Malcolm Arnold’s trumpet

Sir Malcolm Arnold (1921 – 2006) was a British composer, many of whose works have become immediately recognisable in the popular classical cannon. 

He wrote extensively for stage and screen, including five scores for ballets commissioned by the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden, and film scores for over 100 films.  Perhaps the most famous of these was his theme and incidental music for Bridge Over the River Kwai in 1957, which was to win him an Oscar the following year.  The British Film Institute voted it the eleventh best British film of all time.

Despite his undoubted fame as a composer, Arnold’s career actually began on the other side of the music – as a performer.  At the Royal College of Music he studied composition under Gordon Jacob and trumpet under Ernest Hall (whose original, handwritten and unpublished trumpet method manuscript is also held by our archives), and it’s as a trumpeter that his career in music was to begin.  In 1941 he joined the London Philharmonic Orchestra as second trumpet, being promoted to principal two years after.  Later he would also become principal trumpet at the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

A slew of awards and accolades would follow, including the Ivor Novello Award in 1959 and 1986, Fellowship of the Royal College of Music in 1983 and a knighthood in 1993.

In April 2017 an auction of some of Sir Malcolm Arnold’s personal effects took place at Keys Fine Art Auctioneers in Norfolk, and with financial support from the Research and Knowledge Exchange department of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland this 1930s Besson 7 Co Class A Protrano LP Prototype Trumpet (No. 128627) was purchased for the collections.  This is the first time it has been played publicly since Sir Malcolm Arnold used it decades ago.

View Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s catalogue of historic musical instruments.