Death of Sir Malcom Arnold

Discussion in 'Obituaries - Unregistered visitors can post here' started by bassinthebathroom, Sep 23, 2006.

  1. bassinthebathroom

    bassinthebathroom Active Member

    The news has just broken of the death of Sir Malcolm Arnold, aged 84.

    What a terrible loss to the music world this is, and in particular for us in the Brass Band world. Sir Malcolm Arnold was, as I'm sure you are all aware, a prolific composer of works, both light and serious, for band, and always a staunch supporter of the medium. For many years he resided in Cornwall, near to Padstow much of the time, and is well known to 'banders' for his march The Padstow Lifeboat. A festival of his music to celebrate his 85th birthday, which would have been in a little under a month from now, had been held during this year, in various parts of Cornwall, involving many youth ensembles from the county, including the Youth Orchestras and Brass Band.
    I have many happy memories of his music, and as a learning composer drew much from it. I, for one, am saddened to think that the opportunity for one more great work has passed.
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2006
  2. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Sorry to hear this ... he was such a colourful character in his lifetime!
  3. andyp

    andyp Active Member

    Southport, Lancashire
    I still think the middle movement of his "Little Suite No 1", the "Siciliano", is one of the best examples of a simple, yet beautiful piece of music.

    Definitely one of the great modern composers.
  4. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    I agree that the loss of Malcolm Arnold is a huge one in the music world. I often feel that his contribution to British Music has gone somewhat unnoticed in some circles and that the true value of his music may only be fully appreciated now, which is a great shame.

    He was a composer who bluntly refused to fit into a pigeon-hole. On one hand his music could be light-hearted, witty and vibrant. On the other, his music could be dissonant and challenging, but there was one thing which remained constant; every note he wrote down was totally sincere.

    Arnold was a for many years a troubled man, battling manic depression and alcoholism. It was perhaps for this reason he was often overlooked by the musical establishment in favour of more easily typecast composers, such as Peter Maxwell Davies or Harry Birtwistle. We often shy away from something we cannot fathom out immediately, and I think that Malcolm Arnold's music has suffered as a result of narrow-mindedness.

    I think that the least the musical establishment could do now is to back a major retrospective of Arnold's life and works, including, of course, his brass band output!
  5. Morgans Bach

    Morgans Bach Member

    Ffestiniog / Bangor
    I couldn't agree more with Duncan's statements above; a wonderfully diverse composer, and a huge loss indeed. Just read a bit more about his life; I never knew that he conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in the recording of Deep Purple's Concerto for Group and Orchestra!
  6. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Hadleigh, Essex
    I was privileged to attend Grimethorpe's South Bank concert as part of Malcolm Arnold's 80th birthday festival, and that was a tremendous evening, attended by many who were unfamiliar with his music for brass, and who were amazed at the standard of the band.

    Arnold was indeed a composer who was often overlooked, and bears a number of similarities with George Lloyd in that respect. He was the consumate professional, who seemed to understand the requirements of whatever forces he was using, and who seemed to show a great affection for music, albeit often tinged with touches of pathos and poignancy. For those interested in his wider output, the Naxos series of the nine symphonies is well worth exploring, as are the Chandos recordings of the film music.

    I think if I had to pick one particular work of Arnold's, it would probably have to be the Concerto for Two Pianos (Three Hands), in turn fiery and exuberant, and then introspective and tinged with nostalgia.
  7. Jacob Larsen

    Jacob Larsen Member

    Stavanger - Norway
    Sad news... He was a great composer of our time.. I have played and conducted many of his pieces and have always enjoyed his special musical spirit.. But he will live on in our mind and through his wonderful music..
  8. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    Leeds - Yorkshire - UK
    What a sad loss.
    I recall him conducting the Yorkshire Schools Band at a concert in the early/mid 1960's which featured both his Brass Band Suites, and he worked so well with the youngsters.
    His personal charisma and musicality inspired them to produce a performance of memorable musical merit.
    Another Brass Legend who put a lot back into the movement that nurtured him, and the profession that sustained him.
    - Wilky
  9. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    Leeds - Yorkshire - UK
    I must say though, that his 4 Scottish Dances had me practicing the EEb Bass part for quite some time !!!
    - Wilky
  10. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Well-Known Member

    Farnham, Surrey, UK
    A great loss to the British Music establishment.

    I had the privilege of playing under Sir Malcolm a couple of times and found him very encouraging - even when something had not gone quite perfect he ended the run through with "that's JUST how I wanted it, it will be superb this evening."

    This gives a great excuse to dig out the Concerto and Fantasy - wonderful pieces that deserve to be played a great deal more.

    RIP Sir Malcolm - Vastly under-rated - a contemporary composer who believed in a good tune.
  11. scotchgirl

    scotchgirl Active Member

    What a sad loss...he was a fantastic and wonderful composer, we had Siciliano at our wedding as it is one of my all time favourite pieces of music.

  12. ian perks

    ian perks Active Member

    West Midlands
    A true composer who wrote some great music i played his Little Suite For Brass No 1 and won with it in a Junior Band Ensemble contest in 1977 by 8 points.
    2nd Movement such so super and relaxing to play.
    I have got Grimethorpes CD playing his music just brilliant all of them
  13. drummerboy

    drummerboy Member

    Death of Malcolm Arnold

    Not a great surprise really, considering how ill he was, but sad nonetheless.
    I feel quite priviledged to have performed his Symphony Number 1 in his presence.
    Undoubtedly an under-appreciated genius.
  14. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    One of those composers, like George Lloyd, who cared not for fashion, trends or the latest theories in musical composition. Malcolm Arnold wrote music that was designed to be useful - Gebrauchsmusik, utility music in its truest sense- to be played, listened to and enjoyed by all levels of musical ability. Music that came from a true and honest place, and spoke directly to its audience in a way that some music by more celebrated and successful contemporary composers could never achieve.

    In the post-war era, when the musical firmament was filled with charlatans wearing the emperor's new clothes, Malcolm Arnold and a few others kept their feet firmly on the ground with the mass audience. Few composers will be mourned as much by the amateur music fraternities.
  15. Robin Norman

    Robin Norman Member

    Huntingdon, Cambs.
    When I saw the news last night the mood in my house turned very sombre, especially as his death was less than a month before his 85th birthday.

    I have been priviledged to have met and worked with Sir Malcolm on many occasions as a player, a conductor and within my professional life in the music publishing industry. In my opinion he was the last 'great' British orchestral composer of his generation. Highly under-rated by the 'snobbish' orchestral world his music had life, energy and, when needed, a humour that has been un-matched by anybody else. To think that the same person composed the soundtrack to 'Whistle Down the Wind' as well as the 'Grand Grand Festival Overture' (for 3 vacuum cleaners, 1 floor polisher and Orchestra), in my opinion, defines a true genius.

    As with all historical geniuses his private life was troubled but that has been over-reported and I don't want to dwell on that now. I remember his passion for all music, but particularly youth music, and he would always do anything he could to promote youth. His energy and love of all things musical, even in his most troubled times, is something that I hope will stay with me throughout my musical life.

    RIP 'Sir Malc', may your legacy be your music for many generations to come.:clap:

    TIMBONE Active Member

    I woke this morning in an hotel, feeling a little jaded at having not done better in the Nationals. This however was soon put into perspective when I heard on the news that Sir Malcolm Arnold has finally 'gone home'. Like many an artististic genius from before, he may well become more alive as the establishment/media make it possible for more people to discover both the happiness and the depth in his music. When that news programme played a little of his beautiful music to the film "Whistle Down the Wind", I shed a tear.
  17. Straightmute

    Straightmute Active Member

    We played Siciliano in rehearsal this evening as a tribute to Sir Malcolm and will make sure it is included in our next programme. Trumpeter, conductor, composer - what a guy!
  18. Alan Fernie

    Alan Fernie Member

    Scottish Borders
    A very early orchestral suite of mine, in the late 70's, was described by a rather snooty reviewer in the Glasgow Herald as being " like a love-child of Resphigi and
    Malcolm Arnold". I think he meant it to hurt, but I took it as an enormous compliment, and I think so many of us band writers can count the great man as an influence, conscious or not.

    I recently caught "Whistle Down the Wind" on the telly one afternoon; that tune made me cry..... and where else do you think I got the idea to call a few of my pieces "...... Dances"!
  19. andywooler

    andywooler Supporting Member

    Sad news indeed - by a strange coincidence, I got out Fantasy for Brass Band last thursday - imho, not played often enough at contests, it has some sublime melodies. (as of course is the siciliano).
    Not forgetting his fine Quintet for Brass.
  20. Texus

    Texus Member

    Sadness for the departure of a true genius - from the outstanding works for bands and junior orchestras to the might of the symphonies. Hopefully he might get some of the recognition that he deserves.
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