Arnold Cooke was born in Yorkshire on November 4th 1906. He was educated at Repton School and then went to Cambridge University in 1925, where he gained a degree in history.
He then transferred to the music faculty, studying with E.J.Dent and Denis Arundel. In 1929 he went to the Hochschüle für Musik in Berlin and studied for three years with Hindemith. After finishing his studies he became the director of music at the Cambridge Festival Theatre for a year, and then in 1933 became professor of harmony, counterpoint and composition at the Royal Manchester College of Music (now the Royal Northern College of Music) for the next five years.
In 1934 he won a prize in the Daily Telegraph competition with his Concert Overture No.1. In 1938 he moved back to London to continue his career as a composer, but when war broke out he joined the Navy. Back in London in 1947 he was appointed professor of composition at Trinity College of Music, where he remained until his retirement in 1978. He died in 2005.