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Sir Malcolm Arnold (1921-2006)


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Author Topic: Sir Malcolm Arnold (1921-2006)  (Read 2028 times)
Albion
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Frederic Cowen (1852-1935)


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« on: August 18, 2012, 06:50:59 pm »

Highlights of the 2012 MA Festival will include the first (semi-) staged performance of the opera The Dancing Master (the BBC recording of which is in the archive) and concert performances of the ballets Sweeney Todd, Electra and Homage to the Queen ...

http://malcolmarnoldfestival.com/events.htm

 Grin
« Last Edit: October 20, 2021, 02:08:54 pm by Albion » Report Spam   Logged

"A piece is worth your attention, and is itself for you praiseworthy, if it makes you feel you have not wasted your time over it." (Sydney Grew, 1922)

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jimfin
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« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2012, 01:15:36 am »

Oh, this is wonderful! I really enjoyed the broadcast of "The Dancing Master": well, I always enjoy Arnold. But opera is always the most neglected part of anyone's output, so great to see it being done! I only wish I could hop on a flight from Tokyo to see it!
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Neil McGowan
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« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2012, 01:29:32 pm »

The Guardian has a write-up of the Dancing Master premiere.
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Albion
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« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2014, 10:03:33 am »

Here is a very useful short introduction to Arnold's magnificent 7th Symphony, Op.113 (1973) - http://malcolmarnold.co.uk/news_main.html

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"A piece is worth your attention, and is itself for you praiseworthy, if it makes you feel you have not wasted your time over it." (Sydney Grew, 1922)
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« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2014, 01:59:02 pm »

Here is a very useful short introduction to Arnold's magnificent 7th Symphony, Op.113 (1973) - http://malcolmarnold.co.uk/news_main.html

 Smiley

A fascinating short film about a fascinating symphony.......and one which I have written about on here before:

http://artmusic.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,3364.msg17737.html#msg17737

This now impels me to send a copy of the post linked above to Piers Burton-Page who talks about the symphony in the film, is of course Arnold's biographer and a reviewer for IRR.
I woud love to get Burton-Pages's comments on the point I made Smiley
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Albion
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« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2014, 05:49:13 pm »

As a self-confessed Arnold addict, I was more than pleased to come across no less than four immensely valuable publications about which, until this week, I knew nothing (all issued by Queen's Temple Publications) -

1. Composers on the 9 - http://www.qtpublications.co.uk/spweb/details.php?catno=QT125

2. Malcolm Arnold in Words - http://www.qtpublications.co.uk/spweb/details.php?catno=QT124

3. Malcolm Arnold: a life in pictures - http://www.qtpublications.co.uk/spweb/details.php?catno=QT101

4. Strings, Winds, Pipes, Pianos & Food - http://www.qtpublications.co.uk/spweb/details.php?catno=QT140

Happy days!

 Grin
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« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2014, 10:23:06 am »

I recall after the premiere of Arnold's 7th, one critic wrote that while the sound of the cowbell was meant to symbolise hope, it actually sounded more like the summons to the communal feeding trough. I fear I agree. If Stokowski were still around, and had to conduct it, I suspect he would replace the cowbell with a tubular bell, just as in the finale of Tchaikovsky's Manfred symphony he replaced the harmonium with full organ - which actually works much better.
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« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2014, 12:20:21 am »

I recall after the premiere of Arnold's 7th, one critic wrote that while the sound of the cowbell was meant to symbolise hope, it actually sounded more like the summons to the communal feeding trough. I fear I agree. If Stokowski were still around, and had to conduct it, I suspect he would replace the cowbell with a tubular bell, just as in the finale of Tchaikovsky's Manfred symphony he replaced the harmonium with full organ - which actually works much better.
[/quote
The cowbell was meant to signify hope?? Really? Perhaps a piccolo could represent the triumph of the "human spirit"
The "critic" who said it is best left anonymous.
That is a very interesting fact about Manfred, which is a magnificent piece IMHO..I'll have to listen to different renderings, were they just for the Stokowski performances?
Now I'm wondering what other pieces have the "wrong" instrument in a prime spot.
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« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2014, 08:57:40 am »

Now I'm wondering what other pieces have the "wrong" instrument in a prime spot.

It's an interesting question. I know there are many who like to think of the composer's score as a holy text, but in truth, there are cases where the composer aguably got it wrong and has to be corrected. The most celebrated example is whether to add a cymbal clash at the climax of the slow movement of Bruckner 7. It IS possible to bring the climax off without it, but very difficult.
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Jolly Roger
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« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2014, 06:47:48 pm »

Now I'm wondering what other pieces have the "wrong" instrument in a prime spot.

It's an interesting question. I know there are many who like to think of the composer's score as a holy text, but in truth, there are cases where the composer aguably got it wrong and has to be corrected. The most celebrated example is whether to add a cymbal clash at the climax of the slow movement of Bruckner 7. It IS possible to bring the climax off without it, but very difficult.

yes, I wish I could be more specific...but there are times when I have been let down after a very convincing development. Perhaps that is why some works are much more convincing after a master craftsman has reworked them.
Respighi reworking Rossini especially comes to mind.
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Albion
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« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2014, 09:17:12 pm »

The more I listen to Arnold, the more I'm firmly convinced that he was one of the twentieth-century's greatest composers -

Symphony No.4 (1960) - especially the finale

Concerto for Piano (Three-hands) (1969)

Symphony No.7 (1973)

etc., etc.,

Fabulous!

 Grin

Anybody who writes Arnold off as 'light' in a pejorative sense is a bona fide moron ....

 Grin
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« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2014, 02:03:19 am »

I recall after the premiere of Arnold's 7th, one critic wrote that while the sound of the cowbell was meant to symbolise hope, it actually sounded more like the summons to the communal feeding trough.

I'm not sure, I rather like the cowbell. It makes those climaxes sound much more forced, contributing to the symphony's unsettling mix of mania and despair. (Never thought of the 7th as a particularly hopeful piece...) I might replace it with an anvil or brake drum if a replacement had to be made, but I don't think a tubular bell would work nearly as well.
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« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2014, 02:28:03 am »

The more I listen to Arnold, the more I'm firmly convinced that he was one of the twentieth-century's greatest composers -

Symphony No.4 (1960) - especially the finale

Concerto for Piano (Three-hands) (1969)

Symphony No.7 (1973)

etc., etc.,

Fabulous!

 Grin

Anybody who writes Arnold off as 'light' in a pejorative sense is a bona fide moron ....

 Grin

The criticism of Arnold which I have read (and to risk the ire and indignation of Mr. Hinton I shall not quote my source Grin) says that he was..

"a prolific, sometimes brilliant and often depressingly banal composer totally out of touch with the developments of the second half of the 20th century.His orchestral command is sometimes powerful enough to have an infectious sparkle, but he writes in an idiom whose basis is so anachronistic that-apart from the music written for pure entertainment, which carries its own built-in purpose-it seems to have little relevance."

This was written in 1996 by someone whose musical judgments are-in the main- extremely sound (although he is not enthusiastic about either Tubin or Robert Simpson either Sad)

"Banal", "anachronistic", "little relevance" Huh Huh

The first of these is a value judgment, open to argument and debate.

The second and third however leave me perplexed. Is it a requirement of a composer's music that it must demonstrate that it is in touch in some way with the most contemporary of musical developments Huh What does "relevance" mean in this context Huh "Relevant" to whom or to to what Huh The music of, say the Seventh or Eighth Symphonies, is clearly relevant to Arnold himself as the composer. If the music has an aesthetic appeal to the listener then it surely has "relevance" for him or her also, does it not Huh And if that is true then the "relevance" to anybody else, whether musicologist or critic is of infinitely lesser importance.

"Bona fide moron" Huh Well, that is John's phrase, not mine Grin Whether you think it is "moronic" to criticise a composer for composing "irrelevant music" is up to you. But I could certainly produce a very long list of composers who might well be deemed to have composed "irrelevant music". The fact that most of it happens to include many of my favourite pieces of music must make my musical tastes, judgments and opinions "irrelevant" too Roll Eyes
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« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2014, 03:32:45 am »

While I am not gaga about some of Malcolm Arnold's lighter music and generally agree with it being banal at times, I do not think the rest of the critique was worth seeing the light of day. It was not objective and was the kind of elitist inflammatory rhetoric that discourages further conversation.
Some of Arnolds music is excellent, esp the symphonies..but like most prolifics, the music written by popular demand was much less inspired IMHO.
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« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2014, 08:03:17 am »

Is it a requirement of a composer's music that it must demonstrate that it is in touch in some way with the most contemporary of musical developments Huh

According to most critics and theorists, apparently yes. However, this involves the assumption that the main stream of musical development in the last century was via Schonberg and Boulez, with composers like Arnold as a backwater. Seems to me that, looking back in a hundred years time, it will seem the reverse is true.

Incidentally, it's curious that no-one ever levels the same criticisms against Britten or Shostakovich.

Oh, and I do think Arnold's 4th symphony is his greatest.
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