Born in Scotland, Alistair Hinton studied music from the age of twelve. His early work attracted the interest of Benjamin Britten with whose advice and help he attended Royal College of Music London for lessons with Humphrey Searle and Stephen Savage. His earliest music dates from 1962 but he destroyed much of his pre-1985 output.
Hinton's development as a composer was greatly encouraged by the music, literature, and friendship of Parsi composer Kaikhosru Sorabji; this exposed him to the crucial formative influences of Szymanowski, Busoni, Medtner, van Dieren, Godowsky, and Stevenson. Together with a deepening admiration for Chopin, these were to enhance his love of the piano and preoccupation with the challenge of writing for it.
In 1976, he persuaded Sorabji to relax his embargo on public hearings of his music imposed four decades earlier. His active part in fostering international interest in Sorabji led to his founding the Sorabji Archive, of which he is curator. Based in Bath, England, the Archive is a research source for performers and scholars; it maintains a large and continuously expanding collection of literature by and about the composer, assists and oversees the compilation of new authentic editions and issues copies of his scores and writings to the public.
He has published articles, worked as executive producer of a number of recordings, and contributed to radio and television productions in Scotland, England and Netherlands. He is the author of two chapters in the book Sorabji: A Critical Celebration, for which he also contributed substantial valuable research material.
His extant works include a String Quintet, Wings of Death (a song-cycle for soprano and orchestra to poems of Tagore), a Violin Concerto and numerous piano works. His Pansophir for John Ogdon, for organ, commissioned in 1990 in memory of the great pianist (with whom he worked in the preparation of his historic recording of Sorabji's Opus Clavicembalisticum) was first heard in 1991 in a recital program devised and given in Ogdon's honour by Kevin Bowyer. In 1993 he received four commissions, of which three have been completed in 1994 and 1995 and the last, Variations for Piano and Orchestra, was completed in February 1996. A wide variety of artists who perform and broadcast Hinton's work include pianists Yonty Solomon, Ronald Stevenson, Donna Amato, and Ian Brown, soprano Jane Manning, and organist Kevin Bowyer.
His Variations and Fugue on a theme of Grieg for piano and his organ works have been recorded by Altarus Records; this prestigious label plans further recordings of his other music.
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For more information about the Sorabji Archive, please write to curator Alistair Hinton.
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