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Malcolm Arnold

Publisher: Novello & Co

Symphony No 2 (1953)
Paterson Publications
Sub Category
Large Orchestra
Year Composed
30 Minutes
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Programme Note
Malcolm Arnold Symphony No 2 (1953)
Sir Malcolm Arnold’s Second Symphony was commissioned by the Winter Garden’s Society, Bournemouth, and is dedicated to Charles Groves and the Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra, “in celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of the orchestra”; they gave the first performance on 25th May 1953. The composer himself says of this symphony:

“The work is in E flat, the movement rising successively by a major third in tonality, so that the final movement is back in the home key again (i.e. 1. E flat, 2. G minor, 3. B minor, 4. E flat).

1. Allegretto
The first movement is in sonata form – first subject on the solo clarinet, second subject on the flute and oboe in A major. In the recapitulation, the first subject is played by the wind only and the strings join in with the second subject in the tonic key of E flat. The three chords which open the movement play an important part in the general scheme, from accompanying the first subject to making up a melodic passage on their own. If this movement expresses the quiet joy of being alive on a fine summer’s day, then it is successful.

2. Vivace
The Second movement, a scherzo, could be called a variation on two chords (B flat – G – F sharp – D: C – A – E – C sharp) which are stated by the four horns in the first few bars.

3. Lento
The third movement is elegiac in character and builds up to a slow march played by the wind only. The quiet but insistent tolling of a bell is of importance throughout the movement.

4. Allegro con brio
The last movement is based on two themes and is very light-hearted. The first is a gay dance introduced by the woodwind; the second is played by the brass in three-part counterpoint.

  • Ensemble
    National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland
    Andrew Penny
  • Ensemble
    Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
    Sir Charles Groves
  • Ensemble
    London Symphony Orchestra
    Richard Hickox
  • Ensemble
    Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    Vernon Handley
  • Ensemble
    Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/ BBC Concert Orchestra
    Vernon Handley
    Conifer Records Limited:
  • Ensemble
    Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra / Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra / Philharmonia Orchestra
    Malcolm Arnold
    EMI Classics:
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