A handwritten symphony manuscript by Malcolm Arnold has been rediscovered by his daughter on eBay, three decades after he is thought to have given it away while suffering from mental illness.
The British composer wrote his Seventh Symphony in 1973 and, although it exists in a printed version, the original handwritten score had been missing for more than 30 years.
The score, which shows a strong influence of Mahler, was composed in Dublin and at Walton’s Mediterranean home on the island of Ischia. Each of the three movements is a portrait of one of Arnold’s three children, Katherine, Robert and Edward.
His daughter Katherine, represented in the Allegro energico movement, had been searching for the original score for years, spurred on by the knowledge that it was dedicated to her and her two younger brothers. ‘It was extraordinary to have it back. It was very emotional,’ she says.
She discovered the work the eBay website, put up for sale by a Hampstead-based shop called Flogit4U. ‘It was in its original box with the tissue paper from when it was bound,’ she says.
The Telegraph reports that Arnold, ‘a manic depressive, schizophrenic and alcoholic, could have given the work away in lieu of payment to a plumber or repairman, after the Court of Protection stopped him accessing his bank account’.
The Seventh Symphony was commissioned by the New Philharmonia Orchestra and premiered at the Royal Festival Hall in May 1974, with the composer conducting. The manuscript is currently on loan to the library of Eton College as part of a special archive of manuscripts.
Tim Johnson, director of music at Eton, is keen for the public to come and see the work. ‘The key thing is we want people from beyond Eton to come and visit it and it’s an amazing manuscript in itself,’ he says. This can be arranged via appointment.