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Malcolm Arnold

Publisher: Novello & Co

Symphony No 4 (1960)
Paterson Publications
Sub Category
Large Orchestra
Year Composed
36 Minutes

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Programme Note
Malcolm Arnold Symphony No 4 (1960)
1. Allegro
2. Vivace ma non troppo
3. Andantino
4. Con fuoco

This symphony is in four movements, and is composed for a normal symphony orchestra, a celesta, harp, and extra percussion instruments which have been used for years in West Indian and South American popular music.

The first movement is based on three main ideas; the first one is the very simple idea of an ascending and descending scale in contrary motion, first heard as the accompaniment to the first subject, which is in the Lydian mode, with its sharpened sub-dominant, and a scale which has no name, but has a sharpened sub-dominant and a flattened leading note, plays an important part in the development of the movement. The second subject is in the major scale, and is accompanied by a rhythmic figure in 8/8 time where the quavers are divided into 3 plus 2 plus 3. It should not be necessary to describe the design of this movement, which is in normal sonata form, which tries to be as direct as possible at first hearing.

The second movement is a scherzo which is more chromatic than is usual in my music, believing, as I do, that excessive chromaticism is the most devitalising dead end in the music of the last sixty years. This movement is not intended to arouse emotions that are necessarily pleasant.

The third movement is a lyrical movement based on two themes.

The last movement is a rondo, the rondo subject being in the form of a fugal exposition in the Lydian mode, alternating with the nameless scale used in the first movement.

© Sir Malcolm Arnold

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