It’s the eightieth birthday of the Welsh composer William Mathias, who died in 1992. His most famous composition, the anthem “Let the people praise thee, o God”, was commissioned for the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Di in 1981. Eight or nine years later, I must have heard it somewhere and had my adolescent mind blown, because when I found out the adult choir at church was going to be singing it in fall 1990, I made up my mind to join, and all the rest followed from there.
We don’t always stay in love with our musical first crushes, but I’m not ashamed of this one holds up well. The “funky” harmonic progressions that I found so difficult at fourteen sound routine now, maybe even a little cliché-Anglican. And yes, the sophisticated rap on Mathias, I guess, is that he kept going back to the same small bag of tricks-but all the same I’m a sucker for the result.
I rarely run into William Mathias’s work outside of church, but he wrote a lot of it. (An opera, The Servants, had a libretto by no less than Iris Murdoch.) Here’s his flute sonatina.
Diolch yn fawr!