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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
Publisher
Paterson Publications
Category
Orchestra
Sub Category
Large Orchestra
Year Composed
1956
Duration
8 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
3 vacuum cleaners, 1 floor polisher, 4 rifles


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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
    Bandleader:
  • Ensemble
    Morley College Symphony Orchestra
    Conductor
    Sir Malcolm Arnold
  • Ensemble
    Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / Philharmonia Orchestra
    Conductor
    Malcolm Arnold / Robert Irving
  • Ensemble
    Philharmonia Orchestra
    Conductor
    Michael Massey
    Decca:
  • Ensemble
    Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    Conductor
    Vernon Handley
  • Ensemble
    BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
    Conductor
    Rumon Gamba
    Chandos:
  • Ensemble
    Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / BBC Concert Orchestra / London Philharmonic Orchestra / London Musici / Grimethorpe Colliery Band / Philip Jones Brass Ensemble
    Soloist(s)
    Benjamin Frith, piano
    Conductor
    Vernon Handley / Sir Adrian Boult / Mark Stephenson / Sir Malcolm Arnold / Elgar Howarth
    Conifer Records Limited:
  • Ensemble
    BBC Philharmonic
    Conductor
    Rumon Gamba
    Chandos:
Performances
Date
Title
Reviews
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,10/30/2006
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