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Mathias, William (James)

Mathias, William (James)

Mathias, William (James), prominent Welsh composer and teacher; b. Whitland, Nov. 1, 1934; d. Menai Bridge, July 29, 1992. He was a student of Ian Parrott at Univ. Coll. of Wales, Aberystwyth (B.Mus., 1956). In 1957 he went to London to continue his training with Lennox Berkeley (composition) and Peter Katin (piano) at the Royal Academy of Music, where he was made a Fellow in 1965. Upon returning to his homeland, he received his D.Mus. from the Univ. of Wales (1966). From 1959 to 1968 he lectured at Univ. Coll. of North Wales, Bangor. In 1968–69 he taught at the Univ. of Edinburgh. In 1969 he rejoined the faculty of Univ. Coll. of North Wales, where he then was a prof, and head of the music dept. from 1970 to 1988. From 1972 he also served as artistic director of the North Wales Music Festival in St. Asaph. In 1968 he received the Bax Soc. Prize and in 1981 the John Edwards Memorial Award. In 1985 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In his music, Mathias followed a basically tonal path notable for its craftsmanship, adept handling of instrumental and vocal forces, and euphonious appeal.


dramatic:Culhwch and Olwen, entertainment (1966); As You Like It, incidental music to Shakespeare’s play (1967); The Servants, opera (Cardiff, Sept. 15, 1980); Jonah: A Musical Morality (Guildford, July 6, 1988). orch.: 3 piano concertos: No. 1 (1955), No. 2 (1960), and No. 3 (Swansea, Oct. 15, 1968); Berceuse (1956); Divertimento for Strings (London, March 1958); Music for Strings (1960; London, Dec. 3, 1961); Dance Overture (Wales, Aug. 10, 1962); Invocation and Dance (Cardiff, March 1, 1962); Serenade for Chamber Orch. (Carmarthen, June 5, 1962); Prelude, Aria, and Finale for Strings (Caerphilly, May 23, 1964); Concerto for Orchestra (1965–66; Liverpool, March 29, 1966); 3 syms.: No. 1 (Llandaff, June 23, 1966), No. 2, Summer Music (Liverpool, May 14, 1983), and No. 3 (1991); Sinfonietta (Leicester, May 1, 1967); Litanies: Concertante Music (BBC, Feb. 28, 1968); Festival Overture (Caernarvon, June 1970); Harp Concerto (Bournemouth, June 1, 1970); Intrada for Small Orch. (1970–71; Aberystwyth, April 8, 1971); Concerto for Harpsichord, Strings, and Percussion (Fishguard, Aug. 26, 1971); Holiday Overture (Llandudno, Sept. 30, 1971); Celtic Dances (1972); Laudi (Llandaff, June 11, 1973); Clarinet Concerto (Bangor, Sept. 22, 1975); Vistas (Swansea, Oct. 25, 1975); Dance Variations (London, July 1, 1977); Melos for Flute, Harp, Percussion, and Strings (Abbotsham, April 24, 1977); Vivat regina for Brass Band (London, June 11, 1977); Helios (Llandaff, June 16, 1977); Requiescat (1977; Portmadoc, Feb. 9, 1978); Reflections on a Theme of Tomkins for Flute, Oboe, Organ, Harpsichord, and Strings (1980); Organ Concerto (London, Sept. 12, 1984); Horn Concerto (Llandaff, June 9, 1984; also for Horn and Piano); Anniversary Dances (1984; Bangor, Feb. 16, 1985); Carnival of Wales (Cardiff, July 24, 1987); Violin Concerto (1989–91); Oboe Concerto (Llantilio Crossenny, May 6, 1990). chamber: Divertimento for Violin and Piano (n.d.); Clarinet Sonatina (1956; Cheltenham, July 13, 1957); Sextet for Clarinet, String Quartet, and Piano (1958); Improvisations for Harp (1958); 2 violin sonatas: No. 1 (1961; Cheltenham, July 12, 1962) and No. 2 (Swansea, Oct. 1984); Quintet for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn, and Bassoon (Cheltenham, July 4, 1963); Divertimento for Flute, Oboe, and Piano (1963); Piano Trio (Cheltenham, July 9, 1965); 3 string quartets: No. 1 (1967; Cardiff, April 25, 1968), No. 2 (1980; St. David’s, March 6, 1981), and No. 3 (Harrogate, Aug. 7, 1986); Concertino for Flute or Recorder, Oboe, Bassoon, and Harpsichord or Piano (London, March 6, 1974); Zodiac Trio for Flute, Viola, and Harp (Glamorgan, Aug. 19, 1976); CeremonialFanfare for 2 Trumpets (Whitland, Oct. 20, 1979); Flute Sonatina (Beaumaris, June 12, 1986); Soundings for Brass Quintet (1988); Santa Fe Suite for Harp (London, Sept. 1988). keyboard: piano: Toccata alla danza (1961); 2 sonatas: No. 1 (1963; Bangor, March 11, 1964) and No. 2 (1979). organ:Postlude (1962); Partita (London, Oct. 26, 1962); Variations on a Hymn Tune (Braint) (Llandaff, Dec. 7, 1962); Processional (1964); Invocations (1966; Liverpool, April 4, 1967); Toccata Giocosa (1967); Fantasy (Manchester, Sept. 7, 1978); Canzonetta (1978); Antiphonies (Cardiff, May 13, 1982); Berceuse (Newbury, May 9, 1985); Fenestra (1989–90; Keele, Jan. 22, 1990); Carillon (1990–91). vocal:7 Poems ofR.S. Thomas for Tenor, Harp, and Chamber Orch. (1957); Festival Te Deum for Chorus and Organ (1964); 3 Medieval Lyrics for Chorus, 2 Trumpets, Percussion, and Organ (1966); Psalm 150 for Mixed Voices, Orch., and/or Organ (Worcester, Aug. 24, 1969); Ave Rex for Mixed Voices and Organ or Orch. (Llandaff, Dec. 6, 1969); Gloria for Men’s Voices and Organ (Swansea, Dec. 5, 1970); Elegy for a Prince for Baritone and Orch. (Llandaff, June 10, 1972); A Vision of Time and Eternity for Contralto and Piano (Bangor, Sept. 27, 1972); Ceremony After a Fire Raid for Chorus, Piano, and Percussion (London, Sept. 19, 1973); This Worldes Joie for Soprano, Tenor, Bass, Chorus, Boy’s or Girl’s Chorus, and Orch. (Fishguard, Aug. 17, 1974); The Fields of Praise for Tenor and Piano (1976; Bangor, March 3, 1977); A Royal Garland for Chorus (Paris, Sept. 1977); A May Magnificat for Double Chorus and Chime Bars (Cork, May 5, 1978); Shakespeare Songs for Chorus and Piano (Cardiff, Feb. 8, 1979); Songs of William Blake for Mezzo-soprano, Harp, Piano, Celesta, and Strings (Fishguard, July 29, 1979); Rex Gloriae for Mixed Voices (Stuttgart, May 1981); Te Deum for Soprano, Mezzo-soprano, Tenor, Chorus, and Orch. (Aberdeenshire, Oct. 10, 1981); Let the People Praise Thee O Lord for Chorus and Organ or Orch. (London, July 29, 1981); Lux Aeterna for Soprano, Mezzo-soprano, Contralto, Boy’s Chorus, Chorus, Organ, and Orch. (Hereford, Aug. 26, 1982); Salvator Mundi for Women’s Chorus, Piano Duet, Percussion, and String Orch. (Cheltenham, Dec. 10, 1982); Let Us Now Praise Famous Men for Chorus and Organ or Orch. (Worcester, Aug. 18, 1984); Missa aedis Christi (in memoriam William Walton) for Chorus and Organ (Oxford, June 10, 1984); Veni Sande Spiritus for Chorus, Organ, 2 Trumpets, and Percussion (Hereford, Aug. 20, 1985); Let All the World in Every Corner Sing for Chorus, Organ, and Optional Brass (1985; London, June 25, 1987); O Lord, Our Lord for Chorus, Organ, and Optional Brass (Princeton, N.J., May 16, 1987); Cantate Domino for Chorus and Organ (Ludlow, June 1987); Riddles for 6 Soloists, Chorus, Piano, and Bells (1987; Vancouver, Feb. 6, 1988); Lear songs for Women’s Chorus and Piano Duet or Clarinet, Trumpet, Piano Duet, Percussion, and Double Bass (1989); World’s Fire for Soloists, Chorus, and Orch. (St. Asaph, Sept. 30, 1989); Doctrine of Wisdom for Chorus and Organ (London, May 17, 1990); various other sacred and secular pieces.


S. Craggs, W.M.: A Bio-Bibliography (Westport, Conn., 1995).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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