Born 30 December 1848, at Trecastle, Brecknock, of humble parentage; his father's death deprived him of early advantages. Apprenticed to the tailoring trade, his bent towards the study of music was irresistible. He was soon caught up by the enthusiasm of the Tonic Solfa movement, and, although self-taught, his early efforts revealed distinct talent for composition. In 1874 he enrolled as a student at Aberystwyth College under Joseph Parry, and graduated Mus.Bac. at Cambridge in 1878. Shortly after the University of Wales had received its Charter in 1893, he was appointed lecturer in the newly-formed Music Department at Aberystwyth, and in 1910 was made Professor, a post which he held until his death.
During his active professional life he became a prominent figure at the national and other important eisteddfodau, and was held in high regard as conductor of hymn-singing festivals. His interest in church music was deep and sincere, and his influence on congregational singing did much to raise the general taste. It can be fairly asserted that some of his hymntunes have sung themselves into the heart of Welsh psalmody, and will assuredly endure.
He was a very prolific composer. His published works ranged from the smaller vocal forms to the wider field of oratorio and cantata. Among his best known choral works are ‘Arch y Cyfamod,’ ‘Job,’ ‘Yr Ystorm,’ and ‘The Psalm of Life.’ The last-named work was expressly written for the Cardiff Triennial Festival (1895), and also performed in the same year by 2,000 singers at the Crystal Palace, London.
A frequent contributor to the Welsh press, he was for many years editor of Y Cerddor. He died at his home, Castell Brychan, Aberystwyth, 10 December 1915.
Published date: 1959
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