Daughter of Northampton's most celebrated composer fights to stop destruction of archive

"Sir Malcolm Arnold was one of Britain's most important composers...We're in danger of losing years on information about that period of his life"

Tuesday, 10th November 2020, 6:15 pm
Sir Malcolm Arnold, pictured in 1958.

An archive chronicling the lost years of Northampton's most celebrated composer could be destroyed by the state.

Northampton-born Sir Malcolm Arnold is revered as one of Britain's greatest composers, whose work includes the scores for Bridge Over the River Kwai and The Belles of St Trinian's.

But now, a collection of records, papers and personal letters from the Oscar-winning musician's later life could be lost forever.

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The archive, which was accumulated during a troubled seven year period when Sir Arnold was in the care of the Court of Protection between 1979 and 1986, is set to be destroyed by the state.

In an article published on November 10, The Times newspaper reported that Malcolm Arnold's family has been told that because of the personal information within the archive, the Ministry of Justice has "exhausted all possible options" for preserving the archive.

The archive has also reportedly never been unsealed for biographers and researches, essentially making the collection a record of 'lost years' during the composer's time in the state's care.

The national newspaper reported that Sir Arnold's daughter, Katherine Arnold, has fought for more than 20 years to have the archive released and the prohibited collection contains "all the answers" to questions about the state's discharge of care towards her father.

Now, Ms Arnold as well as dozens of signatories have written a letter to the Ministry of Justice calling for the records to be given to the National Archives.

One of the signatories is Paul Harris, co-author of the composer's autobiography and a lead organiser of the Northampton's annual Malcolm Arnold Festival.

He told the Chronicle & Echo: "Sir Malcolm Arnold was one of Britain's most important composers of the 20th century and people will want to study him in the future.

"This is an enormous collections of documents from his life chartering those seven years and it's been suggested they are going to destroy them all.

"We're in danger of losing years on information about that period. That's his life."

Sir Malcolm Arnold passed away in 2006.