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)
Organizations North Wales International Music Festival

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



William 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

Choral works


Orchestral works


  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

Solo instrumental


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  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)