Grace Williams (1906-1977)

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This year marks the centenary of the birth of Grace Williams, the most significant Welsh composer of her generation, and a maverick voice in 20th century British music. During her lifetime she was criticised for a lyrical style that was out of step with fashionable trends, and subsequently her work has fallen into the sort of posthumous lull that has befallen many great composers.

Donald Macleod visits South Wales to begin a week tracing the course of Grace Williams' life and music, talking to those who knew her, including Welsh musicologists Heward Rees and Rhiannon Mathias.

Yr Eos, The Nightingale

Stephen Betteridge (piano)

BBC Singers

Ronald Corp (conductor)

Fantasia on Welsh Nursery Tunes

London Symphony Orchestra

Sir Charles Groves (conductor)

Violin Concerto

Matthew Trusler (violin)

BBC National Orchestra of Wales

Jason Lai (conductor)

Watching the Wheat

Jeremy Huw Williams (baritone)

Iain Burnside (piano).

Grace Williams (1906-1977)

1/5. This year marks the centenary of the birth of Grace Williams, the most significant Welsh composer of her generation, and a maverick voice in 20th century British music. During her lifetime she was criticised for a lyrical style that was out of step with fashionable trends, and subsequently her work has fallen into the sort of posthumous lull that has befallen many great composers.

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Grace Williams (1906-1977)

2/5. This week Donald Macleod commemorates the centenary of the birth of Grace Williams, whose music exercised huge influence on the Welsh musical landscape of the 20th century. And as Wales itself is a place strongly associated with the innate lyricism of language, it's no surprise that voices haunt the music of Grace Williams.

Today, in conversation with musicologists Heward Rees and Rhiannon Mathias, and the composer's niece Eryl Freestone, Donald Macleod takes a look at some of the Welsh voices - and characters that find their way into Grace Williams' work.

Jim Cro

Jeremy Huw Williams (baritone)

Iain Burnside (piano)

The Dancers

Eiddwen Harrhy (soprano)

Caryl Thomas (harp)

Richard Hickox Singers

City of London Sinfonia

Richard Hickox (conductor)

Ye Highlands and Ye Lowlands

Stephen Betteridge (piano)

BBC Singers

Ronald Corp (conductor)

Penillion

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Sir Charles Groves (conductor)

Mari Lwyd

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Grace Williams (1906-1977)

3/5. Apart from a few years spent in England, Grace Williams spent her entire life in Barry, the coastal town west of Cardiff where she was born. She loved the sea and the sense of the infinite it evokes, and its influence on her work is great. Donald Macleod visits the composer's home town, and talks to her niece, Eryl Freestone, and artist Ceri Thomas, who has just completed a painting of her inspired by her setting of Ave Maris Stella.

Sea Sketches

BBC National Orchestra of Wales

Owain Arwel Hughes (conductor)

Ave Maris Stella

BBC Singers

Ronald Corp (conductor)

Trumpet Concerto

Howard Snell (trumpet)

London Symphony Orchestra

Sir Charles Groves (conductor)

Thou Art the One Truth

Jeremy Huw Williams (baritone)

Iain Burnside (piano)

Apart from a few years spent in England, Grace Williams spent her entire life in Barry, the coastal town west of Cardiff where she was born. She loved the sea and the sense of the infinite it evokes, and its influence on her work is great. Today Donald Macleod visits the composer's home town, and talks to her niece, Eryl Freestone, and artist Ceri Thomas, who has just completed a painting of her inspired by her setting of Ave Maris Stella.

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The poet RS Thomas once wrote that to live in Wales is to be conscious at dusk of the spilled blood that went to the making of the wild sky - a line that evokes the sense of visceral connection to their homelands which Celtic people often seem to have. Donald Macleod continues his exploration of the work of Grace Williams, talking to musicologists Heward Rees and Rhiannon Mathias about some of the ways in which her music emerges from the Welsh landscape in which she lived.

Severn Bridge Variation

BBC Symphony Orchestra

Jac Van Steen (conductor)

Sinfonia concertante

Huw Watkins (piano)

Baldur Brönimann (conductor)

My Last Duchess

Jeremy Huw Williams (baritone)

Iain Burnside (piano)

Rhosyn Duw

BBC Singers

Ronald Corp (conductor).

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Donald Macleod concludes the week of programmes on Grace Williams by talking to Welsh musicologists Rhiannon Mathias and Heward Rees, soprano Janet Price and composer Geraint Lewis about themes of peace, yearning, love and parting in Grace Williams' music.

Peace, from Six Gerard Manley Hopkins Poems

Helen Watts (contralto)

Simon Standage and Elizabeth Shenton (violin)

Richard Williamson and Simon Whistler (viola)

John Heley and Shuna Wilson (cello)

Ballads for Orchestra

BBC Symphony Orchestra

Baldur Brönimann (conductor)

Hiraeth

Jeremy Huw Williams (baritone)

Iain Burnside (piano)

Fairest of Stars

Janet Price (soprano)

London Symphony Orchestra

Sir Charles Groves (conductor).