Trowell, Arnold

Arnold Wilberforce Trowell, a renowned New Zealand composer, cellist, and teacher, made a significant impact on the music scene in the British Isles during the early 20th century. His remarkable talent and friendship with the celebrated writer Katherine Mansfield have added intrigue to his story. This article delves into the fascinating life and music of Arnold Trowell, shedding light on his accomplishments as a cellist, composer, and educator.

Early Life and Education

Arnold Trowell was born on June 25, 1887, in Wellington, New Zealand. At the young age of sixteen, he embarked on a journey to Europe alongside his twin brother, Garnet Carrington Trowell, to pursue their musical studies. Arnold focused on mastering the cello, while Garnet dedicated himself to the violin. Their quest for musical excellence led them to prestigious institutions such as the Hoch Conservatorium in Frankfurt and Brussels.

Settling in London and Musical Career

In 1907, Arnold Trowell found himself drawn to the vibrant music scene in London, where he ultimately decided to settle. His exceptional talent as a cellist quickly gained recognition, and he became a sought-after performer. In fact, a 1918 edition of the magazine Strad hailed him as second only to the legendary cellist Casals, a testament to his extraordinary skill.

Trowell's repertoire consisted mainly of concerto performances, encompassing both renowned cello compositions and his own concertos. He captivated audiences through his flawless interpretations and expressive playing. Additionally, his music graced the airwaves through broadcasts of shorter concert pieces on BBC Radio.

Composer and Publications


Not only was Arnold Trowell a virtuoso cellist, but he was also a prolific composer. Between 1908 and 1926, he published approximately fifty pieces for cello, often referred to as "salon" or encore pieces. These compositions gained popularity across Europe, North America, and Australasia, making Trowell one of the first New Zealand-born composers to have his music publicly performed, recorded, and commercially released.

In addition to his published works, Trowell composed several solo suites for cello and over one hundred pieces for cello and piano, showcasing his versatility and creativity. Some of his compositions were written for orchestra, further highlighting his mastery as a composer. Despite the challenging climate for sheet music in the 1930s, Trowell's teaching etudes and student works remained in print, a testament to their lasting value.

Friendship with Katherine Mansfield

One of the most intriguing aspects of Arnold Trowell's life was his friendship with the esteemed writer Katherine Mansfield. The two formed a deep connection during their time in New Zealand, which continued to flourish even when Mansfield moved to London while Trowell studied in Brussels. However, Mansfield's affections eventually shifted to Garnet, Arnold's twin brother, leading to a complex dynamic between the three.

Notable Works and Legacy

Arnold Trowell's body of work encompasses a diverse range of compositions, showcasing his musical prowess and creativity. Some of his notable works include the "Six morceaux pour violoncelle avec accomp. de piano," dedicated to Kathleen M. Beauchamp (Katherine Mansfield), and the "Concerto for violoncelle avec accompagnement d'orchestre (ou piano)." His compositions display a deep understanding of the cello's expressive capabilities and serve as a testament to his enduring legacy.


Today, Trowell's music continues to be appreciated and recognized. His compositions, such as the "Morceaux Faciles, Op. 4," and the String Quartet in G, remain available through music publishers like Schott's and Kevin Mayhew. These works not only showcase Trowell's artistic brilliance but also provide aspiring cellists and musicians with valuable learning materials.


Arnold Trowell's legacy as a cellist, composer, and educator has left an indelible mark on the music scene of the British Isles. His exceptional talent as a performer and his prolific compositions have garnered admiration from audiences worldwide. Furthermore, his friendship with Katherine Mansfield adds an intriguing layer to his story. As we continue to appreciate and study Trowell's works, we honor his remarkable contributions to the world of music.

Cello Compositions of Arnold Trowell | Animato Strings


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