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Malcolm Arnold

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.

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