THOMAS, DAVID JOHN (Afan; 1881 - 1928), musician

Name: David John Thomas
Pseudonym: Afan
Date of birth: 1881
Date of death: 1928
Parent: Evan Thomas
Gender: Male
Occupation: musician
Area of activity: Music; Performing Arts
Author: William Evans

Born 15 April 1881 at Cwmafan, Glamorganshire, son of Evan Thomas (choir conductor) and his wife (who was a singer and the daughter of David Nicholas, himself a knowledgeable musician). As a boy, he learned to play the piano and violin and, later, in a Bournemouth church and at Llandaff cathedral, was taught to play the organ. He studied under many music teachers and, among them, under Dr. Joseph Parry at the University College, Cardiff. He was for twenty-five years organist at Bethesda chapel, Briton Ferry. He conducted two male voice choirs : the Brython and the Afan Glee Society. In 1920 he joined the Welsh orchestra as a violinist and at the same time conducted a local orchestra. His compositions were successful at the national eisteddfod and were performed at the eisteddfod concerts at Swansea, 1926, and Aberafan, 1932. His most ambitious work was his composition for choir and orchestra to words by Sir Henry Newbolt, ' He fell among thieves '; this was performed at Aberafan. He also wrote a cantata, ' Merch y Llyn,' words by Watcyn Wyn. Although he wrote a large number of excellent part-songs and instrumental pieces, his most popular works are his solos and hymn-tunes. He published the following solos: ' Smile a Little,' ' Drosom Ni,' ' Rock of Ages,' ' Land of the Silver Trumpets,' ' Eiluned,' ' Cymru Fach i Mi,' ' Suogan,' and ' Beth wna Ddyn '; over 100 were left in manuscript form. He also published two collections of hymn-tunes bearing the title Eirin Afan, i and ii; his tunes are also found in our hymn-books and there are sixty which have never been published. His chief characteristic and the one most evident in his compositions was his originality. He died 13 May 1928 and was buried in the parish churchyard, Cwmafan.


Published date: 1959

Article Copyright:

The Dictionary of Welsh Biography is provided by The National Library of Wales and the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies. It is free to use and does not receive grant support. A donation would help us maintain and improve the site so that we can continue to acknowledge Welsh men and women who have made notable contributions to life in Wales and beyond.

Find out more on our sponsorship page.