Richard Arnell was born in London in 1917 and educated at the Hall School, Hampstead and University College School before entering the Royal College of Music where he studied composition with John Ireland and Piano with Sir John Dykes. It was here that he began his first string quartet which was first performed by the Galimer Quartet at the 52nd Street New York Public Library in 1940. In 1938 he was awarded the Farrar Prize for composition. Between 1939 and 1947 he wrote his first important compositions, including his first three symphonies, concertos for violin and for piano and three string quartets. He was taken up by eminent conductors, among them Leopold Stokowski and Sir Thomas Beecham. From 1943 to 1946 he was music consultant to the BBC's North American Service. In 1947 he returned to England and became a composition teacher at Trinity College of Music, remaining on the staff until his retirement in 1987. He became an Honorary Fellow of the College in 1950 and a Principal Lecturer in 1981. He was appointed as music director and board member of the London International Film School from 1975 to 1988 when he retired. Arnell died in 2009.