DANIEL JONES was one of Wales's best-known and most prolific composers.
He came from a family which prized music highly; his father was an able composer and his mother possessed a fine voice. Born in Pembroke, he spent his teens in Swansea, where he attended the local grammar school before reading English at the university which overlooks Swansea Bay. He became a member of a circle of talented Swansea artists ranging through literature, in the poets Dylan Thomas and Vernon Watkins, to painters such as Alfred Janes. It was a rich period in the cultural life of a Swansea described by Dylan Thomas as 'an ugly, lovely town . . . smug-suburbed by the side of a long splendid-curving shore'. In the early 1930s Daniel Jones wrote more than 40 songs, mostly settings of Thomas's early poetry. His talent blossomed when he attended the Royal Academy of Music where he studied conducting with Sir Henry Wood and composition with Harry Farjeon. Shortly before war broke out in 1939 he was awarded a Mendelssohn Scholarship enabling him to travel the Continent spending productive periods in Rome and Vienna. During the war he served as a Captain in the Intelligence Corps.
There was nothing parochial about Jones's music. He studied classical chamber music; fuelled by his interest in Oriental music and literature he composed two colourful tone poems - The Flute Player in 1942 and Cloud Messenger the following year. Four other tone poems were based on scenes from The Mabinogion, a classic of Welsh literature. Other works range from an unusual piece for the kettle drum to a wind nonet. His Symphony No 1 was completed in 1947 and first performed in Liverpool in 1948. By 1985 he had composed a dozen symphonies, which were broadcast by the BBC in 1990.
Those early Swansea days, times of creative experiment and excitement generated by the circle to which he belonged remained strong. He named his son Dylan after the famous writer, composed a radio score to Under Milk Wood in 1954, a year after Thomas's death, and produced an authoritative new edition of Thomas's poems published in 1971.
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