Born 18 February 1891, at Llanarthne, Carmarthenshire, son of a coalminer, and the youngest of seven children, but he lost his parents (Richard and Rachel Morris) when he was young. He went to work in the New Cross Hands coalmine when he was 12 years old, and stayed there until he decided to devote himself entirely to music in 1916. He took an interest in music very early in life, and studied first under local teachers, and then under D. Vaughan Thomas at Swansea. After becoming A.R.C.M. in 1918 a concert was arranged to assist him to further his education. He went to the Royal Academy of Music in London later that year where he studied till 1922, gaining the Oliveria Prescott prize for composition and receiving the special commendation of Edward Elgar. He graduated Mus.Bac. in 1923, and received a D.Mus. degree of the University of New York in 1943.
He declined posts at the Royal Academy of Music and in Canada in 1923, and spent his career as organist and choirmaster in three churches in Wales, namely at the church in Union St., Carmarthen (until 1926), Soar, Merthyr Tydfil (1926-28), and Capel Als, Llanelli (1928-60). In Llanelli he was active as teacher, adjudicator, conductor and composer. He died December 1965 and was buried at Llanelli.
He was one of the three prominent composers of the period between the two World Wars who gained their apprenticeship through the National Eisteddfod (the other two were W. Bradwen Jones (WILLIAM ARTHUR JONES) and W. Albert Williams, and over a period of about 40 years he won more than 60 prizes in the composition section at the National Eisteddfod. He is regarded as one of the most versatile and prolific of Welsh composers of his day.
He published more than 450 diverse musical works, including operas, operettas, part-songs, cantatas, solos, and pieces for brass bands, piano, strings and orchestra. He was also author of several collections of melodies for the harp, ballads and songs, besides a useful hand-book on penillion singing and a tutor on playing the piano (the only publication of its kind by a Welsh composer at the time) which he published at his own expense in 1924.
Published date: 2001
Article Copyright: http://rightsstatements.org/page/InC/1.0/
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.