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Richard Anthony Sayer ("Tony") Arnell (15 September 1917 – 10 April 2009) was an English composer of classical music. Arnell composed in all the established genres for the concert stage, and his list of works includes six completed symphonies (a seventh was realised by Martin Yates) and six string quartets.[1] At the Trinity College of Music, he "promoted a pioneering interest in film scores and electronic music" and jazz. Electronic composer David Hewson, who worked with him on films including Dilemma (1981), Doctor in the Sky (1984), Toulouse-Lautrec (1986), and The Light of the World (1989), was one of his pupils.[2]


Arnell was born in Hampstead, London. He studied at the Royal College of Music in London from 1935 to 1939, and was taught there by John Ireland (composition) and St John Dykes (piano). He was awarded the Farrar Prize for composition during his final year at the college. At the outset of the Second World War, attending the New York World Fair, Arnell (along with other English composers, e.g. Arthur Bliss) was stranded in New York, and stayed on until 1947, thereby finding himself in the position of having an established reputation in the US, but remaining relatively little known in his homeland. During his American soujourn, Arnell was the Music Supervisor for the BBC in North America, and was commissioned to compose (to a text by Stephen Spender) a cantata, The War God, in celebration of the opening of the United Nations, as well as a fanfare to greet Winston Churchill's arrival in New York.

His music has been championed by Thomas Beecham, Leopold Stokowski and Bernard Herrmann, among others and most recently by Martin Yates (one of his composition students at Trinity). Between 1947 and 1987 he taught at Trinity College of Music in London, where his students included Peter Tahourdin (1949–52).[3]

Arnell composed the music for The Land (1942), a 45-minute documentary film directed by Robert J. Flaherty for the US Department of Agriculture. He was also commissioned by the Ford Motor Company to compose a symphonic suite inspired by the workers in the factory at Dagenham. The resulting work accompanies a film entitled Opus 65. Arnell established and headed the Music Department at the London International Film School until his retirement in the late 1980s.

He established a reputation as a major composer for the ballet stage through collaborations with choreographers of the stature of George Balanchine, John Cranko and Frederick Ashton. His many ballets have been successfully staged in both New York and London. His score for Punch and the Child was recorded by Sir Thomas Beecham with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, a recording which has seldom been out of the catalogue.

All seven of Arnell's numbered symphonies together with the Sinfonia Quasi Variazioni, the Piano Concerto (soloist David Owen Norris), the two Violin Concertos (soloist Lorraine MacAslan), Lord Byron: a Symphonic Portrait, Robert Flaherty Impression, Prelude The Black Mountain and the early Overture The New Age, received their world premiere recordings by conductor Martin Yates and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra between 2005 and 2008. The premiere recordings of the ballets The Angels, Harlequin in April and The Great Detective, together with Punch and the Child, were recorded by Martin Yates and the BBC Concert Orchestra in 2008–09.

Arnell had left sketches for a Seventh Symphony, dedicated to Nelson Mandela, at the time of his death, and it has since been realised and completed by Martin Yates. It was recorded in the summer of 2010 by Yates and the RSNO and was issued by Dutton Epoch. The String Quartets have recently been released on the Dutton Epoch label played by the Tippett Quartet.

Arnell is acknowledged as being one of the most masterful orchestrators of the twentieth century, Sir Thomas Beecham describing him as the best orchestrator since Berlioz.[citation needed]

Selected works[edit]

Orchestral works[edit]

  • Seven numbered symphonies
  • Sinfonia Quasi Variazioni
  • Sinfonia – 1939
  • Symphony for Strings
  • Suite in Six Movements for large orchestra
  • Lord Byron – a Symphonic Portrait
  • Robert Flaherty – Impression
  • Landscapes and Figures
  • Concertos for piano (2), violin (2) and harpsichord
  • Overture, The New Age
  • Overture, 1940
  • Overture (un-titled)
  • Prelude The Black Mountain
  • Overture, The Food of Love
  • Classical Variations (string orchestra)
  • Abstract Forms (string orchestra)
  • Two divertimenti
  • Fantasia for Orchestra
  • Ode to Beecham (with narrator)

Chamber works[edit]

  • Six string quartets
  • String Quintet
  • Piano Trio
  • Piano Quartet
  • Oboe Quintet
  • RVW's Almanac (Clarinet Quartet)
  • Serenade for ten wind instruments and double bass
  • Cassation for wind quintet
  • Two sonatas for violin and piano
  • Variations on an American Theme for violin and piano
  • Sonatina for piano duet
  • Brass Quintet
  • Horn Quartet

Solo works[edit]

  • 2 piano sonatas
  • 2 organ sonatas
  • Variations on Eine Feste Burg for Organ
  • unaccompanied pieces for violin, viola and cello
  • numerous sets of variations for piano solo

Stage works[edit]

  • Punch and the Child (ballet)
  • Harlequin in April (ballet)
  • The Great Detective (ballet)
  • The Angels (ballet)
  • Moonflowers (chamber opera)
  • Love in Transit (chamber opera)
  • The Petrified Princess (puppet opera)

Vocal works[edit]

  • Ode to the West Wind
  • The War God
  • Six Lawrence Songs
  • Con Amore
  • Xanadu
  • Cretaceous Intermission
  • Five Emily Songs

Mixed media (electric/acoustic) works[edit]

  • I Think of all Soft Limbs
  • Nocturne: Prague
  • Astronaut

Film scores[edit]


  1. ^ English Music Festival: Composer profiles. Accessed 27 April 2013
  2. ^ Richard Arnell obituary Richard Arnell: Unjustly neglected composer who has found a new audience through recent recordings by Lewis Foreman 9 May 2009 Independent UK
  3. ^ Australian Music Centre: Peter Tahourdin at 80

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Arnell — Please support Wikipedia.
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12 news items

Thu, 30 Apr 2009 00:00:00 -0700

Arnell's works include seven symphonies and six string quartets, along with concertos, cantatas, solo instrumental works and film scores. He established a reputation as a major composer for the ballet stage through collaborations with choreographers ...
Thu, 09 Apr 2015 16:03:45 -0700

... composer; 1966 Evelyn Waugh, novelist; 1980 Antonia White, journalist and novelist; 2001 Nyree Dawn Porter, actress; 2009 Richard Arnell, composer, conductor, poet, principal lecturer, Trinity School of Music 1981-7; 2010 Dixie Carter, American ...

Audiophile Audition

Audiophile Audition
Wed, 18 Mar 2015 22:37:30 -0700

And it is remarkably consistent over the years, highly lyrical in the best English sense with all the suspect influences (one of his teachers was Richard Arnell), dramatic, engaging, rhythmically enticing, and in possession of a fluidity that is as ...

The Guardian (blog)

The Guardian (blog)
Thu, 28 Aug 2014 09:55:39 -0700

Sir Harrison Birtwistle, whose Sonance Severance won't be broadcast, at least not tonight. Photograph: Graeme Robertson. Susanna Eastburn. Thursday 28 August 2014 12.55 EDT Last modified on Monday 1 September 2014 07.03 EDT. Share on Facebook ...

The Guardian

The Guardian
Fri, 29 Nov 2013 08:07:17 -0800

I decided to restore Napoleon after a widescreen festival at the Odeon Leicester Square in 1968. It was run by Richard Arnell and George Dunning, who animated and directed Yellow Submarine, and they'd got their hands on the last scene, the triptychs.

OUPblog (blog)

OUPblog (blog)
Mon, 10 Feb 2014 00:37:30 -0800

It's big, it's red, and it's here. Valentine's Day strikes fear into the hearts of men and women around the Western world like nothing else can. But you needn't run scared of the Hallmark branded teddy bears. Oh no. Follow the sprinkling of rose petals ...


Wed, 09 Apr 2014 16:03:17 -0700

... and film director. Deaths: 1840 Alexander Nasmyth, Edinburgh-born artist; 1954 Auguste Lumière, pioneer of cinematography; 1966 Evelyn Waugh, novelist; 2009 Richard Arnell, composer, conductor, poet, principal lecturer, Trinity School of Music 1981-7.
Broadway World
Sat, 04 Apr 2009 15:08:07 -0700

Current releases include a series of recordings of the music of Richard Arnell with the RoyAl Scottish National Orchestra in addition to his extensive catalogue of musicals recordings. April 3 marks his first time conducting with The New York Pops and ...

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