ARNOLD Brass Quintet No. 1



Malcom Arnold (Oct 1921 – Sep 2006)

Composed In



14 minutes


Brass Quintet (2 Trumpets, French Horn, Trombone, Tuba)


As one of the youngest musicians to ever be appointed principal instrumentalist in the London Philharmonic Orchestra, it is no wonder that Sir Malcom Arnold’s brass pieces are held in high esteem by players. Written for the New York Brass Quintet, the work had immediate impact and success.


About the Composition

Movement 1 – Allegro Vivace

This movement pits a duet of rambling, gallivant trumpets against a more sober trio of trombone, horn and tuba. Not long after that, Arnold passes the melody off to other instruments in the group while constantly growing the texture of the movement and the theme.

Movement 2 – Chaconne

In comparison to the other two movements, this movement is darker and slower. This movement is where Arnold shows off his writing for trombone, with a notorious trombone cadenza. The movement resolves into an air of semi-tranquility.

Movement 3 – Con Brio

The last movement is bright and full of vigour as its name suggests. This movement takes the tragic sound and creates brightness while showing off all of the instruments. The piece ends with an accelerando forced by the two trumpets alternating, driving the piece to its end.

Malcom Arnold

Fun Facts about the Composer

  • His famous music composed for the movie, The Bridge on the River Kwai, was completed in 10 days.
  • Was appointed as the 3rd trumpet in the London Philharmonic Orchestra soon after and rose quickly to principal trumpet.
  • Joined the army but after taking as much as he could stand (2 years), in desperation, he shot himself in the foot and was discharged.
  • He was in poor health, suffering from alcoholism and depression.
  • His poor health did not stop him from completing various works and pieces, including the Peterloo Overture and the set of four Cornish Dances.

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