Few world-class composers can rival the dazzling Sir Malcolm Arnold in terms of voluminous output. His résumé alone -- 132 film scores (an average of six per year), seven ballets, 20 concertos, nine symphonies, and a host of compositions for brass bands, chorales, and chamber musicians -- suggest a creative mind that never ceased, and would doubtless have kept on producing music, indefinitely, for as long as Arnold lived.
Arnold also demonstrates (as do so many of his contemporaries) that the most enviable creative gifts and the most troubling behavioral dysfunction often walk hand in hand. The victim of schizophrenia at an early age, a well-publicized alcoholic, a survivor of numerous mental breakdowns and suicide attempts, and the recipient of severe treatments for mental illness including institutionalization and a possible lobotomy, Arnold suffered from tremendous psychiatric strain. His life was also fraught with external difficulty, including the death of an infant daughter, the birth of an autistic son, and two failed marriages (to Sheila Nicholson and Isobel Gray, respectively), the second of which saw his wife filing a restraining order against the increasingly violent Arnold. He nonetheless survived these traumas, grew stronger, and -- despite a lengthy period in the middle of his life, sans output -- continued to author music right up through the end.