Born 31 October 1842 at Gallt-y-foel, Dinorwig, Caernarfonshire, son of Owen and Ellen Jones. After a period as pupil-teacher in Deiniolen British School he went, in 1861, to the Borough Road training college. He became assistant master at Carneddi school, Bethesda, in January 1862, and, in May 1863, headmaster of a school at Treherbert, Glamorganshire, where he spent the rest of his life. When he was at Borough Road he came to know the Tonic Solfa system of musical notation; in 1868 he became precentor of Carmel Congregational chapel, Treherbert; he also acted as the chapel organist. He composed and published a large number of anthems, part-songs, songs, and hymn-tunes. Some of his hymn-tunes are in Y Caniedydd Cynulleidfaol; he was one of the editors of the 1895 edition of that hymnal, as also of Caniedydd yr Ysgol Sul; he also edited the Solfa section of Cronicl y Cerddor, under the general editorship of D. Emlyn Evans. A choir which he conducted performed oratorios, etc., and succeeded in winning prizes at several eisteddfodau. He was also in demand as an adjudicator and as conductor of singing festivals.
M. O. Jones was also a local historian and an essay-writer who was successful several times in national and other eisteddfodau. His best known treatise, probably, is that which won for him the prize at the London national eisteddfod of 1887 and was published (under the editorship of David Emlyn Evans) in 1890 as Bywgraffiaeth Cerddorion Cymreig; Jones had written a biographical and critical history of Welsh musicians for an eisteddfod held at Aberdare in 1885 (N.L.W. MSS. 4374-5). He compiled a bibliography of Welsh music (up to 1896) for the Cardiff national eisteddfod of 1899 (N.L.W. MS. 4384). For the Cardiff national eisteddfod of 1883 he had written a history of eisteddfodau held in the 19th century (N.L.W. MS. 4376); he also prepared, for the eisteddfod held in connection with the Chicago World Fair, 1893, a historical handbook of the chief eisteddfodau up to 1892 (N.L.W. MS. 4377). All the above are in Welsh, as also are an essay on the folk-lore of Wales (N.L.W. MS. 4371) and one on ‘The Welsh Triads’ (N.L.W. MS. 4372). English essays include ‘The History of the Development of the Coal Industry in the Rhondda Valleys for the last 50 years,’ written for an eisteddfod at Treorchy, 1895 (N.L.W. MS. 4378), ‘A History of the Parish of Ystradyfodwg, Glamorgan,’ written for the Bangor national eisteddfod, 1902 (N.L.W. MS. 4383), and ‘Biographies of Penry Williams, artist, Hugh Hughes, engraver, and Joseph Edwards, sculptor, with a critical estimate of their work,’ written for the Mountain Ash national eisteddfod, 1905 (N.L.W. MS. 4373). He died 27 July 1908.
Published date: 1959
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