Cristóbal Halffter was born in Madrid in 1930, a nephew of Rodolfo and Ernesto Halffter, musicians from a family of German origin, but also natives of Madrid. In 1936 he moved with his family to Germany, as a consequence of the Civil War, returning in 1939 to study at the German College in Madrid and subsequently with Conrado del Campo at Madrid Conservatory. After graduation in 1951 he embarked on a career as a composer and as a conductor. Various awards followed, including the National Music Prize in 1953 for his Piano Concerto and a further award from UNESCO in 1956. His work soon earned him a distinguished place in Spanish and international musical life, recognised by contributions to the International Society for Contemporary Music, UNESCO and other international organizations. In 1961 he was given the Chair of Composition at the Royal Conservatory of Madrid, of which he served as director from 1964 to 1966. In his continuing career as a composer he has combined the spirit of Spain with avant-garde techniques, widely honoured at home and abroad for his achievement.