[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Sunday, 24 September 2006, 04:49 GMT 05:49 UK
Composer Sir Malcolm Arnold dies
Sir Malcolm Arnold
Sir Malcolm Arnold was most famous for his film scores
British composer Sir Malcolm Arnold has died in hospital after a brief illness at the age of 84.

Sir Malcolm, who won an Oscar for the musical score to the Bridge on the River Kwai film in 1958, was suffering from a chest infection.

He is most famous for his film scores, composing 132 including Whistle Down the Wind and Hobson's Choice.

Sir Malcolm, who lived near Norwich, also composed seven ballets, nine symphonies and two operas.

Sir Malcolm, one of the most famous composers of the 20th Century, leaves behind two sons and one daughter.

He died at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital.

Sir Malcolm, you could be responsible for my lifelong love of real music
Kath, UK

Anthony Day, his companion and carer for the last 23 years, praised Sir Malcolm as "the most wonderful man".

"People didn't see the man that I knew because he had frontal lobe dementia over the last few years which slowly developed but, being with him, he was a happy, lovely man who enjoyed his music and enjoyed his life," he told BBC News.

Mr Day also paid tribute to Sir Malcolm's achievement in winning an Oscar for Bridge on the River Kwai.

"They couldn't find anybody else to do the music in time because they wanted to release it to the Oscars," Mr Day said.

"They gave him 10 days and he managed to write the complete score in 10 days."

He was a happy, lovely man who enjoyed his music and enjoyed his life
Anthony Day

Cellist Julian Lloyd Webber described Sir Malcolm as a "genius" who was never entirely appreciated.

He said: "I think he was a very, very great composer but uneven in his output.

"Because he had humour in his music he was never fully appreciated by the classical establishment."

Lord Attenborough, the director and actor, said Sir Malcolm was a "totally outstanding composer".

Sir Malcolm's music continues to be performed and recorded extensively by leading orchestras both nationally and internationally.

He was awarded the CBE in 1970.

Saturday night was the premier of his version of the Three Musketeers at the Alhambra in Bradford.

The performance, which was dedicated to him, went ahead as planned.


Your tributes:

The world is silent tonight, we have lost one of the "birds" of freedom.. fly with the music you composed and delight the spirit world! Fly! Thank you for your compositions!
julian, Monmouth

I lived in England in the early sixties and was exposed to BBC radio and to Sir Malcolm Arnold's music and will always remember that time with a great love.
Lavonne Morrell, Gold Beach, Oregon USA

I was at school in the 70s, all the composers we studied in music lessons were dead except this guy. RIP Sir Malcolm, you could be responsible for my lifelong love of real music.
Kath, UK

As one of Malcolm's biographers I got to know him very well in his final years. In spite of his shameful treatment by the music critics who berated him for being popular, he lived to see virtually all of his output recorded and what is more selling well! More than any other composer I have known, the music was the man. He may no longer be with us but listen to his music to know what we have lost.
Paul RW Jackson, Winchester, Hampshire

Malcolm Arnold was one of the greatest symphonists that this country has been fortunate to have had. He combined excellent technique with a vast amount of humour (humour is a difficult object to achieve in music, unless one wishes to indulge in pure pastiche), to create symphonies and other works that will last. Arnolds technique included extremely subtle tonality and key-play within this framework, along with highly original orchestration that is challenging to play (I played French Horn in amateur orchestras and brass bands, and have played in some of Arnolds works). The humour, I feel, was not an attempt to cock a snook at the musical Establishment, rather it was an expression of a man, a vital man and an insouciant man, confident in his own abilities and not one who fawned on approval, who lived, breathed and sweated music, and was not worried if the sweat produced a bit of a stink.
Steve Robey, Harwich UK

A composer of great courage, who stuck to his principles despite the fashionable barrage of atonality. Of composers born in the 1920's, virtually all gave in to the pressure of the establishment. Malcolm Arnold stood firm, and he alone kept the flame of classical music alive until a younger generation came along to breathe new life into the genre once more. Good though his film music is, his concert music is his real contribution. Among many works, maybe the Second and fifth Symphonies stand out, together with many of the concertos. He paid a terrible price for standing firm against the tyranny of the establishment, but all who care about serious music should be grateful to him for helping contemporary serious music to survive to our day.
Michael Holley, Goring on Thames, Reading, UK

Sir Malcolm was a unique voice in dramatic and concert work, with a distinctive bittersweet yet tingling way with his harmony and orchestration. He was a great musical satirist and educator too, a tonal 'people's composer' who nonetheless never dumbed-down. He also weathered the vortex of many personal challenges in his inner and outer life. His music increasingly appeals and will continue to do so, no doubt outlasting the canards of a musical establishment who frequently underrated him.
William McCrum, Templepatrick, N. Ireland

When I read the news I took the score for the Symphony No.6 from my shelf, the first major score by Malcolm Arnold I ever studied, which I still regard fondly. In America, his legacy will certainly be kept alive in his marvellous compositions for wind ensemble, whose orchestrations never cease to amaze. He will be missed.
Bill Sisson, Onalaska, Wisconsin, United States

I became enamoured of Sir Malcolm's music when in college in Wisconsin in the early 1980s. I was classical music director of the local 10 watt radio station, and a couple who were patrons and supplemented our meagre budget had me over to listen to their $20,000 system at various times. It was on one of those occasions that I heard my first Lyrita recording. It was Malcolm Arnold's "Dances," and after that I bought every recording of his works I could lay my hands on, and I was never disappointed. He may not have been as well known or widely appreciated by Americans in general, but among those of us who appreciate the wonders of 20th Century British Classical, his name has always been a standout. He will be missed.
Victor Davis, Napa, California, USA

"Four Cornish Dances" - Shivers down me spine - Especially the march where it pictures walking down to the chapel on a Sunday morn, Methodist style with the sea in the background and a pint of cider waiting at the bar... In fact all of his dances.... Genius...
Gaz, Manchester

Whistle Down the Wind, Inn of the Sixth Happiness, Bridge over the River Kwai, Hobson's Choice... these films were the soundtrack of my 1970s childhood. Rainy Sunday afternoons in front of the television watching some of the best films ever made, brilliantly enhanced by his wonderful scores. Malcolm, thank you and God Bless you.
David Challinor, Reigate, Surrey

A great composer has passed away. Not only was he a true genius of a composer, but also conductor on terrific scores like Battle of Britain. May he rest in peace.
Joep de Bruijn, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

It was, and still is, as a fan of Deep Purple that brought the name of Sir Malcolm Arnold to my attention in the early 1970's. It was his sterling work and willingness to experiment and encourage other young Composers and Musicians in other 'fields' of Music which gained him my utmost respect. Much respected by the Band and Fans alike he was an innovator of what would follow. In 1999 Deep Purple re-created their "Concerto for Group and Orchestra" at the Royal Albert Hall where Sir Malcolm Arnold had originally helped Deep Purple bring it all to life in 1970. Although he was unable to attend on either of the two Nights of recording due to illness, his presence was felt in every respect. Jon Lord's dedication to Sir Malcolm at the time said it all.
Trevor McKinstry, Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland

Malcolm Arnold was due to celebrate his 85th birthday this autumn with the first festival dedicated to his work in Northampton. I hope he will be smiling to know of the pleasure his music is giving to audiences in a celebration which will now no doubt be dedicated to his life and wonderfully colourful music.
Claire Dunham, Manchester, England

Anyone who has ever watched What the Papers Say on TV will be familiar with his suite of English Dances.
Kevin, Liverpool

Some eight years ago I was standing on the steps of Dunstan Hall outside Norwich holding a guitar case when an elderly man walking with a stick and a young companion came up the steps. The older man spoke to me and I misheard him so I asked the young man what he had said - he replied 'he asked if you were playing tonight and hoped you would enjoy your music' - I later discovered that he was Sir Malcolm and was amazed he would stop and wish a semi-pro rock musician well! Rock on Sir Malcolm!
John Knowles, Norwich UK

An extremely fine craftsman of music who suffered unjustified neglect during this life. Time will tell whether it is Arnold's music or that of his Serialist detractors that continues to be played and enjoyed by the public. A crime that he wasn't celebrated and better commissioned - the BBC and Arts Council should hang their heads in shame.
Matthew Woolhouse, Cambridge

One of the last true links with what most people think of as 'Englishness' in music is gone. And with him a great artist, much misunderstood and maligned by the progressive musical establishments of the day during his lifetime. I think of him as the John Betjeman of British music, a people's composer, one with total integrity, originality and professionalism, and to those who take the trouble of exploring his music more deeply will be revealed unmistakeable genius.
Adrian Williams, Hereford, England

Now at last he will get the recognition from the serious music community he certainly deserved.
Daniel Robinson, London

I am a member of the Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra, of whom Sir Malcolm Arnold is the patron. We performed a concert entirely comprising the works of Arnold earlier this year to celebrate his 85th birthday. We are also to perform Peterloo overture and A Grand Grand Festival Overture amongst other pieces at a charity concert at Symphony Hall this coming Wednesday 27th September. Personally I love playing Arnold's music and feel that his passing will be greatly felt in our orchestra.
Jo Stubbs, Birmingham, West Midlands

Though we mourn the very sad loss of Sir Malcolm today we must celebrate, the unique and wonderful legacy of his music left to us. Sir Malcolm touched everyone who listened to his music, as he wrote in a very personal yet public manner. Never, ever frightened of writing a 'good tune', his music was full of his humanity, warmth and most importantly fun. We should be all very thankful that Sir Malcolm was given to us and we must all celebrate his birthday this year as he would have wanted with lots of concerts of his wonderful music. God bless Sir Malcolm and many, many thanks to Anthony Day for his untiring help and support to Sir Malcolm in his last years.
Lawrie Dunn, Burnham on Sea, Somerset

A true gent of music who has left a great legacy. From wonderful film music to the inspired Guitar Concerto he will be sadly missed but forever remembered.
John Elliott, York, Uk

Sir Malcolm Arnold was president of Rochdale Youth Orchestra, and until they left to go to university, my two youngest daughters played in it for several years. I was always impressed that Sir Malcolm took on the patronage of what would seem to many to be an insignificant, small town orchestra. He attended many concerts in spite of age and failing health, and that never failed to impress me, that a world renowned musician and composer would take the trouble to do that. I think that he was an innovative and interesting composer, and I am sorry to hear of his passing.
Sonia Wilson, Rochdale, England

One of my fondest memories of the Proms was of Malcolm Arnold conducting Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra. He was almost bent double coaxing the most out of the orchestra - no mean feat for a man of his physique - and clearly having a wonderful time himself. As, indeed, were we Prommers!
David Brooks, Redmond, WA, 98053

I was fortunate enough to meet Malcolm Arnold a number of years' ago when the BBC Philharmonic were performing some of his works. I remember his almost equal pride over his extremely "loud" ties and the fact that few critics had noticed that a movement in his (I think) sixth symphony had been composed in strict serialist mode. A warm, witty and funny man who leaves an astonishing and under-rated body of work. Though his film scores were wonderful, we should not forget the quality of his concert music.
Steve Rouse, Manchester, England

I am a supporter/staff member of Rochdale Youth Orchestra, of which Sir Malcolm was the president. We are sorry to hear of his passing.
Sian, Rochdale, Lancs

I am a clarinettist who has played some of Malcolm Arnold's work ... which is some of the most challenging and yet most rewarding I have worked on. He was a great composer and knew my instrument well.
Eleanor Smith, Edinburgh

I don't know of anyone who cannot whistle the theme to Bridge Over the River Kwai. What an achievement to do the whole score in 10 days! A truly amazing man.
Helen Kohn, Mountain View, California, United States






FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific