William Alwyn was born at Northampton in 1905. He studied the flute, the piano, and composition at the Royal Academy of Music, and ultimately taught composition there from 1926 (at the age of 21) to 1955. He wrote a number of orchestral works and film scores, most notably those for Odd Man Out and The Fallen Idol, as well as four operas.
His approach to composition is essentially impressionistic, and he is often identified with the British impressionists, such as Sir Arnold Bax, Frank Bridge, and John Ireland. While not quite as well-known as his peers, he assimilated a wide range of musical idioms, dabbling in serialism (in his Third Symphony), neo-classicism, and jazz, which show through in his compositions.
He died at Suffolk in 1985, and is survived by his second wife, the composer Doreen Carwithen.
~Jonathan Yeo (more on the author)