The Company Index
Malcolm Arnold is recognized as one of the most significant British
composers of the twentieth century. Born in Northampton on 21 October
1921, at the age of sixteen he won a scholarship to the Royal College of
Music, London, studying the trumpet with Ernest Hall and composition with
Gordon Jacob. From 1941 to 1948 he held the post of principal trumpet with
the London Philharmonic Orchestra, with the interruption of two years
military service during the war. Although acknowledged as one of the great
trumpeters of the age, the need to express himself through composition
finally demanded 100 precent of his time and from 1948 until the early 1960s
his productivity was at its peak. With commissions pouring in at
an ever-increasing rate; in the mid-fifties, Arnold was often bracketed
with Benjamin Britten and William Walton as one of the most sought-after
of the 'serious' composers in the country. His role as a conductor of
his work, in the concert hall and in film and recording studios, also
increased at this time.
The scale and diversity of Arnold's output is unrivalled among his
generation. Among the catalogue of major concert works to his credit
are nine symphonies, seven ballets, two operas, one musical, over twenty
concertos, two string quartets, and music for brass band and wind band.
In addition, he has written 132 film scores, including some of the finest
works ever composed for the medium: Bridge on the River Kwai,
Inn of the Sixth Happiness, Hobson's Choice, Whistle down the
Wind and David Copperfield.
In 1969 he was made a Bard of the Cornish Gorseth, and was awarded
the CBE in 1970. He holds Honorary Doctorates of Music from Exeter
University (1969), Durham University (1982), and Leicester University
(1984); he was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Music in 1983 and
is an Honorary R.A.M. In 1986 (his 65th year) Arnold received the Ivor
Novello Award for 'Outstanding Services to British Music' and a knighthood
in the 1993 New Year Honours List for his services to music. In 2005 he
was honoured with the Distinguished Musicians Award from the Incorporated
Society of Musicians, in recognition of his contribution to British musical life.
As he approaches his 85th birthday, interest in the composer continues to
grow. In 2004, Tony Palmer's film biopic Toward the Unknown Region was
broadcast on ITV's South Bank Show. In recent years, the composer has also
been the subject of two biographies, by Paul RW Jackson, and Anthony
Meredith and Paul Harris.