Nevit Kodallı was born into a family bred with music and the composer received his first lessons from his brother Hayri Kodallı. Having completed his education in the composition department of the Ankara State Conservatoire and finishing a master programme on composition and conducting, he went to Paris with governmental support and continued his composition studies under Arthur Honegger and conducting studies under Jean Fournet at the Ecole Normale de Musique. After classes with Mme Nadia Boulanger and Charles Koechlin, he returned to Turkey and started lectures at the Ankara State Conservatoire.
Kodallı made an important contribution to Turkish and world music literature with Atatürk Oratorio and produced numerous works covering a wide range of forms from orchestral works to concertos, opera and ballet music to cantatas, chamber music to choral and vocal works. His work Gılgamış is a work of universal quality inspired by Sumerian mythology and his opera Van Gogh is another contemporary work. Kodallı died on September 1, 2009.