Alison Bauld was born in 1944 in Sydney, Australia.
A strong desire to perform was directed towards theatre and she became a student at the National Institute of Dramatic Art. This led to a period of professional acting, touring in Shakespeare productions and working in television and radio drama. Wishing to combine her skills as a musician and an actress, she studied for a Music Degree at Sydney University, while continuing to work in radio drama and also writing music for several theatre productions.
She was awarded the University's Sydney Moss Travelling Scholarship and came to England in 1969 to study with Elisabeth Lutyens and Hans Keller. In 1974, she obtained a Doctorate in Composition from the University of York. She was a finalist in the 1973 Radcliffe Competition with her composition, One Pearl, for string quartet and voice. This piece later won her a place at the Paris Rostrum.
There have since been several BBC commissions, exploring quadraphonic radio effects as in Van Diemen's Land (for a cappella chorus of singers and voice), multi-track techniques in a scene from Richard III (for string quartet and voice), and mixing radio sound effects with orchestra, singers and actors in her cantata, Once Upon a Time. In 1974, a Gulbenkian Dance Award for composition allowed her to observe and be attached to the Rambert Dance Company, The Royal Ballet, Scottish Workshop and the London Contemporary Dance Company. In 1975, she became Music Director of the Laban Centre for Dance, Goldsmiths' College, London University.
Her compositions gain their dramatic structure by combining elements of theatre with musical forms which use voice as well as instruments. A series of songs for voice and piano reveal her strong interest in lieder, arguably the form of composition which she finds most satisfying. Among these are included Banquo's Buried (1982) for soprano and piano, Cry, Cock a Doodle Doo (1989), for soprano and piano, The Witches' Song (1990) for solo soprano, Where should Othello Go? (1998) for baritone and piano, and, among her most recent, Titania's Song, recorded for The NMC Songbook (2009) by soprano Elizabeth Atherton.
Alison Bauld is also active as a teacher and writer. Her three-volume tutor for keyboard and composition Play Your Way explores the credo that ‘mistakes’ can be used to stimulate musicianship, and that learning to use errors creatively is an important part of acquiring musical techniques. She has also written a novel, Mozart’s Sister, published by Alcina Press.