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Cerys Matthews on setting Dylan Thomass poems to music

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It was a Christmas in South Carolina that reawakened the musician and Radio 6 DJs love for Thomas and inspired her to mark his centenary with her most ambitious project yet

Dylan Thomas, whose centenary we will celebrate on Monday, was the most musical of poets. His work is so full of rhythm and melody that one of lifes great pleasures is to read him aloud, feeling those syllables roll around your mouth while the rhythms find their ebb and flow. It is no surprise that his poetry has exerted a special appeal to composers. It was his childhood friend Daniel Jones a fellow Kardomah boy with whom Dylan would talk Einstein and Epstein, Stravinsky and Greta Garbo, death and religion, Picasso and girls who provided music for the songs in Under Milk Wood as well as dedicating his Fourth Symphony to Dylans memory. Stravinsky himself set Do not go gentle into that good night. Later, jazz maestro Stan Tracey, composers John Corigliano, Mark Anthony Turnage and many others would be inspired by his work.

I was brought up in Swansea. Our house enjoyed almost the same view over the crescent of Swansea Bay as had Dylans childhood home in Cwmdonkin Drive. I knew about Dylan and I read his work. But the idea that I should set his work to music didnt come until about 10 years ago, when I was living far from Swansea, in South Carolina.

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