Arnold Atkinson Cooke was born at Gomersal, Yorkshire on the 4th November 1906 as the second son of Reginald Cooke who worked in the family owned carpet manufacturing business in nearby Liversedge.
As a child of seven or eight he began playing the piano and was educated initially at Streete Preparatory School, Westgate-on-Sea and later on at Repton School, where in 1921 he took up the cello and was first taught composition.
On leaving Repton he entered Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge in 1925 to read History. After gaining his BA degree, he switched to the music course. He was president of the Music Society there between 1927-28. In 1929, with his BA in Music he left for Berlin to study composition and piano at the Berlin Academy for Music, where he was a student under Hindemith.
After three years he returned to Cambridge to begin his professional career with a short stint as the musical director of the Festival Theatre. A more lasting position became available at the Royal Manchester College of Music as professor of composition, harmony and counterpoint in 1933. The lure of London, being the most eminent centre for music, was too much and he moved there in 1938. The war intervened and he saw service with the navy as a liaison officer but this didn't prevent him from composing.
After leaving the navy at the end of the war he spent some time at the family home in Ben Rhydding, Yorkshire before returning to London in 1946, where a year later he took up a professorship at the Trinity College of Music teaching harmony, counterpoint, orchestration and composition where he stayed until his retirement in 1978.
He took his doctorate at Cambridge University in 1948. At his Five Oak Green home in Kent he continued to compose late into his life as well as becoming president of the Tonbridge Music Club.
His output covers all areas of music: chamber music, symphonies, opera, ballet and vocal music.