Alun Hoddinott was born in Bargoed, Glamorganshire, in 1929. His compostional talents developed early, and he won a university scholarshop at the age of sixteen. After graduating from University College, Cardiff, he studied for some years with the Australian composer and pianist, Arthur Benjamin. He was awarded the Walford Davies prize for composition when he was twenty-four, and achieved his first national success a year later when his Clarinet Concerto was given its first performance at the Cheltenham Festival by Gervase de Peyer and the Halle Orchestra, under Sir John Barbirolli. In 1951 he was appointed lecturer in music at the Welsh College of Music and Drama; he later became lecturer at University College, Cardiff and was made Professor and Head of Department there in 1967.
Among his many awards are the John Edwards Memorial Award, the Arnold Bax Medal for composers, the Hopkins Medal of the New York St David's Society and the CBE. He is an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music, and a Fellow of the Royal Northern College of Music.
Hoddinott has achieved a mastery of composition which embraces almost every musical medium. His strong creative urge, stimulated by a tremendous variety of eminent performers, is reflected in a substantial body of works. Essentially chromatic, his music often shows a dark Celtic intensity, manifested in his nocturnal slow movements.
As Professor of Music at University College, Cardiff, and Artistic Director of the Cardiff Festival, he has had considerable influence in awakening interest in contemporary music in South Wales. He has also formed close and regular contacts in both the USA and Germany.