A babe is born - William Mathias (1934-1992)

William Mathias' music has a unique blend of traditional texts set to zesty contemporary melodies and accompaniments. The Welsh composer, born in 1934, was fed and nurtured by a cultural tradition that was steeped in choral music. Mathias' contribution to the choral repertoire is among the most important of any British composer since Vaughan Williams, ranging from works for liturgical use to major choral and orchestral works. His voluminous output includes three each of symphonies, string quartets and piano concertos, as well as concertos for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, violin, harp, harpsichord and organ. He also composed numerous works for solo organ. Mathias spent his professional life in Wales - first as Lecturer in music at the University of Wales, Bangor (1959-68) then as Professor and Head of Department there from 1970 until his retirement in 1988. As well as serving on many influential committees, he founded the North Wales Music Festival at St. Asaph Cathedral in 1972 and remained its Artistic Director until his death in 1992.

A favourite of cathedral choirs in England, Mathias is known for his infectious use of rhythmic energy and bold harmonic shifts. This combination creates a musical language that is wildly original. Mathias’ sound-world makes his music as easily identifiable as that of Bach, Handel or Mozart.  A Babe Is Born is a good example of his fine craftsmanship with exhilarating cross rhythms and variety of colour.

 

Page created 23 November, 2008 by Ian Downie