Composer gave his 7th symphony to a workman

Composer gave his 7th symphony to a workman


norman lebrecht

April 30, 2016

For the last three decades of his life, the English composer Sir Malcolm Arnold was blocked by various court orders from accessing his own money.

Malcolm had been hospitalised with mental illness and his family were at odds with his personal carer. It appears that he gave his possessions away, either in lieu of payment for goods and services, or because he had a generous heart. The manuscript of his seventh symphony, one of his most successful works, turned up this week on ebay.

I met Malcolm several times. I have racked my memory and my shelves to ascertain whether he gave me anything and I can honestly declare that he never did.

But if he did, would I have refused it? Of course not.

And who knows when I, or my heirs, might have found it necessary to sell it on ebay?

That’s what I find so sad about this story.




If you’ve never heard the 7th symphony, hear this.



  • Robert Holmén says:

    The link doesn’t work.

  • Peter Phillips says:

    The score was sent to Eton college so that people would be able to see it?? I should think that’s one of the last places it could be easily seen. And are there no specialist librarians in other more accessible libraries, the British Library, for instance, in the middle of London?

    • 18mebrumaire says:

      Agreed, an utterly bizarre choice of destination. Surely, the RCM library would be more appropriate and easily accessible.

  • Rob says:

    One of the finest orchestrators in the history of music.

    • ruben greenberg says:

      Malcolm Arnold’s time will come. English music tends to be undemonstrative. Not Malcolm Arnold’s, which is full of emotion.

  • Fritz Curzon says:

    Sorry to say I got paid money for taking the photo on Malcolm’s Music- wouldn’t have minded a spare manuscript in lieu!

  • Michael Shapiro says:

    I studied very briefly with Malcolm at about the time he was writing the Seventh (at Shawnigan Lake in Canada). He’d look at my scores and say there’s nothing I can teach you and then we’d go have a drink.

  • Una says:

    Interesting interview between Bruce Duffie in Chicago and Malcolm Arnold!

  • Una says:

    Very interesting transcribed interview between Malcolm Arnold and Bruce Duffie in Chicago.

  • Russell Platt says:

    I’ve always had great respect for Arnold. His music reflects the world of Shostakovich, Weill, Bernard Herrmann, and the popular music and movies of his time. Yet his voice is his own, his craftsmanship diamond-hard. I wonder, though, if, beyond a few band pieces, his work will ever make it in the U.S.