Dilys Elwyn-Edwards 1918-2012

Ble bynnag y caiff caneuon Cymraeg eu perfformio, mae’n bur debyg y bydd caneuon Dilys Elwyn-Edwards yn eu plith. Pan fu farw ym mis Ionawr 2012, roedd hi wedi ennill bri fel un o gyfansoddwyr enwocaf ei chyfnod ac uchaf ei pharch ym myd y gân Gymraeg. Treuliodd y rhan fwyaf o’i hoes yng Nghaernarfon, ar lannau’r Fenai, ac yno cynhyrchodd gasgliad bychan o gyfansoddiadau, ond cyfansoddiadau cain serch hynny, a’r cyfan ohonynt bron ym myd y gân, ac mae nifer o’r rheiny bellach wedi dod yn glasuron yn repertoire y gân Gymraeg.

Bu Dilys Elwyn-Edwards yn ddisgybl yn Ysgol Dr Williams i Ferched, Dolgellau cyn mynd ymlaen i ddilyn cwrs gradd mewn cerddoriaeth ym Mhrifysgol De Cymru a Sir Fynwy (Prifysgol Caerdydd yn ddiweddarach). Yno daeth ar draws nifer o’r cyfansoddwyr y byddai eu cynnyrch cerddorol yn dod maes o law yn sail i’w harddull unigolyddol hi: Vaughan Williams, Delius, Warlock, Moeran ac, yn hanfodol felly, Herbert Howells, fu’n ei hyfforddi pan aeth yn fyfyrwraig i’r Coleg Cerdd Brenhinol wedi’r Ail Ryfel Byd. Heblaw am gyfnod byr yn Rhydychen, lle’r oedd ei gŵr, Elwyn Edwards, yn ordinand gyda’r Presbyteriaid yng Ngholeg Mansfield, treuliodd weddill ei hoes yng Nghaernarfon lle bu’n gweithio fel tiwtor piano ym Mhrifysgol Bangor.

Mae cryn dipyn o’i chyfansoddiadau yn dyddio o’r 1950au a’r cyfnod wedi hynny pan ddaeth o hyd i’w llais cynhenid fel miniaturwraig ar lun y gân gelfydd. Tuedda ei chaneuon diweddaraf i ganolbwyntio ar farddoniaeth Gymraeg gan roi bod i rai o glasuron y genre hwnnw mewn caneuon megis Caneuon y Tri Aderyn 1962. Wrth i’r blynyddoedd fynd yn eu blaen, aeth ati hefyd i gyfansoddi gweithiau corawl a gwelwyd ei chaneuon yn cael eu mabwysiadu gan genhedlaeth newydd o gantorion Cymraeg fel Bryn Terfel, Rebecca Evans, Jeremy Huw Williams, Helen Field a Shân Cothi. Daeth ei chreadigrwydd i ddiweddglo naturiol ar farwolaeth ei gŵr yn 2005 ond ymddengys bod y caneuon eu hunain, os rhywbeth, yn cynyddu mewn poblogrwydd ymhlith cantorion o’r naill flwyddyn i’r ll

 

Wherever Welsh song is performed, it is likely that the songs of Dilys Elwyn-Edwards will be amongst them. When she died in January 2012, she had become one of the best-known and most highly regarded of all living Welsh song composers. Much of her life was spent in Caernarfon, overlooking the Menai Straits, where she produced a small yet elegant output almost entirely in the field of song, many of which have become classics of the Welsh song repertoire.

As a girl she studied at Dr Williams’s School for Girls in Dolgellau before taking a music degree at University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire (later Cardiff University). Here she encountered many of the composers whose music would form a bedrock for her own individual style: Vaughan Williams, Delius, Warlock, Moeran and, crucially, Herbert Howells, with whom she went on to study at the Royal College of Music after the Second World War.

Apart from a brief spell in Oxford, where her husband, Elwyn Edwards, was a Presbyterian ordinand at Mansfield College, the rest of her life was spent in Caernarfon where she worked as a piano tutor at Bangor University.

Much of her output dates from the 1950s onwards where she found her natural voice as a miniaturist in the form of the art song. Her later songs tended to concentrate on Welsh poetry, leading to some of the classics of that genre in songs such as the 1962 Caneuon y Tri Aderyn (Songs of Three Birds). In later years she also wrote choral music and found her songs being taken up by a new generation of Welsh singers such as Bryn Terfel, Rebecca Evans, Jeremy Huw Williams, Helen Field and Shân Cothi. The death of her husband in 2005 brought her creativity to a natural close, but the songs themselves, if anything, seem to grow in popularity amongst singers every year.

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Find out more about Dilys Elwyn-Edwards, and view original manuscripts on our Discover Welsh Music site.

Gwelwch mwy amdano Dilys Elwyn-Edwards, yn cynnwys llawysgrifau gwreiddiol ar ein gwefan Darganfod Cerddoriaeth Cymru.

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