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Arnold's Many Personalities

Donald Macleod journeys through some of the contrasting sides of Sir Malcolm Arnold and his music.

Donald Macleod journeys through some of the contrasting sides of Sir 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 love of Cornwall and Ireland, to his own mental and emotional wellbeing. In today’s programme the focus is upon the many different and contrasting sides of Arnold’s character and its impact upon his music.

Some of Arnold’s best loved scores may be full of fun, such as his music for the Hoffnung festivals, but his works could also have a much darker character as well. The slow movement in his second symphony depicts lamenting shades of Mahler, and his first string quartet has influences of Bartok. In his early career Arnold also led a double life between trumpeter, and composer. The composer won the day, and yet despite his often highly turbulent personal life, Arnold could compose music which has stood the test of time. His ever popular first set of English Dances for example, was composed not long after he’d been released from an asylum.

The Belles of St Trinian’s (Prelude)
Paul Janes, piano
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Rumon Gamba, conductor

Symphony No 2, Op 40 (Lento)
London Symphony Orchestra
Richard Hickox, conductor

String Quartet No 1, Op 23
Maggini Quartet

Clarinet Sonatina, Op 29
Michael Collins, clarinet
Michael McHale, piano

English Dances Set 1, Op 27
The Philharmonia
Bryden Thomson, 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

Last on

Mon 11 Nov 2019 12:00

Music Played

  • Malcolm Arnold

    The Belles of St Trinian's Suite (Prelude)

    Performer: BBC Philharmonic. Performer: Paul Janes. Conductor: Rumon Gamba.
    • CHANDOS : CHAN9851.
    • CHANDOS.
    • 18.
  • Malcolm Arnold

    Symphony No 2, Op 40 (3rd movement)

    Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Richard Hickox.
    • Chandos CHAN9335 CD1.
    • Chandos.
    • 6.
  • Malcolm Arnold

    String Quartet No 1, Op 23

    Ensemble: Maggini Quartet.
    • Naxos 8557762.
    • Naxos.
    • 1.
  • Malcolm Arnold

    Clarinet Sonatina, Op 29

    Performer: Michael Collins. Performer: Michael McHale.
    • Chandos CHAN10758.
    • Chandos.
    • 1.
  • Malcolm Arnold

    Four English Dances, Set 1, Op 27

    Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra. Conductor: Bryden Thomson.
    • CHANDOS : CHAN8867.
    • CHANDOS.
    • 1.

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