Composer gave his 7th symphony to a workman

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.


share this

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on google
  • 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?

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

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

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • >