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Malcolm Arnold

Publisher: Novello & Co

Comedy Overture: Beckus the Dandipratt (1943),
Publisher
Alfred Lengnick & Co Ltd
Category
Orchestra
Sub Category
Large Orchestra
Year Composed
1943
Duration
9 Minutes
Programme Note
Malcolm Arnold Comedy Overture: Beckus the Dandipratt (1943),
Sir Malcolm Arnold: Beckus the Dandipratt, Overture

Beckus the Dandipratt is an Arnold first, and was a profoundly important piece in establishing him as a composer. This splendid Concert Overture, stunningly assured in tunefulness and technique, and with many fingerprints of the later composer - bouncing rhythms, string glissandos, jolting changes of key, a love of the piccolo - was not a commission: it was written on spec. in 1943 when he was 21 and still in the LPO. Beckus was just an invented name, and a dandipratt means something like an urchin. Arnold got the idea while on holiday in Cornwall when a mischievous small boy made friends with him on the beach. (Sir Malcolm adored Cornwall and thought of himself as an honorary Celt). In the same breath he also pointed out that the Overture is a regular sonata form movement in E flat! Unlike Peterloo, Beckus is not programmatic, except that there is a prominent part for solo cornet, who is Beckus himself. The cornet wanders in and out of the texture - "coarse" says the score at one point - but there are also moments of quiet, with wonderfully transparent scoring, and the ending is surprisingly subdued. Arnold owes Beckus a great deal; once it was written, he nervously showed it to the Dutch conductor Eduard van Beinum, who was then the nearest thing the LPO had to a Musical Director. Van Beinum was not only encouraging, but said he would conduct it - and did so, for Decca 78, at the end of a recording session when there was time to spare. So Beckus the Dandipratt, the grubby little urchin from Padstow, can claim the credit for putting Arnold firmly on the musical map.

© 1998 Piers Burton-Page

  • Ensemble
    London Philharmonic Orchestra
    Conductor
    Eduard van Beinum
    London Philharmonic Orchestra:
  • Ensemble
    Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
    Conductor
    Constantin Silvestri
    BBC Legends:
  • Ensemble
    London Philharmonic Orchestra
    Conductor
    Vernon Handley
  • 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
    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:
  • Ensemble
    Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra / Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra / Philharmonia Orchestra
    Conductor
    Malcolm Arnold
    EMI Classics:
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