Magazine article Musical Opinion

Richard Arnell

Magazine article Musical Opinion

Richard Arnell

Article excerpt

Robert Matthew-Walker catches up with the distinguished British composer

Not many British composers were called up to serve in the United States Army or are referred to in an Alfred Hitchcock film without appearing on screen, but Richard Arnell is certainly one of them. I thought I had Tony Arnell, as he is familiarly known, caught out when I asked him: "In which Hitchcock film does your name appear?" "Oh, that's easy" he replied, "The Man Who Knew Too Much." In the 1956 movie, the second film Hitchcock made with this title, Doris Day gets out of a taxi at the Royal Albert Hall. Behind her are posters, one advertising a concert of Bach's Art of Fugue in an orchestral version played by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Richard Arnell. As it transpired, this was one of Hitchcock's famous little jokes, indeed there are often references to classical music in his films. Needless to say, ArnelPs concert with the LSO never took place. Hitchcock had had the spoof poster specially made, even though it was on screen for just a few seconds.

Richard Anthony Sayer Arnell enters his 90th year on 15 September, having been born in Hampstead in 1917 during a Zeppelin raid. Despite some paternal misgivings he entered London's Royal College of Music at the age of 17 as a student of John Ireland. Arnell's earliest works date from 1937, his Opus 1 being a set of Classical Variations for String Orchestra. He went to the USA before the outbreak of the second World War. When the USA entered the fray in 1941 Arnell, then living in New York City, was called up for the United States military, even though he was a British citizen. The Americans enlisted every available person of military age and Arnell served in the New York military. The threat was real, for German U-Boats had reached Brooklyn Harbour.

Much of Arnell's important early works were written in America, including his first three Symphonies. …

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