Judged by any standards, Malcolm Arnold’s output in the 1950s was remarkable. In an average year in that decade he would compose the music for half a dozen films and half a dozen concert works. The English Dances had been requested by Bernard de Nevers, who directed Arnold’s publishers Alfred Lengnick & Co. He had suggested to all his house composers that they write some popular money-making works in the style of Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances. The Symphony No. 2 is Arnold’s sunniest symphonic utterance, even taking into account its sombre third movement. It is basically a positive work, which seems to capture perfectly the popular mood of the dawn of what was thought of as a new Elizabethan Age. For the Symphony No. 3 Arnold provided a characteristically uninspiring programme note: The first movement has two main subjects, the first of which is played by the violins, violas, flutes and bassoon at the very outset of the piece.