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ALUN HODDINOTT (1929-2008)

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JOHN McCABE pays tribute
to a friend and colleague

 

The death of Alun Hoddinott has robbed us of a major creative force in the world of music, not only as a composer of a massive output of highly individual, powerful works but also as an animateur, to use a term that for some reason has become current. As Professor of Music at University College, Cardiff, he oversaw a dramatic increase in the authority of the Music Department, one of the major achievements of which was the creation of the Cardiff Festival of 20th Century Music in the late 1960s. As pianist-in-residence in Cardiff at the time, I was privileged to be in on the start of that enterprise -- it was a time of immense excitement, enhanced by the presence of a startling number of genuinely talented student composers, many of whom have gone on to successful careers.

Hoddinott's output speaks for itself, and the release or reissue of so many masterly works enables us to explore his great legacy, from the brilliant early first Clarinet Concerto, through the great achievements of the major works in all forms, in a career which expressed, perhaps most vividly, his artistic courage. His Concerto for Orchestra is a scintillating late work, fortunately available on CD -- I hope his superb Variants for orchestra will be reissued at some time, along with his lighter, but equally significant, Sinfoniettas, which showed, as do his Welsh Dance sets, the enormous range of his inspiration.

Alun Hoddinott with friend and colleague John McCabe at the 2004 Presteigne Festival of Music and the Arts. Photo © Keith Bramich
Alun Hoddinott with friend and colleague John McCabe at the 2004 Presteigne Festival of Music and the Arts. Photo © Keith Bramich

Above all, he was a good, loyal and generous friend and colleague, who will be greatly missed. His contribution to the world of Welsh music has been rightly honoured by the dedication of a new concert-hall in Cardiff bearing his name -- but it is not only Welsh music that has been enriched by his huge output of supremely expressive work.

Copyright © 28 July 2008 John McCabe, Kent UK

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RODERIC DUNNETT'S TRIBUTE TO ALUN HODDINOTT

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