Repertoire Search

Malcolm Arnold

Publisher: Novello & Co

A Grand, Grand Overture (1956)
Written for the 1956 Hoffnung Music Festival
Work Notes
For 3 Vacuum Cleaners, 1 Floor Polisher, 4 Rifles and Orchestra
Paterson Publications
Sub Category
Large Orchestra
Year Composed
8 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
3 vacuum cleaners, 1 floor polisher, 4 rifles
Buy this work
Worldwide Sales   North American Sales

Programme Note
Malcolm Arnold A Grand, Grand Overture (1956)
Malcolm Arnold’s A Grand, Grand Overture was written for the first of the celebrated Hoffnung Concerts, held in the Royal Festival Hall, London, on 13 November 1956. Those who were involved in the performance, among them Sam Wanamaker and John Amis, have left unforgettable pictures of the rehearsals, with hard-bitten professionals helpless with laughter as they witnessed the birth of one of music’s most celebrated practical jokes. For the Overture is scored for full symphony orchestra and organ – and three vacuum cleaners, a floor polisher and four rifles, which at the climax of the piece viciously silence their heavy-breathing rivals. The work is also larded with many horrendous juxtapositions of key, and with an insanely prolonged coda – and as if all this were not enough, the main theme of the Overture is one of Arnold’s most inspired tunes ever.

© Piers Burton-Page

  • Ensemble
    Just Rentals Cory Band
  • Ensemble
    Morley College Symphony Orchestra
    Sir Malcolm Arnold
  • Ensemble
    Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / Philharmonia Orchestra
    Malcolm Arnold / Robert Irving
  • Ensemble
    Philharmonia Orchestra
    Michael Massey
  • Ensemble
    Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    Vernon Handley
  • Ensemble
    BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
    Rumon Gamba
  • Ensemble
    Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / BBC Concert Orchestra / London Philharmonic Orchestra / London Musici / Grimethorpe Colliery Band / Philip Jones Brass Ensemble
    Benjamin Frith, piano
    Vernon Handley / Sir Adrian Boult / Mark Stephenson / Sir Malcolm Arnold / Elgar Howarth
    Conifer Records Limited:
  • Ensemble
    BBC Philharmonic
    Rumon Gamba
  • 29 FEB 2020
    Auditorio de Getafe / Granada / Spain
    Joven Orquesta Sinfónica de Granada
    Edmon Levon, conductor
  • 21 MAR 2020
    The Scott Center for Performing Arts, Melbourne, FL
    Space Coast Symphony Orchestra
    Aaron Collins, conductor

    Other Dates:
    22 March - Vero Beach High School Performing Arts Center, Vero Beach, FL

The death of Sir Malcolm Arnold last month transformed the closing concert of the Arnold Festival in Northampton, planned to mark the composer’s 85th birthday, into a celebration of his life and music. Arnold’s A Grand, Grand Overture lived up to its title with mock-heroic gestures and a wildly protracted coda. The score requires vacuum cleaners and a floor polisher, but what lifts the overture is the radiant presence of one of Arnold’s most affecting “big tunes”. [...] In tribute to Arnold’s versatility and achievement, the RPO played with passion and commitment, and the audience’s enthusiastic reception was a reminder of how this composer never lost faith in the power of communication
Paul Conway, The Independent,30/10/2006
Close X

Newsletter Signup

Enter your email address to keep up to date with the latest news and special offers from Music Sales Classical.
Your data is secure and you can unsubscribe at any time. Read our Privacy Policy

Click here to receive regular news
© Copyright 2020 Music Sales Classical. Part of the Music Sales Group.