H. Canning: ‘Della Jones’, Opera, xli (1990), 1159–64
Jones, Edward (i)
(fl 1687–1706). English music printer. Between 1688 and 1697 he did much of the printing for Henry Playford. His press produced six editions of The Banquet of Music, the first two books of Harmonia sacra, and one or two of the Playford family's bestsellers, like The Dancing Master (1690 and 1695) and An Introduction to the Skill of Music (1694 and 1697). He also worked for other publishers and ultimately became King's Printer. He had his premises at the Savoy in London. (Humphries-SmithMP)
Jones, Edward (ii) [‘Bardd y Brenin’]
(b Llandderfel, Wales, bap. 29 March 1752; d London, 18 April 1824). Welsh harper, historian and composer. He left Merionethshire to start a career in London in 1774 or early 1775; he was a skilful harper and had a strong interest in Welsh poetry and customs. Fanny Burney noted in her diary in May 1775 that he had a fine instrument but that although he played with neatness and delicacy his performance lacked expression. He soon established himself as a player – in the Bach-Abel concerts, for example, for which he composed many dances and songs – and as a teacher of the harp in aristocratic circles. From about 1788 (with the publication of his Three Sonnets Now Most in Vogue at Paris) to 1820 he styled himself variously ‘Harper’ or ‘Bard’ to His Royal Majesty the Prince of Wales, a title he subsequently changed to ‘The King’s Bard’ (or in Welsh ‘Bardd y Brenin’). His compositions are contained in some 38 publications. His sonatas, marches and popular dances, which with only two exceptions are for harp or solo keyboard, are derivative and undistinguished, but his technical facility is apparent from them and particularly from his Musical Remains (1796), arrangements of compositions by Handel, J.C. Bach, Abel and others. He clearly had some success as a composer of drawing-room songs, publishing a variety in English, French and Italian, while his interest in the characteristics of the music of other nations is shown in his collections of national airs (of Malta, Holland, Sweden, Switzerland and others). His Lyric Airs (1804) contains a long and careful essay on the origin of music in ancient Greece.
It is for his work as a historian and recorder of Welsh music that Edward Jones is significant. In Musical and Poetical Relicks of the Welsh Bards (1784), The Bardic Museum (1802) and Hên Ganiadau Cymru (1820) he published 209 different melodies, most of them Welsh. He gathered them from manuscripts in the homes of the gentry and tune books of harpers and fiddlers; some were sent to him by his numerous correspondents and some he noted from oral tradition. Among the tunes are display pieces for the harp, usually in the form of variations, and dance tunes. Jones was also the first to print Welsh words to Welsh folksongs: three appear in the 1784 volume and there are six more in the second edition (1794), including such favourites as ‘Ar hyd y nos’ (‘All Through the Night’) and ‘Nôs Galan’ (‘Deck the Halls’). Some of these were undoubtedly sung in the Welsh style called canu penillion (see Wales, II, 3(i). In the introduction to Relicks (2/1794) Jones writes:
There are several kinds of Pennill metres, that may be adapted and sung to most of the following tunes; and some part of a tune being occasionally converted into a symphony. One set of words is not, like an English song, confined to one tune, but commonly sung to several.
Although most of the pieces in Edward Jones's collection probably originate no earlier than the 18th century some have an older pedigree. Among these is a transcription of the tablature ‘Cainge Dafydd Brophwyd’ in the Robert ap Huw manuscript, as well as tunes copied from 16th-century manuscripts no longer extant or mentioned in musical treatises of the same period.
Besides bearing the cost of publishing, in elegant folio editions, important works on his nation’s music and its bardic tradition, Jones encouraged Welsh poets and musicians to develop their arts through the competitive eisteddfod. He adjudicated harp-playing competitions, often putting up the prizes himself, beginning at Corwen and Bala in 1789. His collection of rare books, manuscripts and musical instruments, sold by auction in 1824 and 1825, fetched about £800.