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William Mathias CBE (1 November 193429 July 1992) was a Welshmarker composer.

Brief biography

Mathias was born in Whitlandmarker, Carmarthenshiremarker. A child prodigy, he started playing the piano aged three, and composing aged five. He studied at the Royal Academy of Musicmarker under Lennox Berkeley, where he was elected a Fellow in 1965. In 1968, he received the Bax Society Prize of the Harriet Cohen International Music Award. He was professor of music and head of department at the University of Wales, Bangormarker from 1970 until 1988.

His compositions include large scale works including an opera The Servants (1980), three symphonies and three piano concertos. Much of his music was written for the Anglican choral tradition, most famously the anthem Let the people praise Thee, O God written for the July 1981 royal wedding of the Prince and Princess of Wales, which had a television audience of an estimated 1 billion people worldwide.

Mathias wrote his Sinfonietta – initially called Dance Suite – for the Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra in late 1966 and it received its first performance at Leicestermarker De Montfort Hallmarker during the 1967 Schools Festival. It was also included in the orchestra's tour programme for Denmarkmarker and Germanymarker later in the year. The LSSO made the first commercial recording of Sinfonietta for the Pye Golden Guinea label in July 1967 under the direction of the composer (see external links below).

He founded the North Wales International Music Festival in St Asaphmarker in 1972 and directed it until his death in 1992.

He is buried outside St Asaph Cathedralmarker.

List of works

Choral Works

  • All Thy Wisdom Shall Praise Thee for choir and organ Op.17b
  • Make a joyful noise Op.26 no.2
  • Festival Te Deum for choir and organ Op.28
  • O Sing Unto the Lord for choir and organ Op.29
  • Three Medieval Lyrics for choir and instrumental ensemble Op.33
  • An Admonition to Rulers' Op.43
  • Psalm 150 for choir and orchestra Op.44
  • Lift Up Your Heads, O Ye Gates Op.44 no.2
  • Ave Rex Op. 45
  • Sir Christemas (Part of Ave Rex Op.45)
  • O Salutaris Hostia for male voices Op.48
  • Bless the Lord for choir and organ Op.51
  • Gloria for male voices and organ Op.52
  • Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis "Jesus service" Op.53 – Written for the dedication of the new organ at Jesus College, Cambridgemarker.
  • A Babe is Born Op. 55 (1971)
  • Alleluya Psallat for choir and organ Op.58
  • Elegy for a Prince for voice and orchestra Op.59
  • A Vision of Time and Eternity for contralto and piano Op.61
  • Ceremony After a Fire Raid for choir, piano and percussion Op.63
  • Missa Brevis for choir and organ Op.64
  • This Worlde's Joie Op.67
  • Missa Brevis (1973)
  • Ceremony after a Fire Raid
  • A May Magnificat Op.79 no.2
  • Jonah
  • The Fields of Praise for tenor and piano Op.74
  • A Royal Garland for choir Op.77
  • Nativity Carol Op.77 no.3 (part of A Royal Garland)
  • A May Magnificat for choir and bells Op.79 no.2
  • Shakespeare Songs for choir and piano Op.80
  • Songs of William Blake for voice, harp, piano, celesta and string orchestra Op.82
  • Rex Gloriae for choir Op.83
  • Te Deum for soprano, mezzo soprano, tenor soli, choir and orchestra Op.85
  • Let the People Praise Thee O God for choir and organ/ orchestra Op.87
  • Lux Aeterna Op.88 (no.1)
  • All Wisdom is from the Lord for choir and organ Op.88 no.3
  • Salvator Mundi for SSA, piano duet, percussion and strings Op.89
  • O Be Joyful in the Lord for choir and organ Op.90 no.2
  • Let Us Now Praise Famous Men for choir and organ/ orchestra Op.91 no.2
  • Missa Aedis Christi (in Memory of William Walton) for choir and organ Op.92
  • The Echoing Green for SSAA Op.95 no.2
  • Veni Sancte Spiritus for choir, organ, 2 trumpets and percussion Op.96
  • Let All the World in Every Corner Sing Op.96 no.2
  • Rejoice the Lamb for choir and organ Op.99 no.1
  • Cantate Domino for choir and organ (1987)
  • Riddles (1987)
  • Sweet was the Song for choir and organ (1988)
  • Jonah: A Musical Morality for baritone and tenor soli, semi chorus, choir, and orchestra (1988)
  • World's Fire for soprano and baritone soli, choir and orchestra (1989)
  • Let the People Praise Thee, O God, for the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana Spencer
  • Learsongs (1989)
  • Bell Carol for choir, brass, percussion and organ (1989)
  • The Doctrine of Wisdom for choir and organ (1990)


  • The Servants Op.81 (1980) Libretto by Iris Murdoch

Orchestral works

  • Piano Concerto No.1, Op.2
  • Divertimento for String Orchestra, Op.7 (1958)
  • Piano Concerto No.2, Op.13
  • Music for Strings, Op.14
  • Dance Overture, Op.16 (1961)
  • Invocation and Dance, Op.17 (1961)
  • Serenade for Small Orchestra, Op.18 (1963)
  • Prelude, Aria and Finale for String Orchestra, Op.25 (1964)
  • Concerto for Orchestra, Op.27
  • Symphony no. 1, Op.31 (1966)
  • Sinfonietta, Op.34 (1967)
  • Litanies, Op.37
  • Piano Concerto No.3, Op.40 (1968)
  • Festival Overture, Op.42
  • Harp Concerto, Op.50 (1970)
  • Intrada, Op.54 (1971)
  • Harpsichord Concerto, Op.56
  • Holiday Overture, Op.57
  • Celtic Dances, Op.60 (1972)
  • Laudi, Op.62 (1973)
  • Clarinet Concerto, Op.68 (1975)
  • Vistas, Op.69 (1975)
  • Dance Variations, Op.72
  • Melos, Op.73
  • Vivat Regina, Op.75 for brass band
  • Helios, Op.76 (1977)
  • Requiescat, Op.79 (1977)
  • Reflections on a Theme of Tomkins, Op.86
  • Symphony No. 2, Op.90 (Summer Music) (1983)
  • Organ Concerto, Op.91 (1984)
  • Horn Concerto, Op.93 (1984)
  • Anniversary Dances, Op.95
  • Oboe Concerto (1989)
  • Threnos (1990)
  • Symphony No. 3 (1991)
  • In Arcadia (1992)
  • Violin Concerto (1992)

Chamber Works

  • Divertimento, Op.1 for violin and Viola
  • Sonatina for clarinet and piano, Op.3
  • Violin Sonata No.1, Op.15
  • Wind Quintet op. 22 (1963)
  • Divertimento, Op.24 for flute, oboe and piano
  • Piano Trio, Op.30
  • String Quartet No.1, Op.38
  • Concertino, Op.65 for flute, oboe, bassoon and harpsichord
  • Zodiac Trio for Flute, Viola and Harp, Op.70 (1976
  • String Quartet No.2, Op.84
  • Violin Sonata No.2, Op.94
  • Sonatina for Flute & Piano Op. 98
  • String Quartet No.3 (1987)
  • Soundings for brass quintet
  • Summer Dances for brass quintet

Solo instrumental

  • Improvisations for Harp Op.10 (1960)
  • Piano Sonata no.1 Op.23 (1963)
  • Piano Sonata no.2 Op.46 (1969)
  • Sonata for Harp Op.66
  • Santa Fe Suite for harp (1988)


  • Prelude, Elegy and Toccata (1954)
  • Partita Op.19
  • Variations on a Hymn Tune Op.20
  • Postlude (1962)
  • Chorale (Easter 1966)
  • Invocations Op.35
  • Toccata Giocosa Op. 36, No. 2. Dedicated to Sir David Willcocks on the occasion of his Inauguration of the new organ at The Royal College of Organists, 7 October, 1967
  • Jubilate Op. 67, No. 2 Dedicated to Michael Smythe
  • Fantasy for Organ Op.78
  • Canzonetta Op. 78, No. 2
  • AntiphoniesOp.88 no.2
  • Berceuse Op.95 no.3
  • Processional Op. 96,(1984) Dedicated to Christopher Morris, musician, publisher, friend
  • Recessional Op. 96, No. 4.
  • Carillon
  • Fanfare
  • Fenestra


  • Liner notes by Rhiannon Mathias to Lyrita SRCD.328

External links


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