Welsh composer Alun Hoddinott dies

March 14, 2008 11:41:11 AM PDT
Alun Hoddinott, a composer who wrote music for the British royal family and was an influential promoter of modern music in his native Wales, has died. He was 78.

Hoddinott died Wednesday at a hospital in Swansea, his family said. They did not release the cause of his death.

Hoddinott composed more than 300 operas, symphonies and songs, including music for Prince Charles' 16th birthday and a fanfare for the prince's marriage to Camilla Parker Bowles in 2005.

Huw Tregelles Williams, the first director of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, credited Hoddinott with developing "an entirely new musical language in the history of musical Wales."

"He had a highly original, colorful style," said Williams said.

Hoddinott started violin lessons at age 4 and won a university scholarship at 16. He studied with the Australian composer and pianist Arthur Benjamin and wrote his first major concerto in 1949 while he was still a student.

Hoddinott became a lecturer at the Welsh College of Music and Drama in 1951 and later headed the music department at University College, Cardiff, from 1967 to 1987.

His first opera, "The Beach of Falesa," was the first full-length commission by the Welsh National Opera.

With his friend, the pianist John Ogdon, Hoddinott founded the Cardiff Festival of 20th-Century Music in 1976. The festival became a key venue for promoting contemporary music in Wales.

His place in Welsh musical life was recognized when a new concert hall in Cardiff Bay was named for him.

Hoddinott is survived by his wife, Rhiannon, and their son, Ceri.