Malcom Arnold (Oct 1921 – Sep 2006) in 1960


Appoximately 14 minutes (total 3 movements)


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


A brass quintet comprises two trumpets, horn, trombone, and tuba (or, in some cases, bass trombone). They can play with bold passion, with sweet delicacy, with the liveliness of a dance band or the songfulness of a string quartet.


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.

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.

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.

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.


  1. His famous music composed for the movie, The Bridge on the River Kwai, was completed in 10 days.
  2. Was appointed as the 3rd trumpet in the London Philharmonic Orchestra soon after and rose quickly to principal trumpet.
  3. 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.
  4. He was in poor health, suffering from alcoholism and depression.
  5. His poor health did not stop him from completing various works and pieces, including the Peterloo Overture and the set of four Cornish Dances.
Malcom Arnold
photo credit: Wikipedia