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Composer Interview: MALCOLM ARNOLD

MALCOLM ARNOLD is one of Britain's most famous composers; writing music that shows his thorough understanding of the orchestra and in a style that is tonal and often attractive to a wider audience. He has written over eighty film scores - his most famous being the music for The Bridge on the River Kwai, for which he won an Oscar in 1957. His complete symphonies can be found in Naxos' 5-CD White Box (8.505178), which includes a booklet offering a full essay on each and every work plus an illustration and biography of composer and artists, as well as a chronology, setting events in the composer's own life into a wider msucial and overall historical context.

  1. What have been the most significant moments in your composing life?

  2. I suppose the most important moment for me was when I was able to give up the trumpet and become a composer full time! One of the most special moments in my composing life was when I was commissioned to write the Ballet 'Homage To The Queen' for the Coronation. When I was still playing principal trumpet in the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Edward van Beinum recorded my overture 'Beckus The Dandipratt' (written in 1943 and published by Lengnick) and it became very popular which was another special moment. As I'm sure all composers would agree, it is a real milestone to have your own music recorded on CD, and seeing most of mine (most importantly the Symphonies and my String Quartets which mean so much to me) on CD is a great feeling. Finally, the highpoint of my career has to be when I was honoured by the Queen with a CBE and a Knighthood for my services to music.

  3. Do you prefer writing film music to more conventional 'classical ' music?

  4. Although I enjoyed writing Film Music it was always a means to an end, in that it enabled me to keep a wife and family and write my classical music, which has always been my passion.

  5. Which composers have most influenced your works?

  6. I feel that as a composer, one is influenced by all music. Having said that, I was particularly influenced by Beethoven, Brahms and Berlioz.

  7. In your opinion, is there one Symphony of yours that stands out from the others?

  8. Although, I am proud of all my Symphonies as they all have something special to say, my particular favourite is the Fifth. As the great Mahler expert Donald Mitchell said that if Mahler had written another Symphony, it would have been my Fifth!

  9. Is there a particular piece of advice you would give to young composers writing today?

  10. If I were giving advice to a young composer today it would be to start with small pieces and learn your craft before you attempt to write a symphony! You should always write music that you would want to hear, rather than simply following fashion.


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