role for Arnold, although his troubled personal life also had a great influence upon his music including the Eighth Symphony, and his Philharmonic Concerto.

Three Shanties, Op 4 (Allegro vivace)
Jaime Martin, flute
Jonathan Kelly, oboe
Emma Johnson, clarinet
Claire Briggs, horn
Susanna Cohen, bassoon

Four Cornish Dances, Op 91
The Philharmonia,
Bryden Thomson, conductor

Fantasy for Guitar, Op 107
Sean Shibe, guitar

Symphony No 8, Op 124 (Allegro)
National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland
Andrew Penny, conductor

Philharmonic Concerto, Op 120
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Bernard Haitink, conductor

Produced by Luke Whitlock, for BBC Wales

If you are experiencing emotional stress, help and support is available.
Emotional distress
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/4WLs5NlwrySXJR2n8Snszdg/emotional-distress-information-and-support

Mental health
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/1NGvFrTqWChr03LrYlw2Hkk/information-and-support-mental-health

59 minutes

Music Played

  • Malcolm Arnold

    Three Shanties for wind quintet, Op 4 (Allegro vivace)

    Performer: Jaime Martín. Performer: Jonathan Kelly. Performer: Emma Johnson. Performer: Claire Briggs. Performer: Susanna Cohen.
    • ASV : CDDCA922.
    • ASV.
    • 6.
  • Malcolm Arnold

    Four Cornish Dances, Op 91

    Performer: Philharmonia Orchestra. Conductor: Bryden Thomson.
    • CHANDOS : CHAN8867.
    • CHANDOS.
    • 13.
  • Malcolm Arnold

    Fantasy for guitar, Op 107

    Performer: Sean Shibe.
    • Delphian DCD34193.
    • Delphian.
    • 12.
  • Malcolm Arnold

    Symphony No 8, Op 124 (Allegro)

    Performer: RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Andrew Penny.
    • Naxos 8552001.
    • Naxos 8552001.
    • 4.
  • Malcolm Arnold

    Philharmonic Concerto, Op 120

    Orchestra: London Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Bernard Haitink.
    • LPO0023.
    • LPO0023.
    • 6.

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