Mansel Thomas (1909 -1986)

Mansel Thomas (1909-1986) was one of the most important and influential musicians of his generation in Wales. Born in Pontygwaith in the Rhondda Fach, he displayed his natural talents as a composer and pianist from childhood, and at the age of 15 he won the Rhondda Scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in London, under the wing of composer Benjamin Dale, graduating in 1930. He joined the BBC in Cardiff in 1936 as a music producer and assistant conductor of the BBC Welsh Orchestra, and in 1950 was appointed Head of Music, BBC Wales.
In 1965 he decided to take early retirement to devote himself to composition where he entered the most prolific phase of his career, forming two thirds of his entire solo vocal output. Early in his career he showed a remarkable ability for song-writing, which was to remain one of his most cherished art-forms and which resulted in over 150 song compositions and arrangements. Amongst the most renowned is Y Bardd (The Bard), which reflects the solemn atmosphere of R. Williams Parry’s well-known englynion Hedd Wyn. This song inspired in the composer an intensity of poignancy and pathos that were rare in his entire output. As William Mathias once remarked “…if there is another haunting setting of Welsh words I do not know it.” Mansel Thomas’ stature as a Welsh composer remains undiminished, and for his services to British music he was awarded the OBE and the PRAM.
He left an enormous and invaluable legacy of compositions, the extent of which was not known even to his own family until after his death.

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