Philip was born 4 June 1933, the son of Edgar (Eddie) and Ceinwen Jones (née Evans) of 20 Park Grove, Trecynon in Aberdare. Eddie was chief accountant of the Aberdare Co-operative Society in Plasdraw; a member of Calfaria Welsh Baptist Chapel, where he was deputy organist; and he was also treasurer of the organising committee of the Aberdare & District Juvenile Eisteddfod, (Eisteddfod Ieuenctid Cwm Cynon).
Philip spent all of his schooldays living at the Park Grove home and attended the nearby Park Schools, from 1936 until 1943. At the age of 9 years 9 months he took and passed the scholarship examination (the 11+). He consequently entered the County School in 1943 and after just four years, in 1947, at the age of fourteen, passed his School Certificate, with matriculation, in eight subjects at credit or better grades. He also had the Advanced RAM/RCM examination in piano playing at this time. After a year in 6 alpha, the lower sixth, he passed the Supplementary Certificate stage in Latin.
Although encouraging his music studies, his father insisted that he train for a secure profession. He therefore took Chemistry, Botany and Zoology in the sixth form, and he was a prefect in his final year. In 1950 he passed his Higher School Certificate and entered Guy’s Hospital at the age of 17 to study dentistry. In 1952 he ‘quietly’ obtained a scholarship at the Paris Conservatoire to study the oboe, an instrument he took up only in 1947; he duly failed his Dental exams in 1952 and went to Paris!
On his return to the UK, a year later, he was obliged to do National Service which he did in the Life Guards band (despite being only five feet tall) at the same time continuing his music studies under Jack Brymer at the Royal College of Music.
On leaving the Army his first professional appointment as oboist was with the Boyd Neel Orchestra followed by a spell at Sadler’s Wells. He then joined the BBC Welsh Orchestra as Principal Oboist, living and working in Cardiff for many years.
In 1953 he returned to Aberdare to play Handel’s Concerto Grosso No. 10 in the school concert. This took place in the Coliseum, a theatre which stands immediately to the rear of the family home in Park Grove.
After Cardiff he returned to London working as a freelance and played with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic amongst other prestigious orchestras. He later abandoned his musical career and for a time worked at Harrods in Knightsbridge. He died suddenly and prematurely aged fifty four. He had no immediate family when he died, and he was unmarried.
At his funeral James Galway was it seems, heard to say that if one had tried to engage the famous musicians who attended, the event could not have been afforded.
Text contributed by Dr. Dudley M. Bruton, also a past student at ABGS,
Dudley and Philip shared digs in London when they were students.