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Arnold the People's Composer

Donald Macleod traces Malcolm Arnold's interest in being a composer for the people.

Donald Macleod traces Malcolm Arnold’s own interest in being a composer for the people.

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 journeys through Sir Malcolm Arnold’s life by 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 Arnold’s interest to be a composer for the people, and the music he composed away from the rigidity of the concert hall.

Malcolm Arnold had a passion for Cornwall, and one of his best loved works, The Padstow Lifeboat, was composed for the launching of the new lifeboat in Padstow because the coxswain was a great brass band enthusiast. Arnold also wrote many works for brass bands, including a Fantasy. This was commissioned for the National Brass Band Championships in 1974, and as a test piece, received nineteen first performances at the Royal Albert Hall. Arnold often composed for youth orchestras as well, although his dependence upon alcohol sometimes caused issues when working with young musicians.

The Padstow Lifeboat, Op 94
Grimethorpe Colliery Band
Malcolm Arnold, conductor

Divertimento for flute, oboe and clarinet, Op 37
James Galway, flute
Gareth Hulse, oboe
Antony Pay, clarinet

Little Suite No 1, Op 53
City of London Sinfonia
Richard Hickox, conductor

Fantasy for Brass Band, Op 114
Grimethorpe Colliery Band
Elgar Howarth, conductor

Concerto for Two Violins, Op 77
Igor Gruppman, violin
Vesna Gruppman, violin
San Diego Chamber Orchestra
Donald Barra, 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

3 days left to listen

59 minutes

Music Played

  • Malcolm Arnold

    The Padstow Lifeboat, Op 94

    Ensemble: Grimethorpe Colliery Band. Conductor: Malcolm Arnold.
    • CONIFER : CDCF222.
    • CONIFER.
    • 24.
  • Malcolm Arnold

    Divertimento for flute, oboe and clarinet, Op 37

    Performer: James Galway. Performer: Gareth Hulse. Performer: Antony Pay.
    • RCA 09026688602.
    • RCA 09026688602.
    • 14.
  • Malcolm Arnold

    Little Suite No 1 for orchestra, Op 53

    Orchestra: City of London Sinfonia. Conductor: Richard Hickox.
    • Chandos CHAN9509.
    • Chandos CHAN9509.
    • 1.
  • Malcolm Arnold

    Fantasy for brass band, Op 114

    Ensemble: Grimethorpe Colliery Band. Conductor: Elgar Howarth.
    • CONIFER : CDCF222.
    • CONIFER.
    • 16.
  • Malcolm Arnold

    Concerto for two violins, Op 77

    Performer: Igor Gruppman. Performer: Vesna Gruppman. Orchestra: Orchestra Nova San Diego. Conductor: Donald Barra.
    • KOCH 371342.
    • KOCH 371342.
    • 10.

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