Born in Budapest on 4 May 1905, Mátyás Seiber began to learn the cello at the age of ten. He studied composition at the Budapest Academy of Music under Kodály from 1919 to 1924. In 1925 he entered his 'Serenade' for wind sextet in a Budapest competition and when it failed to win the prize, Bartók resigned from the jury in protest.
In 1935 Seiber settled in London, where he founded the Dorian Singers and helped Francis Chagrin to found the Society for the Promotion of New Music. He taught at Morley College and privately, and his pupils included Don Banks, Peter Racine Fricker, Anthony Gilbert, Malcolm Lipkin, David Lumsdaine, Anthony Milner and Hugh Wood. Seiber stayed in touch with continental musical developments and frequently attended the International Society for Contemporary Music’s festivals, several of which featured his own compositions.
On 24 September 1960, at the age of 55, he was killed in a car crash in South Africa during a lecturing tour of the country’s universities. At the time of his tragically early death, Seiber was one of the most respected teachers of composition in Britain. His own body of work is distinguished by a natural versatility and by the wide range and eclecticism of his musical interests. It incorporates the successful pop song 'By the Fountains of Rome' (1956), which entered the top ten of the charts and won an Ivor Novello Award, and his score for the animated film 'Animal Farm' (1954), as well as numerous examples of incidental music for radio, television and the stage.