Alun Hoddinott 1929-2008

Yn y blynyddoedd yn dilyn yr Ail Ryfel Byd, profodd Cymru rhyw danchwa ryfeddol yn ei datblygiad cerddorol ac am y tro cyntaf erioed daeth grŵp o gyfansoddwyr Cymreig o bwysigrwydd rhyngwladol i’r amlwg. Ymhlith yr amlycaf o’r rhain oedd Alun Hoddinott. Brodor o’r Bargoed oedd Hoddinott ac fel feiolinydd yr ystyriai ei hun i ddechrau (roedd yn un o aelodau cychwynnol Cerddorfa Ieuenctid Cenedlaethol Cymru yn 1946) ond roedd eisoes yn cyfansoddi’n doreithiog erbyn iddo fynd yn fyfyriwr i Adran Gerdd Prifysgol Caerdydd. Perfformiadau o’i Gonsierto Cyntaf i’r Clarinét yng Ngŵyl Cheltenham 1954 ddaeth â Hoddinott i amlygrwydd am y tro cyntaf ac yn y degawd dilynol buan iawn yr ymsefydlodd yn un o gyfansoddwyr Cymreig mwyaf blaenllaw ei genhedlaeth.

Yn 1967 penodwyd Hoddinott yn Athro ac yn Bennaeth yr Adran Gerdd ym Mhrifysgol Caerdydd ac ef fu’n gyfrifol am lansio Gŵyl Cerddoriaeth yr 20fed ganrif. Eto, yn hytrach na llesteirio’i gynnydd fel cyfansoddwr, cynyddodd ei allgynnyrch, os rhywbeth. Byddai’n cyfansoddi noson ar ôl noson, hyd oriau mân y bore, ac yn raddol crynhodd bortffolio sylweddol o symffonïau, concerti, sonatâu a gweithiau ym mhob genre bron. Yn 1974 cafodd ei opera gyntaf The Beach of Falesá ei pherfformiad cyntaf gan Gwmni Opera Cenedlaethol Cymru; aeth Hoddinott yn ei flaen wedyn i gyfansoddi pum opera arall. Perfformiwyd yr olaf o’r rhain, Tower, am y tro cyntaf yn 1999 ac mae’r gwaith yn seiliedig ar ddigwyddiadau 1994 pan lwyddodd gweithlu Pwll Glo y ‘Tower’ yng nghymoedd De Cymru i atal eu gweithle rhag cael ei gau.

Hoddinott oedd un o gyfansoddwyr mwyaf toreithiog ei genhedlaeth ac mae ganddo gannoedd o gyfansoddiadau i’w enw. Treuliodd flynyddoedd olaf ei fywyd ym Mro Gŵyr gan barhau i fod yn un o gyfansoddwyr prysuraf Cymru. Clywyd Taliesin, ei waith olaf i gerddorfa, yng Ngŵyl Gerdd Abertawe yn 2009.

In the years following the Second World War, Wales underwent a remarkable explosion in its musical development and for the first time there emerged a group of Welsh composers of international significance. Amongst the most prominent of these was Alun Hoddinott. Born in Bargoed, Hoddinott initially saw himself as a violinist (he was a founder member of the National Youth Orchestra of Wales in 1946) but was already composing prolifically by the time he entered the Music Department of Cardiff University. His first major exposure came with a performance of his First Clarinet Concerto at the 1954 Cheltenham Festival and in the decade that followed he quickly established himself as one of the leading Welsh composers of his generation.

In 1967 Hoddinott became Professor and Head of the Music Department of University College Cardiff and was responsible for launching the Festival of 20th Century Music. Yet, far from impeding his progress as a composer, his output if anything increased. Night after night, into the small hours, he composed steadily amassing an impressive portfolio of symphonies, concertos, sonatas and works in virtually all genres. In 1974 his first opera, The Beach of Falesá was premiered by Welsh National Opera and he went on to write a further five operas. The last of these, Tower, was premiered in 1999 and was based on the events of 1994 when the workforce of Tower Colliery in the South Wales valleys saved their workplace from closure.

Hoddinott was one of the most prolific composers of his generation with several hundred works to his name. He spent the last years of his life in the Gower continuing to be one of Wales’s busiest composers. His final orchestral work, Taliesin, was heard at the 2009 Swansea Festival.

 
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