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Alun Hoddinott

Alun Hoddinott
Alun Hoddinott (born August 11, 1929, Bargoed, Glamorganshire, Wales) is a Welsh composer of classical music.

Life and works
Hoddinott was educated at University College, Cardiff, and later studied privately with Arthur Benjamin. His first major composition, the Clarinet Concerto, was performed at the Cheltenham Festival of 1954 by Gervase de Peyer with the Hall´┐Ż Orchestra and Sir John Barbirolli. This brought Hoddinott a national profile which was followed by a string of commissions by leading orchestras and soloists. These commissions have continued to the present day and he has been championed by some of the most distinguished singers and instrumentalists of the 20th century. These include singers including Dame Margaret Price, Dame Gwyneth Jones, Sir Thomas Allen, Jill Gomez, Sir Geraint Evans and more recently Jeremy Huw Williams. Instrumentalists have included Ruggiero Ricci, Mstislav Rostropovich, Dennis Brain, Osian Ellis, Nia Harries, John Ogdon to name a few, and more recently euphonium player David Childs and song pianist Andrew Matthews-Owen.

Hoddinott has been vastly prolific, writing symphonies, sonatas, and concertos: his style has evolved over a long and distinguished career, from the neo-classicism of the Clarinet Concerto to a brand of serialism which allowed a tonal framework to the structure, combining a penchant for dark textures and brooding harmonies similar to that of another British composer, Alan Rawsthorne, with Bartokian arch-forms and palindromes. However, his move into opera from 1970 helped to broaden his stylistic range and lighten his palette. His music often displays a brooding, darkly lyrical intensity, manifested in his nocturnal slow movements. One of the best examples is his rhapsodic Poem for violin and orchestra, inspired by a line from James Joyce, The Heaventree of Stars. While he often stresses a programmatic element to his music, it can equally be listened to on its own merits - though he is perhaps not a great melodist, his works have a great atmospheric presence and his use of orchestral colour is rich and appealing. He combines a tough, disciplined writing with a sense of the mysterious and unknown, and can perhaps best be described as a 'modernist romantic.'

He has been awarded honorary doctorates from numerous leading musical institutions including the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal Northern College of Music and the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, as well as the Walford Davies Award and the CBE.

In 2005, Hoddinott produced a fanfare to be performed at the wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, to Camilla Parker Bowles, having previously written works to celebrate Prince Charles' 16th birthday and his investiture.

In 1997 Alun Hoddinott received the Glyndŵr Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Arts in Wales during the Machynlleth Festival. He also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arts Council of Wales in 1999, Fellowship of the Welsh Music Guild and the presentation of a medal to him by Queen Elizabeth II on the occasion of the official opening of the Wales Millennium Centre.

On March 1st 2007 (St David's Day) soprano Helen Field and baritone Jeremy Huw Williams gave the World Premiere of his Orchestral Song cycle 'Serenissima' with the BBC National Orchestra at St David's Hall. It was announced on this occasion by BBC Controller Menna Richards that the BBC NOW's new home in the Millennium Centre in Cardiff (due to be built by the end of 2008), which will include a specially built 350 seat concert hall, will be named the BBC Hoddinott Hall in recognition of a long and distinguished international career.

Other notable works

  • Concerto for Piano, Winds and Percussion, op. 19 (1961)
  • Concerto No. 2, op. 21 (1960)
  • Concerto No. 3, op. 44 (1966)
  • The Beach of Falesa (opera)
  • Star Children (1989)
  • Symphony for Soprano and Orchestra (No. 9): A Vision of Eternity


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