Jablonski, Marek (Michael)

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Jones, Daniel (Jenkyn)

(b Pembroke, 7 Dec 1912; d Swansea, 23 April 1993). Welsh composer. He began to compose during his childhood and took a degree in English literature at Swansea University (BA 1934, MA 1939) before embarking on a career in music. Between 1935 and 1939 he studied at the RAM, winning the Mendelssohn Scholarship (1935) for works he had already composed whilst a pupil at Swansea Grammar School. Jones travelled extensively in Europe during these years, enriching his experience of different musical cultures and expanding his already encyclopedic knowledge of languages. During this period he belonged to an exceptionally talented group of Swansea-based artists which included the painter Alfred Janes and the poets Dylan Thomas and Vernon Watkins. Jones remained close to Thomas and their schoolyard meeting is vividly recorded by the poet in his story The Fight. Jones wrote about their relationship and its aftermath in his book My Friend Dylan Thomas; he acted as trustee to the Thomas estate and edited the complete poems. His wartime years were spent mostly as a decoder in Bletchley Park, where his linguistic abilities were put to good use. After the war ended, Jones eventually returned to Swansea where he remained until his death. He came to wider prominence when he was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Prize (1950) for his symphonic Prologue and when Thomas’s radio play Under Milk Wood, with a score by Jones highlighting Welsh children’s rhymes and tunes, was awarded the Italia Prize (1954).

Essentially a traditionalist, Jones forged a highly individual path particularly through his metrical experiments, which were influenced by his understanding of patterns and symmetrical shapes in nature (he kept a microscope for noting plant structures). His complex metres juxtaposed phrases with time structures such as 7 + 6 + 5 + 4 + 3 + 2 + 7 in a manner which creates a characteristic ambiguity. His Kettledrum Sonata is a particularly fine example of this metrical complexity and he displays considerable ingenuity in writing for unaccompanied drums. While Jones was interested in folk music, he was not tied to his native Wales in this respect. His orchestral suite Dobrá niva (1956) is based on Slovak tunes noted on his travels. Jones realized that his Welshness was somehow inexplicably present in his works but that it was subconsciously so rather than deliberate. While he never worked in universities or the BBC, most of his commissions came from Welsh institutions and festivals.

He is at his most characteristic in the eight string quartets and the 13 symphonies (the first 12 of which are in or on each of the 12 pitches), which are central to his compositional outlook and which place him, like his near contemporary Robert Simpson, firmly within the British postwar symphonic tradition. They reveal a trenchant individualism and a dedication to craft wholly in keeping with the clarity of his intentions, while sharing an artistic ethos close to that of his Swansea-based colleagues. The Symphony no.4 (1954), written in memory of Dylan Thomas, is one of his finest works. A contained lyrical intensity, a readiness to adopt and develop traditional sonata structures and (in the scherzos) sheer spirit are notable features of symphonies nos.5–9. His string quartets often develop terse initial statements with great rigour and attention to detail. Lyricism is also a feature of his choral music and in a work like The Country Beyond the Stars (1958) he displays great sensitivity and practicality in writing for the choral means at hand. His basic thematic material is not always highly individual, but his working out of basic material always corresponds with what he described as a Welsh love of ‘structural intricacy … and a tendency to clothe the underlying pattern in a disguise of improvisatory effect’.


Syms.: no.1, 1945; no.2, 1950; no.3, 1951; no.4 ‘In Memory of Dylan Thomas’, 1954; no.5, 1958; no.6, 1964; no.7, 1972; no.8, 1972; no.9, 1974; no.10, 1981; no.11 ‘In memoriam George Froom Tyler’, 1983; no.12, 1985; no.13 ‘In memoriam John Fussell’, 1992

Other orch: Prologue, 1938; 5 Pieces, 1939; Comedy Ov., 1943; Cloud Messenger, 1944 [after Kalidasa]; The Flute Player, 1947 [after Lady Murasaki: The Tale of Genji]; Miscellany, 20 pieces, small orch, 1947; Concert Ov., 1951; Ieuenctid [Youth], ov., 1956; Dobrá niva, suite, 1956; Capriccio, fl, hp, str, 1965; Vn Conc., 1966; Investiture Processional Music, 1969; Prelude: The Witnesses, 1971; Sinfonietta no.1, 1972; Dance Fantasy, 1976; Prelude, 1977; Salute to Dylan Thomas, suite, 1978; Ob Conc., ob, str, 1982; Vc Conc., 1986; Fantasia: Whither, O Whither art Thou Fled?, 1987; Orpheus and Bacchus, ov., 1989; Sinfonietta no.2, 1991

Ops: The Knife (Jones), 1961, London, 1962; Orestes (Jones, after Aeschylus), 1967

Radio score: Under Milk Wood (D. Thomas), 1954

Other vocal: The Country Beyond the Stars (cant., H. Vaughan), chorus, orch, 1958; O Lord, have Thou Respect, anthem, chorus, 1960; St Peter (orat, Bible; Latin hymns, trans. Jones), S, T, B, chorus, orch, 1962; The Ballad of the Standard Bearer (Jones, after R.M. Rilke), T, pf, 1969; The Three Hermits (Jones, after L. Tolstoy), chorus, org, 1969; Triptych (W. Blake, J. Donne), chorus, pf, 1969; The Witnesses, male chorus, orch, 1971; Môr [The Sea] (G. Thomas), chorus, pf, 1971; Hear the Voice of the Ancient Bard, SATB, orch, 1977; To Night, SATB, pf, 1978; Laughing Song, SATB, 2 tpt, 2 trbn, 1979; Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life, T, SATB, orch, 1987

Str qts: no.1, 1946; no.2, 1957; no.3, 1975; no.4, 1978; no.5, 1980; no.6, 1982; no.7, 1988; no.8, 1993 [posth. ed. G. Easterbrook and M. Binney]

Chbr and solo inst: 24 Bagatelles, 3 sets, pf, 1943–55; Str Trio, 1945; Sonata, vc, 1946; Kettledrum Sonata, 1947; 8 Pieces, vn, va, 1948; Septet, fl, ob, cl, b cl, bn, hn, tpt, 1949; Suite, va, vc, 1949; Sonata, 4 trbn, 1955; Divertimento, str, perc, 1970; Str Trio, 1970; Toccata, org, 1972; Sonata, vc, pf, 1973; Prelude ‘A Refusal to Mourn’, org, 1978; Suite, fl, hpd, 1979; Divertimento, wind qnt, 1990

Principal publishers: Maecenas, Lienau, Novello, U. of Wales Press

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