William Mathias

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William Mathias

William James Mathias

(1934-11-01)1 November 1934
Died29 July 1992(1992-07-29) (aged 57)
OrganizationsNorth Wales International Music Festival

William James Mathias CBE (1 November 1934 – 29 July 1992) was a Welsh composer noted for choral works.


Mathias was born in Whitland, Carmarthenshire. A child prodigy, he started playing the piano at the age of three and began composing at the age of five. At Aberystwyth University Mathias was a member of the Elizabethan Madrigal Singers and wrote 'Gloria in Excelsis Deo' for them in 1954. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music under Lennox Berkeley, where he was elected a Fellow in 1965. In 1968, he was awarded the Bax Society Prize of the Harriet Cohen International Music Award. He was professor of music and head of department in the University of Wales, Bangor, 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 (LSSO) in late 1966, and it received its first performance at Leicester De Montfort Hall during the 1967 Schools Festival. It was also included in the orchestra's tour programme for Denmark and Germany 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 Asaph in 1972 and directed it until his death, aged 57, in 1992.[1]

He died at Menai Bridge, Gwynedd and is buried at St Asaph Cathedral, St Asaph, Denbighshire, North Wales.

List of works[edit]

Choral works[edit]

  • Alleluia! Christ is Risen! (1986)[2]
  • All Thy Works Shall Praise Thee for choir and organ Op.17b
  • Saint Teilo Cantata for narrator, contralto and tenor solo, boys' and girls' choirs, mixed chorus, organ and chamber orchestra, Op.21 (Commissioned by and premièred at the 1963 Llandaff Cathedral Festival)[3]
  • Make a joyful noise Op.26 no.2
  • Festival Te Deum for choir and organ Op.28 (1964)
  • 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 (1969)
  • Ave Rex Op. 45
  • Sir Christèmas (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
  • Jesus College Service, Op. 53 (1970)
  • 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 (1973)
  • This Worlde's Joie Op.67 (1974)
  • Missa Brevis (1973)
  • Ceremony after a Fire Raid
  • 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 (1980)
  • 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 (1982)
  • 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 (1983)
  • 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
  • In excelsis Gloria for choir a cappella (1954, revised 1991)
  • Cantate Domino for choir and organ (1987)
  • Riddles (1987)
  • As Truly as God is our Father for choir and organ (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)
  • O Aula Nobilis for SSAA, trumpets, percussion, and piano duet (1989)
  • 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 Lady Diana Spencer, Op.87 (1981)
  • Learsongs (1989)
  • Bell Carol for choir, brass, percussion and organ (1989)
  • The Doctrine of Wisdom for choir and organ (1990)
  • Ave verum corpus for choir and organ (1992)


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

Orchestral works[edit]


  • Symphony no. 1, Op.31 (1966)
  • Symphony No. 2 "Summer Music", Op.90 (1983)
  • Symphony No. 3 (1991)


  • Piano Concerto No.1, Op.2 (1955; rev. 1992)
  • Piano Concerto No.2, Op.13 (1960)
  • Concerto for Orchestra, Op.27 (1964)
  • Piano Concerto No.3, Op.40 (1968)
  • Harp Concerto, Op.50 (1970)
  • Harpsichord Concerto, Op.56 (1971)
  • Clarinet Concerto, Op.68 (1975)
  • Organ Concerto, Op.91 (1984)
  • Horn Concerto, Op.93 (1984)
  • Oboe Concerto (1989)
  • Violin Concerto (1992)
  • Flute Concerto (1992)

Works for String Orchestra[edit]

  • Divertimento for String Orchestra, Op.7 (1958)
  • Music for Strings, Op.14 (1961)
  • Prelude, Aria and Finale, for String Orchestra, Op.25 (1964)
  • Threnos, for String Orchestra (1990)

Other Orchestral Works[edit]

  • Dance Overture, Op.16 (1961)
  • Invocation and Dance, Op.17 (1961)
  • Serenade for Small Orchestra, Op.18 (1963)
  • Sinfonietta, Op.34 (1967)
  • Litanies, Op.37 (1967)
  • Festival Overture, Op.42 (1969)
  • Intrada, Op.54 (1971)
  • Holiday Overture, Op.57 (1971)
  • Celtic Dances, Op.60 (1972)
  • Laudi, Op.62 (1973)
  • Vistas, Op.69 (1975)
  • Dance Variations, Op.72 (1976)
  • Melos, Op.73 (1976)
  • Vivat Regina, Suite for Brass Band, Op.75 (1977)
  • Helios, Op.76 (1977)
  • Requiescat, Op.79 (1977)
  • Reflections on a Theme of Tomkins, Op.86 (1981)
  • Anniversary Dances, Op.95 (1985)
  • In Arcadia (1992)

Chamber works[edit]

  • 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 (1953, revised 1986)
  • String Quartet No.3 (1987)
  • Soundings for brass quintet
  • Summer Dances for brass quintet

Solo instrumental[edit]

  • "Suite for Trumpet and Piano Op.4" (1956)
  • 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)
  • Sonatina for Flute Op.98 (1953)
  • Toccata alla Danza for piano (1961)


  • Prelude, Elegy and Toccata (1954)
  • Partita Op.19 (1962)
  • Variations on a Hymn Tune Op.20 (1962)
  • Postlude (1962)
  • Processional (1964)
  • Chorale (Easter 1966)
  • Invocations Op.35 (1967) Commissioned by the Dean and Chapter of Liverpool Cathedral and dedicated to Dr Noel Rawsthorne for the inauguration of the organ at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral in 1967.
  • Toccata Giocosa Op.36 No.2 (1967) 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 (1974) Dedicated to Michael Smythe
  • Fantasy Op.78 (1978)
  • Canzonetta Op.78 No.2 (1978)
  • Antiphonies Op.88 No.2 (1982)
  • Berceuse Op.95 No.3 (1985)
  • Recessional Op.96 No.4 (1986) Dedicated to Christopher Morris, musician, publisher, friend
  • Fanfare (1987)
  • Carillon (1989)
  • Fenestra (1989)


  1. ^ "Obituary: Professor William Mathias". The Independent. 30 July 1992. Retrieved 29 December 2021.
  2. ^ "Alleluia! Christ is Risen!". WorldCat. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  3. ^ Sleeve notes from William Mathias, St Teilo – London Welsh Chorale, New London Children's Choir and The British Sinfonietta. Tŷ Cerdd (2012)


External links[edit]