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Alun Hoddinott was born on 11 August 1929 in the mining town of Bargoed, near Caerphilly, in the Welsh valleys. His father, Thomas Hoddinott, was a primary school headmaster in the village of Penllergaer; his maternal grandfather wrote hymn tunes. John Hoddinott, organist of Worcester Cathedral in the early 18th century, was possibly an ancestor.
Alun grew up near Swansea. Although his family was not especially musical, at the age of four young Alun was taken to a concert and was mesmerised by the haunting sound of the violin, which he immediately expressed a wish to learn. So at that young age he began taking violin lessons. He went to Gowerton Grammar School, where he received, he recalled, 'absolutely fantastic' encouragement from his music master.
He composed pieces at school, became a founding member of the National Youth Orchestra of Wales in 1946 (playing the viola), and from Grammar School won a composition scholarship to University College, Cardiff, from which he graduated in 1949.
While a student Alun continued composing with energy, producing a number of more substantial works. They included an overture, a symphonic suite for orchestra, a cello concerto and a series of early works for string quartet, together with vocal settings and choral works; almost all of these pieces were publicly performed. Although a good many were also broadcast, Hoddinott later withdraw several and these no longer figure on his official list of works.
Copyright © 15 April 2008
Roderic Dunnett, Coventry UK