Born in England, Peter Godfrey was educated at King's College in Cambridge and was a chorister and choral scholar in the choir.
War service intervened from 1942-45 when Peter served as a Captain in the King's African Rifles. He later returned to Cambridge University to continue studies as the John Stewart Scholar in Sacred Music. He then attended the Royal College of Music and was Music Master at various schools and Director of Music at Marlborough College.
In 1958 Peter travelled to New Zealand to take up the position of Lecturer in Music at Auckland University, which he held from 1958-1973, later becoming Professor of Music (1974-1982).
Throughout his teaching career, Peter has maintained a punishing schedule. Alongside his University career, Peter was also Director of Music for Auckland Cathedral of St Mary’s and Holy Trinity (1958-1974); Conductor of the Auckland String Players (1959- 1968); founder of the Symphonia of Auckland and Director of groups such as the Dorian Choir (1961-83), Auckland University Singers (1970-82), and the Auckland University Choral Society (1968-82). These groups have toured internationally and won prestigious overseas competitions.
In 1978, Peter was invited back to Cambridge as Acting Director of Music/Choir of King's College Chapel for six months. This appointment has meant that Peter is the only person to have been a chorister, choral scholar and Head of Music at Kings College Cambridge since the15th Century.
Returning to New Zealand, Peter became Conductor and Director of Musicfor the National Youth Choir (1982-88), Director of Music at St Paul's Cathedral in Wellington (1983-89), and Director of the Orpheus Choir (1984-91). One of his greatest accomplishments was to found the New Zealand Choral Federation in 1985. In 1989 Peter accepted a two-year posting as Director of Music at Trinity College, Melbourne.
While Church music is Peter’s first love, he has always been involved with community choirs. From 1992 he was Director of the Kapiti Chamber Choir and of the 100-member Kapiti Chorale. He was also conductor and organist at St Michael’s Church,Waikanae.
In recognition of his contribution to music, Peter received an MBE in 1978, a CBE in 1988, and Professor Emeritus at Auckland University in 1982. He received an Arts Foundation Icon Award in 2005.