Daniel Jones 1912-93 

Daniel Jones yw un o’r cyfansoddwyr ôl-ryfel Cymreig, neu’n wir Brydeinig, pwysicaf. Gadawodd gorff mawr o weithiau ym mron pob maes gweithgarwch creadigol – tair symffoni ar ddeg; wyth pedwarawd llinynnol; corff mawr o gerddoriaeth siambr; cerddoriaeth achlysurol; opera (The Knife ac Orestes); sawl cantata; a choncerti – y tri mwyaf nodedig yw’r rhai ar gyfer Soddgrwth, Obo a Feiolin.

Wedi’i eni yn Abertawe, fe’i hanogwyd ar y dechrau i astudio llenyddiaeth Saesneg ym Mhrifysgol Abertawe lle graddiodd gydag anrhydeddau yn y dosbarth cyntaf gan fynd rhagddo yn nes ymlaen i gwblhau ei Radd Feistr lle bu’n astudio Canu Telynegol Oes Elisabeth. Ffrind bore oes iddo oedd Dylan Thomas, a ddaeth wedyn yn fardd adnabyddus yn rhyngwladol a phortreadir eu perthynas yn lliwgar yng nghofiant Jones, My Friend Dylan Thomas (1977). Jones a gyfansoddodd y gerddoriaeth arobryn ar gyfer Under Milk Wood ac yn nes ymlaen ef fyddai’n golygu cerddi Thomas gan gynnwys sawl enghraifft o waith cynnar y bardd. Fe ddichon i’w gemau geiriau fel ffrindiau mebyd ysbrydoli gwaith y ddau.

Yn dilyn ei astudiaethau yn Abertawe, astudiodd Jones arwain cerddoriaeth yn yr Academi Gerdd Frenhinol – dyma flynyddoedd cyntaf perfformiadau proffesiynol o’i gerddoriaeth siambr gynnar yn arbennig. Yn ystod y rhyfel, bu Jones yn enwog am ei waith yn Bletchley Park fel Capten yn yr Adran Rwseg-Japaneeg (roedd yn amlieithydd dawnus). Deilliai’r diddordeb hwn mewn cymhlethdod o’i blentyndod ac fe’i harweiniodd at ffurfio cysyniad o’r hyn a alwai’n ‘fesurau cymhleth’. Ar ôl y rhyfel, dychwelodd yn y pen draw i Abertawe lle cyfansoddwyd y rhan fwyaf o’i waith aeddfed.

Roedd ei Symffoni Gyntaf yn drobwynt mewn cerddoriaeth o Gymru pan gafodd ei pherfformio yng Ngŵyl Abertawe. Fe’i dilynwyd gan ddeuddeg symffoni arall, ynghyd ag wyth Pedwarawd Llinynnol sydd, mae’n rhaid, yn un o’r cyfresi mwyaf nodedig yng ngherddoriaeth Prydain ar ôl y rhyfel (meddyliwch am y gyfres gan Elizabeth Machonchy er enghraifft). Yr egwyddor sonata-allegro symffonig Brydeinig yw sail ei allbwn, wedi’i chyplysu ag arbrofi a dyfeisgarwch rhythmig ac iaith harmonig seiliedig ar yn hytrach na mewn tonyddiaeth.

Daniel Jones is one of the most important Welsh, or indeed British, post-war composers. He left a large body of works in virtually all spheres of creative activity – thirteen symphonies; eight string quartets; a large body of chamber music; incidental music; opera (The Knife and Orestes); several cantatas; and concertos, the three most notable of these being for Cello, Oboe, and Violin.

Born in Swansea, he was at first encouraged to study English literature in Swansea University where he graduated with first class honours, later taking his MA for the study of Elizabethan Lyric. His boyhood friend, Dylan Thomas, became the internationally known poet and their relationship is colourfully captured in Jones’s memoir My Friend Dylan Thomas (1977). Jones composed the award-winning music for Under Milk Wood and would later edit Thomas’s poems including several examples of the poet’s early work. Their word games as boyhood friends no doubt inspired both their work.

Following on from his studies in Swansea, Jones studied conducting in the Royal Academy of Music – these were the first years of professional performances of his early chamber music in particular. During the war, Jones famously worked in Bletchley Park as a Captain in the Russian-Japanese section (he was a gifted multi linguist). This interest in complexity stemmed from childhood and resulted in his formulating a concept of what he called’ complex metres’. After the war, he eventually returned to Swansea where the bulk of his mature work was composed.

His First Symphony was a watershed in Welsh music when it was performed at the Swansea Festival. There followed another twelve symphonies, together with eight String Quartets, which are surely one of the most distinguished series in post-war British music (think of the series by Elizabeth Machonchy for example). His output is of the British symphonic sonata-allegro principle, coupled with rhythmic ingenuity and experimentation, and a harmonic language based on rather than in tonality.

 

+44 (0)29 2063 5640 / enquiries@tycerdd.org 

Tŷ Cerdd – Music Centre Wales yn sefydliad corfforedig elusennol, Rhif Cofrestru 1152853.

Tŷ Cerdd – Music Centre Wales is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, Registration Number 1152853

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