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Alun Hoddinott

August 11, 1929 - March 12, 2008
born in Bargoed, Glamorganshire, composed during the Contemporary period
Regarded as Wales' leading composer of the late twentieth century, Alun Hoddinott gained an international audience through performances of his Clarinet Concerto (1949), premiered by the celebrated Gervase de Peyer at the 1954 Cheltenham Festival. Subsequently, he wrote works for a number of important artists, including Barry Tuckwell, John Ogdon, and Mstislav Rostropovich. Singers, too, such as Dame Gwyneth Jones, Stuart Burrows, and bass baritone Sir Geraint Evans (who named a son after him) performed Hoddinott scores composed specifically for them. Through several academic appointments and his efforts on behalf of the Cardiff Festival of Twentieth Century Music, Hoddinott greatly enhanced Wales' musical reputation among other nations.

After demonstrating early interest in both the violin and composition, Hoddinott rapidly developed his musical skills. At age 16, he won a university scholarship; following graduation from University College in Cardiff, he traveled to London to study with Arthur Benjamin. When he was 24, he received recognition by winning the Walford Davis Prize for composition. A year later, the success of his clarinet concerto afforded him his first major public recognition; thereafter, he pursued pedagogy and composition together. His first appointment as lecturer in music at the Welsh College of Music and Drama in 1951 was followed by a lectureship at his alma mater, University College, and later, both a professorship and a position as department head at the same school.

During his two decades as professor of music at Cardiff (1967-1987), Hoddinott was in a position to exert considerable influence on the musical life of his country. His 22 years as artistic director of the Cardiff Festival beginning in 1967 afforded him even greater opportunities to guide and promote Welsh contemporary music. For his work as composer and administrator, Hoddinott received a number of honors, among them a CBE, the Arnold Bax Medal, and the John Edwards Memorial Award. He was awarded an honorary membership at the Royal Academy of Music and was made a Fellow at the Royal Northern College of Music.

Among Hoddinott's works are a half-dozen operas, various chamber and orchestral works, and other pieces composed for chorus and soloists. The composer's Celtic roots are clearly in evidence in music that remains communicative and harmonically accessible, even in moments of brooding introspection. ~ Erik Eriksson, Rovi
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