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Thread: William Mathias (1934-92)

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    Default William Mathias (1934-92)

    Welsh composer William Mathias would've turned 80 on 1 November (tomorrow as I write). He wrote a considerable amount of music in his short life, mainly Anglican choral works, but also including 3 symphonies, numerous concerti plus chamber and organ works.
    "I like to think that oysters transcend national barriers" - Roger Waters

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    Well done, sir. I have some of his works and I'm puzzled by what seems to be a seemingly small (albeit dedicated) fanbase these days. Hopefully a reappraisal won't be too long in coming, such as what benefited Alan Rawsthorne. As a Welshman no doubt you are proud of him, and rightly so. I haven't heard any of his church music but I am taken with the symphonies, string quartets and violin sonatas.
    '...a violator of his word, a libertine over head and ears in debt and disgrace, a despiser of domestic ties, the companion of gamblers and demireps, a man who has just closed half a century without a single claim on the gratitude of his country or the respect of posterity...' - Leigh Hunt on the Prince Regent (later George IV).

    ὃν οἱ θεοὶ φιλοῦσιν ἀποθνῄσκει νέος [Those whom the gods love die young] - Menander

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    I discovered him purely by chance about 2-3 years ago. I was out, I had a radio with me and I found a piece for organ and orchestra playing on a Welsh-language station (I know very little Welsh), and it had me hooked for its half-hour duration. I found out afterwards that it was Mathias' Organ Concerto (which NEEDS to be commerically recorded!)

    Then a year ago, I found a disc for sale in a charity shop featuring his Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2, and I really got into those works (especially No. 2) and started delving further. As of now, I only have one other disc of his (Lux aeterna), but I intend to get more when I can.
    "I like to think that oysters transcend national barriers" - Roger Waters

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    Default William Mathias (1934 – 1992)

    William Mathias (1934-1992) was a Welsh Composer who composed a wide range of orchestral, choral and chamber works.)

    From Wiki
    Mathias was born in Whitland, Carmarthenshire. A child prodigy, he started playing the piano at the age of three and began composing at the age of five. At Aberystwyth University, Mathias was a member of The Elizabethan Madrigal Singers and wrote 'Gloria in Excelsis Deo' for them in 1954. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music under Lennox Berkeley, where he was elected a fellow in 1965. In 1968, he was awarded the Bax Society Prize of the Harriet Cohen International Music Award. He was professor of music and head of department in the University of Wales, Bangor, from 1970 until 1988.

    His compositions include large scale works, including an opera, The Servants (1980), three symphonies and three piano concertos. Much of his music was written for the Anglican choral tradition, most famously the anthem Let the people praise Thee, O God written for the July 1981 royal wedding of the Prince and Princess of Wales, which had a television audience of an estimated 1 billion people worldwide.

    Mathias wrote his Sinfonietta – initially called Dance Suite – for the Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra (LSSO) in late 1966, and it received its first performance at Leicester De Montfort Hall during the 1967 Schools Festival. It was also included in the orchestra's tour programme for Denmark and Germany later in the year. The LSSO made the first commercial recording of Sinfonietta for the Pye Golden Guinea label in July 1967 under the direction of the composer (see external links below).

    He founded the North Wales International Music Festival in St Asaph in 1972 and directed it until his death in 1992.

    He is buried outside St Asaph Cathedral, at St Asaph, Denbighshire, North Wales.
    I actually studied Music at Bangor but shortly after Mathias had retired and shortly before his untimely death. I never actually met him - but his spirit was all pervasive and we played some his pieces in the College Orchestra.

    I was suddenly moved this week (due to hearing a couple of his organ works on a compliation) to start exploring more of his music.
    His Organ works are first rate. His symphonies are well worth a listen and his String Quartets are superb.
    Happy Explorations to continue.
    “Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”

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    Hear hear - a fine composer. All credit to the likes of Lyrita and Nimbus for recording a fair portion of his material. I don't have any of the vocal or keyboard works but I've always liked the symphonies, quartets and violin sonatas as well as some of the stand-alone orchestral pieces such as Helios. He wrote a really neat oboe concerto, too.
    '...a violator of his word, a libertine over head and ears in debt and disgrace, a despiser of domestic ties, the companion of gamblers and demireps, a man who has just closed half a century without a single claim on the gratitude of his country or the respect of posterity...' - Leigh Hunt on the Prince Regent (later George IV).

    ὃν οἱ θεοὶ φιλοῦσιν ἀποθνῄσκει νέος [Those whom the gods love die young] - Menander

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    download.jpg

    I bought this a few days back and haven't had a chance to listen to it yet. It has Helios and the Oboe Concerto plus Symphony No.3 which I've only heard the once. I'll be listening to it a little later.
    “Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”

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    Quote Originally Posted by MagneticGhost View Post
    download.jpg

    I bought this a few days back and haven't had a chance to listen to it yet. It has Helios and the Oboe Concerto plus Symphony No.3 which I've only heard the once. I'll be listening to it a little later.
    Yes, that's the disc I was referring to. My advice is that if you see a Mathias recording going cheap at the market place then snaffle it up - some of them are quite pricey now. The ones I want next are the Somm and Lyrita discs that feature his three piano concertos and the concertos for clarinet and harp.
    '...a violator of his word, a libertine over head and ears in debt and disgrace, a despiser of domestic ties, the companion of gamblers and demireps, a man who has just closed half a century without a single claim on the gratitude of his country or the respect of posterity...' - Leigh Hunt on the Prince Regent (later George IV).

    ὃν οἱ θεοὶ φιλοῦσιν ἀποθνῄσκει νέος [Those whom the gods love die young] - Menander

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    Senior Member Kivimees's Avatar
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    My only CD is this one:

    NI5260.jpg

    Two very nice symphonies.

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