Author Topic: Daniel Jones(1912-93)-a prolific Welsh symphonist  (Read 42295 times)

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Offline Dundonnell

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Daniel Jones(1912-93)-a prolific Welsh symphonist
« on: January 16, 2009, 07:23:43 PM »
My 2000th Thread :)

The most prolific British composer of symphonies was easily Havergal Brian with 32 to his name but in second place among the significant figures of the 20th century was the Welshman Daniel Jones. Jones wrote 12 numbered symphonies between 1945 and 1985 and a thirteenth, the Symphony In Memory of John Fussell in 1992, one year before he died. ( For the record-George Lloyd 12, Rubbra and Simpson 11, Hoddinott 10).

Jones was the senior figure in Welsh music of his time and a very fine composer of serious, tonal but sometimes quite 'tough' music. In 1935 he formulated the concept of 'complex metres', in which complex rhythmic patterns are created by irregular metres repeated in regular patterns. The unusual and subtle movement thus created was studied and mathematically developed in Germany by the musicologist and composer Boris Blacher who further adapted the concept of 'variable metres' in his compositions of the 1940s.

The twelve numbered symphonies are remarkable in that each one has a different tonal centre, one for each of the twelve notes. There is an almost Nordic seriousness and sense of organic growth in these symphonies which remind me of a composer like Vagn Holmboe in Denmark(an almost exact contemporary of Jones). These are not 'light' works but have a rather sombre character which I find very appealing :)

Unfortunately only five of the thirteen have been committed to disc but these five do give a pretty good indication of the Jones soundworld. I had hoped that Chandos might have embarked on a cycle with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales while the late Richard Hickox was its Principal Conductor but this never happened(and now never will) :( There is, however, a Chandos box set of the equally impressive eight String Quartets.

Jones was a lifelong friend of the poet Dylan Thomas, wrote the music for the classic and unforgettable BBC Radio production in 1954 of 'Under Milk Wood' with the young Richard Burton, dedicated his 4th Symphony to Thomas, and wrote a biography of the great poet.
One of his most impressive shorter choral pieces is the Cantata 'The Country Beyond the Stars', which uses the words of the famous mystical poet, Henry Vaughan.

It is probably because Jones spent most of his life in South Wales-although he studied in London and continental Europe before World War Two-that he has not received the recognition he deserves. Jones is a British composer to be placed on a par with Alwyn, Rubbra, Berkeley, Rawsthorne and Simpson. I recommend the two Lyrita discs with all possible enthusiasm!

http://www.musicweb-international.com/Jones_Daniel/index.htm

http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2007/june07/Jones_SRCD329.htm

http://www.musicweb-international.com/classRev/2006/Sept06/Jones_SRCD326.htm
« Last Edit: January 16, 2009, 07:27:30 PM by Dundonnell »

Lilas Pastia

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Re: Daniel Jones(1912-93)-a prolific Welsh symphonist
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2009, 07:26:43 AM »
I've proselytized in these pages for the string quartets, as good a corpus as any in the second half of last century. I have those two Lyrita discs of the symphonies as well, but they've been patiently waiting for months in the long new discs queue. I'll bump them up for a listen. :D

Offline Grazioso

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Re: Daniel Jones(1912-93)-a prolific Welsh symphonist
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2009, 05:32:12 AM »
As an aside, be sure to check out Jones's contemporary, William Mathias (1934-1992), a leading Welsh composer, whose major works have been recorded by Nimbus and Lyrita. Some info:

http://www.musicweb-international.com/mathias/index.htm
There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact. --Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Offline donaldopato

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Re: Daniel Jones(1912-93)-a prolific Welsh symphonist
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2009, 06:26:44 AM »
Since I enjoy the music of Alwyn, Rubbra, Berkeley, Rawsthorne, Simpson, Holmboe and Hoddinott I should enjoy Jones. I thought about exploring his works anyway, so now I have the encouragement.
Until I get my coffee in the morning I'm a fit companion only for a sore-toothed tiger." ~Joan Crawford

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: Daniel Jones(1912-93)-a prolific Welsh symphonist
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2009, 03:21:11 PM »
My 2000th Thread :)

My belated congratulations, Colin! Your contributions have really added a lot of quality to this Forum!

See you soon(ish)!
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Daniel Jones(1912-93)-a prolific Welsh symphonist
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2009, 04:04:00 PM »
Thank you, Johan :)

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Daniel Jones(1912-93)-a prolific Welsh symphonist
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2009, 02:55:50 AM »
Yes, belated congratulations from me too Colin on your two millionth post  ;D

I have been away at my wife's grandmother's 100th birthday celebrations in North Yorkshire over the weekend and am just catching up.

I have always rather liked those Daniel Jones symphonies. I recall a very good, old BBC LP with symphonies 8 and 9 (or was it 9 and 10?) on. Like Andre, your post has encouraged me to listen again. I think that he wrote "The Country beyond the Stars" (unless that was Grace Williams -sorry to be so vague but am at work and can't check), which I liked very much indeed.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Daniel Jones(1912-93)-a prolific Welsh symphonist
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2009, 04:01:43 AM »
Yes, belated congratulations from me too Colin on your two millionth post  ;D

I have been away at my wife's grandmother's 100th birthday celebrations in North Yorkshire over the weekend and am just catching up.

I have always rather liked those Daniel Jones symphonies. I recall a very good, old BBC LP with symphonies 8 and 9 (or was it 9 and 10?) on. Like Andre, your post has encouraged me to listen again. I think that he wrote "The Country beyond the Stars" (unless that was Grace Williams -sorry to be so vague but am at work and can't check), which I liked very much indeed.

I fear that I would have to live as long as your wife's esteemed grandmother-which is not likely-to achieve two million posts, Jeffrey ;D but thank you for your kind thought :)

Lyrita took these BBC recordings of the 8th and 9th symphonies and incorporated each into the two discs they issued.

I know that you are currently at work so I shall avoid the obvious comment that if you had had the time to read my first post in the thread you would have seen my previous observation about the Cantata "The Country Beyond the Stars", which was indeed written by Daniel Jones ;D

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Daniel Jones(1912-93)-a prolific Welsh symphonist
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2009, 08:25:20 AM »
I fear that I would have to live as long as your wife's esteemed grandmother-which is not likely-to achieve two million posts, Jeffrey ;D but thank you for your kind thought :)

Lyrita took these BBC recordings of the 8th and 9th symphonies and incorporated each into the two discs they issued.

I know that you are currently at work so I shall avoid the obvious comment that if you had had the time to read my first post in the thread you would have seen my previous observation about the Cantata "The Country Beyond the Stars", which was indeed written by Daniel Jones ;D

Oops, yes sorry Colin - all been a bit of a rush today. Daniel Jones is a serious, thoughtful composer whose scores repay repeated attention. I will try to listen to some of his music again over the next few days and report back.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Lilas Pastia

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Re: Daniel Jones(1912-93)-a prolific Welsh symphonist
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2009, 07:05:16 PM »
As an aside, be sure to check out Jones's contemporary, William Mathias (1934-1992), a leading Welsh composer, whose major works have been recorded by Nimbus and Lyrita. Some info:

http://www.musicweb-international.com/mathias/index.htm

Another one of my favourite composers from the UK. His concertos in particular (or at least what I know of them, from the Lyrita release) are unsung minor masterpieces. Very good symphonies too, but on a much more modest scale than, say, Alwyn's.

Offline cilgwyn

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Re: Daniel Jones(1912-93)-a prolific Welsh symphonist
« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2011, 10:18:48 AM »
After disrupting the Havergal Brian thread with my enthusiasm for Daniel Jones I was encouraged to discover that I have a fellow admirer in Dundonnell. The more I listen to these cd's the more I get out of these symphonies. It is sad that even in Wales,Jones's symphonies and major works are neglected,even in these devolved times when you would think that there would be renewed enthusiam here for composers of this quality,who are indeed part of our  cultural identity and history. In fact,I would go so far as to say that his best symphonies should be a regular occurrence in our concert halls here. So much for the so called BBC National Orchestra of Wales. They are a wonderful orchestra,but in terms of our own repertory,they strike me as a bit of a bad joke.
Grace Williams and David Wynne are similarly neglected.

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Daniel Jones(1912-93)-a prolific Welsh symphonist
« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2011, 01:05:41 PM »
Sad, isn't it :'(

It does seem as if Jones is currently in that state of limbo into which composers who have died seem to descend until such time as they are "re-discovered". Jones has been dead now for almost twenty years and it is high time this rediscovery started ;D Fortunate indeed the composer who lives long enough, as Havergal Brian and Richard Arnell did, to actually witness a renaissance in interest whilst he is still alive.

The sadly missed Bryden Thomson was obviously keen on the music of Daniel Jones. So too was Sir Charles Groves. Groves is a bit forgotten these days but he did a tremendous job for British composers during his career.

I happen to like some Hoddinott too. The trouble with Hoddinott is that he was far too prolific, churning out compositions for every one of your many music festivals, but at his best his music-quite 'tough' though some of it is- can be darkly impressive. I am a great admirer of the Sixth Symphony which Bryden Thomson recorded for Chandos. It is Hoddinott in more accessible mode. But there is so much more Hoddinott I simply don't know-including any of the later symphonies. It is all very well for the BBC to name the hall in the Wales Millennium Centre as the 'BBC Hoddinott Hall', very kind, very generous etc..........but absolutely no substitute for playing and recording the guy's music!!
« Last Edit: September 02, 2011, 01:07:18 PM by Dundonnell »

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: Daniel Jones(1912-93)-a prolific Welsh symphonist
« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2011, 02:26:52 PM »
It is all very well for the BBC to name the hall in the Wales Millennium Centre as the 'BBC Hoddinott Hall', very kind, very generous etc..........but absolutely no substitute for playing and recording the guy's music!!


Knowing advertising agencies, I think the alliteration was responsible for the name. It's only a matter of time before there is a Mathias Mall in Aberystwyth.
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Daniel Jones(1912-93)-a prolific Welsh symphonist
« Reply #13 on: September 02, 2011, 02:52:07 PM »

Knowing advertising agencies, I think the alliteration was responsible for the name. It's only a matter of time before there is a Mathias Mall in Aberystwyth.

 ;D ;D ;D

Offline cilgwyn

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Re: Daniel Jones(1912-93)-a prolific Welsh symphonist
« Reply #14 on: September 02, 2011, 03:04:15 PM »
I expect some record label will get around to him eventually! But we may have a bit of a wait!!! I remember getting the Hoddinott symphony you mention out of the library some years ago. It was on a cassette. I am not so familiar with Hoddinott,(tut! tut!),but part of the problem I have with the music I have heard is that while some appeals to me,some does not. One that I did enjoy was Hoddinott's Seventh,which I downloaded from somewhere. It incorporates an organ and tuned percussion and I'm going to have to listen to it again. I notice that there is a review of a concert of this symphony on the 'Music & Vision' site.
Of other and more recent Welsh composers,I have enjoyed music by Huw Watkins,Rhian Samuel and Pwyll ap Sion,but I can't say I'm an expert on their music!
   Interesting how some Welsh composers seem to be inspired by Martinu. I have listened to passages of music by Mathias and Rhian Samuel which bring the Czech composer immeadiately to mind.

Offline cilgwyn

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Re: Daniel Jones(1912-93)-a prolific Welsh symphonist
« Reply #15 on: September 02, 2011, 03:17:33 PM »
With a bit of help from Johan,if necessary, I could provide a link to  Hoddinott's Seventh & Jones's Second and Twelfth symphonies,if anyone has not heard these and is interested. But not tonight as I'm a bit knackered! I thought Hoddinott's Seventh was rather striking,but I need another listen.
Incidentally,regarding Huw Watkins 'Sinfonietta' which I have on cassette & like Korngolds,is more like a full scale symphony,in terms of scale. Maybe,it was just my imagination,but parts of it reminded me of Havergal Brian. I wonder if he's heard him?
« Last Edit: September 02, 2011, 03:19:40 PM by cilgwyn »

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: Daniel Jones(1912-93)-a prolific Welsh symphonist
« Reply #16 on: September 02, 2011, 03:19:25 PM »
I remember borrowing a Hoddinott LP from the library. On the cover was some cosmic image. Perhaps one of you know which symphony I will have been listening to. It did have power.
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: Daniel Jones(1912-93)-a prolific Welsh symphonist
« Reply #17 on: September 02, 2011, 03:20:56 PM »
With a bit of help from Johan,if necessary, I could provide a link to  Hoddinott's Seventh & Jones's Second and Twelfth symphonies,if anyone has not heard these and is interested. But not tonight as I'm a bit knackered! I thought Hoddinott's Seventh was rather striking,but I need another listen.
Incidentally,regarding Huw Watkins 'Sinfonietta' which I have on cassette & like Korngolds,is more like a full scale symphony,in terms of scale. Maybe,it was just my imagination,but parts of it reminded me of Havergal Brian. I wonder if he's heard him?


I'd love to hear some Hoddinott and Jones! I'll help you, if you need help, you're a pro now... But - no rush!
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Daniel Jones(1912-93)-a prolific Welsh symphonist
« Reply #18 on: September 02, 2011, 03:23:55 PM »
I agree that some Hoddinott can be pretty tough going ;D

He wrote much of his music at night of course(he taught at University College, Cardiff during the day) and seems to have been inspired to write a lot of 'night music'. There are lighter pieces written for various state and other occasions-the Welsh Dances for example-but in so many of his other pieces there is not much in the way of 'relaxation'. His is not the sort of music you can half-listen to. The three symphonies on Lyrita(Nos. 2, 3 and 5) can be pretty difficult to assimilate without repeated hearings.

He is a composer I feel that I should like better ;D

His work list is frightening!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alun_Hoddinott

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Daniel Jones(1912-93)-a prolific Welsh symphonist
« Reply #19 on: September 02, 2011, 03:25:53 PM »
With a bit of help from Johan,if necessary, I could provide a link to  Hoddinott's Seventh & Jones's Second and Twelfth symphonies,if anyone has not heard these and is interested. But not tonight as I'm a bit knackered! I thought Hoddinott's Seventh was rather striking,but I need another listen.
Incidentally,regarding Huw Watkins 'Sinfonietta' which I have on cassette & like Korngolds,is more like a full scale symphony,in terms of scale. Maybe,it was just my imagination,but parts of it reminded me of Havergal Brian. I wonder if he's heard him?

Oh, yes please :)

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