Doreen Carwithen was born in Haddenham, Buckinghamshire on November 15, 1922. As a child she had her first music lessons from her mother, a music teacher, starting both piano and violin with her at age 4. In 1941 she entered the Royal Academy of Music and played the cello in a string quartet and with orchestras. At age 16 she began composing by setting Wordsworth’s "Daffodils" to music for voice and piano. At the Royal Academy she entered the harmony class of William Alwyn who began to teach her composition (and who would one day become her husband). Her overture ODTAA (One Damn Thing After Another) was premiered in Covent Garden by Adrian Boult in 1947. The same year she was selected by the Royal Academy to train as a composer of film music. She wrote scores for over 30 films, including Harvest from the Wilderness (1948), Boys in Brown (1949), Mantrap (1953), Three Cases of Murder (1953), East Anglian Holiday (1954) and Break in the Circle (1955). In 1961 she married William Alwyn, dropped the name Doreen Carwithen and became Mary Alwyn. (Mary was her middle name, and she hated Doreen). She was devoted to her husband and acted as his secretary and amanuensis. After he died in 1985, she resumed interest in her own music. In 1999 a stroke left her partially paralysed and she died in Forncett St Peter, Norwich, in 2003.
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