VIDEO PODCAST: Find out about composers from unusual places, including Gerard Schurmann, Giya Kancheli, Nazib Zhiganov and Nodar Gabunia, about singing in cars, and meet Jim Hutton from the RLPO and some of our regular contributors in this eighty-minute February 2021 video.
Welsh composer Daniel Jones was born in Pembroke on 7 December 1912 into a musical family - his mother sang and his father, Jenkyn Jones, composed. Daniel had written several piano sonatas by the age of nine, and also had an interest in literature. At school in Swansea he was friends with Dylan Thomas and they collaborated in writing poetry. This friendship lasted until Thomas' death, and Jones later edited Dylan Thomas' works and wrote a memoir.
Daniel Jones studied English literature at Swansea University before leaving to study music with Harry Farjeon and Henry Wood at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he won the Mendelssohn Scholarship and was able to study in Czechoslovakia, France, Germany and the Netherlands.
During World War II, Jones worked at Bletchley Park as a cryptographer, decoding Japanese, Romanian and Russian texts, and afterwards became established as a composer. His Symphonic Prologue won the Royal Philharmonic Society's first prize in 1950, and from then on he mostly worked to commission.
From 1945 until 1985 he wrote a series of twelve symphonies, each based on one of the semitones of the chromatic scale. and in 1992 wrote another symphony in memory of his friend John Fussell, director of the Swansea Festival. He also set Henry Vaughan's poem The Country Beyond the Stars, and wrote eight string quartets.
He devised his own system of 'complex metres' for composition, and this was also used in a slighty adapted form, by German composer Boris Blacher.
Daniel Jones died in Swansea on 23 April 1993, aged eighty.
Much of his music is available in recordings on the Lyrita label.
Please note that Daniel Jones is not an uncommon name, and some of the references below are to another Daniel Jones, a costume designer for Ohio Light Opera.
CD Spotlight. A Strange Beauty - Symphonies by Daniel Jones, heard by Geoff Pearce. 'The BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra delivers fine performances, as does the direction of its conductor, Bryden Thomson.'
Ensemble. In Nimble Fashion - Ohio Light Opera's 'The Queen's Lace Handkerchief', reviewed by Kelly Ferjutz
Ensemble. Joyous indeed - 'Die Fledermaus' and 'The White Horse Inn' at Ohio Light Opera, reviewed by Kelly Ferjutz