Mansel Thomas: famed musician and composer

Collections / music - Posted 11-06-2019

This week, the National Library commemorates 110 years since the birth of Mansel Thomas, one of Wales’s consummate composers and musicians. Born on 12 June 1909 in the Rhondda, he made his mark as an influential musician. He worked for the BBC for thirty years with the recently-formed BBC Welsh Orchestra and as the Head of Music for BBC Wales. This is an opportunity for us to celebrate his life and his notable contribution to music in Wales on what would have been his birthday.

An exhibition of some of the work of Mansel Thomas from the Library’s collections will be on display in the Summer’s Room to accompany a talk by Terence Gilmore-James on the man himself on 12 June 2019. The exhibition will include:

  • Music workbook compiled during the period 1918-1925, with the earliest pieces copied with the help of his father, Theophilus Thomas. (Mansel Thomas Music Manuscripts, J1/1)
  • A volume containing the full score of the cantata ‘God is our hope and strength’ with words from the 46th Psalm, submitted as part of his B.Mus. degree from Durham University, [1930]. ]. (Mansel Thomas Music Manuscripts, J1/60)
  • The wining composition for composing Six unison songs with simple accompaniment suitable for infants’ schools at The Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales Aberafan-Port Talbot, 1932. (Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru – cyfansoddiadau a beirniadaethau, 1932/39)
  • Manuscript score of ‘To Daffodils (Cennin Aur)’, composed in the mid/late 1920s especially for the newly-formed Pendyrus Male Choir. (Mansel Thomas Music Manuscripts, M1/1)
  • Vocal score of the anthem ‘Blest are the pure in heart’, composed by Mansel Thomas ‘For Terence and Grace on the Occasion of their Wedding’, 1965. (Mansel Thomas Music Manuscripts, P2/14)
  • Orchestral score ‘God bless the Prince of Wales’ by Brinley Richards, arranged and orchestrated by Mansel Thomas for ‘For the Investiture of HRH The Prince of Wales, Caernarvon, July 1969’. (Mansel Thomas Music Manuscripts, M4/2i)
  • Preliminary sketches of a vocal score for ‘Requiem’ composed by Mansel Thomas. Also, some related letters from Megan Thomas, the composer’s wife, to Ian Parrott, discussing the printing of the first movement. (Mansel Thomas Music Manuscripts, P2/18; UW Aberystwyth Department of Music Archives, 18/2)
  • The vocal score of ‘Mass for mixed voices’ in five movements and an arrangement for solo voice and string orchestra of ‘Wrth fynd efo Deio i Dowyn’, 1943. (Mansel Thomas Music Manuscripts, P2/17; T2/11.)

The Mansel Thomas Music Manuscripts have recently been cataloged as part of the Welsh Music Archive Program. You can view the archive descriptions on the Mansel Thomas Catalogue record. Further information about his life and work is available in the Brenin y Cennin Aur blog post (Welsh only).

Robert Evans
Welsh Music Archive Project Officer

This post is also available in: Welsh

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A blog about the work and collections of the National Library of Wales.

Due to the more personal nature of blogs it is the Library's policy to publish postings in the original language only. An equal number of blog posts are published in both Welsh and English, but they are not the same postings. For a translation of the blog readers may wish to try facilities such as Google Translate.

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