Daniel Jones (composer)
|Birth name||Daniel Jenkyn Jones|
7 December 1912|
23 April 1993 (aged 80)|
Daniel Jenkyn Jones OBE (7 December 1912 – 23 April 1993) was a Welsh composer of classical music, who worked in Britain. He used both serial and tonal techniques. He is best known for his quartets and thirteen symphonies (some composed in his own system of 'Complex Metres') and for his song settings for Dylan Thomas's play, "Under Milk Wood".
Jones was born in Pembroke in south Wales. His father, Jenkyn Jones, was a composer and his mother a singer, and by the time he was nine years old the young Daniel had himself written several piano sonatas.
He attended the Bishop Gore School in Swansea (1924–1931), where his enthusiasm for literature led to a close friendship with the poet Dylan Thomas, and to his going on to study English literature at Swansea University. At this period Jones and Thomas were part of the informal group of aspiring artists who would meet at the Kardomah cafe in Castle Street, Swansea. Other members of the group were the poet Vernon Watkins and the painter Alfred Janes. In 1935 Jones left Swansea to study music at the Royal Academy of Music in London (1935–1938), where his teachers included Sir Henry Wood and Harry Farjeon. Winning the Mendelssohn Scholarship in 1935 allowed him to study in Czechoslovakia, France, the Netherlands and Germany, and to develop his skills as a linguist.
In 1937 Jones married Penelope Eunice Bedford, with whom he would have three daughters. In the years leading up to World War II he composed his first large-scale orchestral works – 'Symphonic Prologue' and 'Five Pieces for Orchestra' – and developed his own compositional system of 'Complex Metres'.
During the War, as a captain in the Intelligence Corps (1940–1946), he used his linguistic abilities at Bletchley Park codes centre as a cryptographer and a decoder of Russian, Romanian and Japanese texts. In 1944 Jones married his second wife, Irene Goodchild, with whom he would have one son and one daughter.
After the War, Jones won increasing recognition as an innovative composer. In 1950 his "Symphonic Prologue" won the first prize of the Royal Philharmonic Society, and thereafter most of his compositions were written to commission – from the Festival of Britain, the Swansea Festival, the Royal National Eisteddfod, the BBC, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Llandaff Festival. Between 1945 and 1985 he composed his series of twelve symphonies, each centred on one semi-tone of the chromatic scale, and in 1992 his unnumbered "Symphony In Memoriam John Fussell" (his friend, the Director of the Swansea Festival). By 1993 he had composed eight string quartets, as well as works in many other genres, including the cantata, The Country Beyond the Stars, a setting of Henry Vaughan's poem.
Jones enjoyed long friendships with several artists, among them Vernon Watkins, Ceri Richards and Grace Williams, and, most closely, Dylan Thomas. As well as composing song-settings for Thomas's Under Milk Wood (1954) and dedicating his fourth symphony (1954) to Thomas's memory, he edited collections of Thomas's poetry and prose, and in 1977 published the memoir, My Friend Dylan Thomas.
In 1968 Jones was awarded an OBE.
He died in Swansea in 1993. His archive is held at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth. An oil portrait of Jones by Alfred Janes is held by the National Museum Cardiff; a photographic portrait by Bernard Mitchell (1967) is held by the National Portrait Gallery, London.
In 2008 the actor Adrian Metcalf and composer Rob Marshall drew on the compositions and writings of Jones and Thomas in their tribute, "Warmley" (named after Daniel Jones's boyhood home).
By 1936, Jones had devised his own compositional system of Complex Metres, which was fully developed in his "Sonata for Three Non-Chromatic Kettle-Drums" (1947). In 1950, he described this system: 'The unifying element of fixed pattern is present, but the pattern itself is asymmetrical, therefore with a powerful means of satisfying structural requirements there would seem to be possible both a greater variety and a greater subtlety in the rhythm-metre relationship'. Jones's system was adapted in Germany by the composer Boris Blacher. For Jones himself his complex structures had always to be allied with emotive intention. As is the case with other composers who used both serial techniques and tonality, Jones's music may for a time have seemed too advanced for traditionalists and too old-fashioned for the avant-garde.
Chronological list of works
- 1938 Symphonic Prologue
- 1939 Five Pieces for Orchestra
- 1943 Comedy Overture
- 1944 Cloud Messenger, orchestra
- 1944-5 Symphony No 1
- 1946 Solo Cello Sonata
- 1946 String Quartet No 1
- 1947 Miscellany, 20 pieces for small orchestra
- 1947 Sonata for Three Non-Chromatic Kettledrums
- 1947 The Flute Player, orchestra
- 1949 Suite for viola and cello
- 1950 Symphony No 2
- 1951 Concert Overture No 2
- 1951 Symphony No 3
- 1954 Symphony No 4, In memoriam Dylan Thomas
- 1954 Under Milk Wood, incidental music for Dylan Thomas
- 1955 Bagatelles for piano
- 1956 Ieuenctid, overture
- 1957 String Quartet No 2
- 1958 Symphony No 5
- 1958 The Country Beyond the Stars, cantata after Henry Vaughan
- 1961 The Knife, opera
- 1962 St Peter, oratorio
- 1964 Symphony No 6
- 1965 Capriccio for Flute, Harp and Strings
- 1966 Severn Bridge Variation for orchestra (composite work with others)
- 1966 Violin Concerto
- 1967 Orestes, opera
- 1969 Investiture Processional Music
- 1970 String Trio
- 1971 Symphony No 7
- 1972 Cello Sonata
- 1972 Sinfonietta No 1
- 1972 Symphony No 8
- 1974 Symphony No 9
- 1974 Toccata and Fugue for organ
- 1975 String Quartet No 3
- 1976 Dance Fantasy, orchestra
- 1978 String Quartet No 4
- 1980 String Quartet No 5
- 1980 Symphony No 10
- 1982 String Quartet No 6
- 1982 Oboe Concerto
- 1983 Symphony No 11, In memoriam G F Tyler
- 1985 Symphony No 12
- 1986 Cello Concerto
- 1987 String Quartet No 7
- 1988 Sonata for Four Trombones
- 1990 Divertimento for Wind Quintet
- 1992 Sinfonietta No 2
- 1992 Symphony in memoriam John Fussell (Symphony No 13)
- 1993 String Quartet No 8, unfinished, performing edition by Malcolm Binney & Giles Easterbrook
- Daniel Jones, Symphonies 4, 7, 8 (remastered on Lyrita SRCD 329)
- Daniel Jones, Symphonies 6, 9, and The Country Beyond the Stars (remastered on Lyrita SRCD 326)
- Daniel Jones, Complete string quartets (Chandos CHAN 9535)
- Daniel Jones, Dance Fantasy [and works by A. Hoddinott and W. Mathias] (Lyrita SRCD 334).
- National Library of Wales Daniel Jones Archive: Context
- Lewis, Geraint (28 April 1993). "Obituary: Daniel Jones". The Independent. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
- "The Score", June 1950.
- Barnett, Rob (2007). "CD Review". musicweb-international.com. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
- Clements, Dominy (2006). "CD Review". musicweb-international.com. Retrieved 16 February 2012.