Doreen Mary Carwithen – Underhill
Doreen Carwithen (15 November 1922 – 5 January 2003) was a British composer of classical and film music. She was also known as Mary Alwyn.
Doreen Carwithen was born in Haddenham, Bucks on 15 November 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. At age 16 she began composing by setting Wordswoth’s “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” for voice and piano.
In 1941 she entered the Royal Academy of Music and played the cello in a string quartet and with orchestras. She was a member of the harmony class of William Alwyn, who began to teach her composition. Her overture ODTAA (One Damn Thing After Another) was premiered at Covent Garden by Adrian Boult in 1947. The same year she was selected by the Royal Academy to train as composer of film music.
In 1961 she became William Alwyn’s devoted secretary and amanuensis, becoming his second wife in 1975, (1) adopting Mary Alwyn as her married name, as she disliked the name Doreen, and Mary was her middle name. She later worked as a Sub Professor of Composition at the RAM. After her husband’s death in 1985, she founded the William Alwyn Archive and William Alwyn Foundation to promote his music and facilitate related research projects.
She then also resumed interest in her own music. In 1999 a stroke left her paralysed on one side. She died in Forncett St Peter, near Norwich, on 5 January 2003.
Doreen Carwithen wrote scores for over 30 films, including Harvest from the Wilderness (1948), Boys in Brown (1950), Mantrap (1952) (released in the U.S. as Man in Hiding), and East Anglian Holiday (1954). She also scored Elizabeth Is Queen, the official film of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. She composed some orchestral music.
(1) Burton-Page, Piers (2004). “Alwyn, William (1905–1985)”. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Online ed.). Oxford University