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Arnold Cooke was born in November 1906 near Leeds. He was educated at Repton School, later obtaining his BMus at Cambridge University in 1929. From then until 1932 he was a pupil of Hindemith at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin.
After completing his studies, he became Director of Music at the Festival Theatre, Cambridge, and was later appointed Professor of Harmony and Composition at the then Royal Manchester College (now Royal Northern College) of Music from 1933 to 1938. During the war he served with the Royal Navy, and after the termination of hostilities his compositions enjoyed a growing number of performances, chamber music making a particularly strong impression. He took his MusD at Cambridge in 1948, a year after he had been appointed Professor of Harmony and Composition at Trinity College of Music, where he taught for many years.
His compositions, characterised by openness of texture and directness of appeal, have been widely performed. His most important works include the Symphony 1 (1947) first performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir Adrian Boult in March 1949; the Violin Concerto (1958) first performed by Yfrah Neaman and the Halle Orchestra under Sir John Barbirolli in 1959, and the Cello Concerto (1974) first performed in 1975 by Thomas Igloi, and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir Charles Groves.
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