Joseph Parry 1841-1903

Ganed Joseph Parry yn Georgetown, Merthyr Tudful, pan oedd y dref honno yn dal yng nghalon y chwyldro diwydiannol. Yn naw oed, aeth i weithio fel colier bach ac wedyn, yn ddeuddeg oed, fel gweithiwr haearn, ond roedd yn byw ynghanol amgylchfyd cerddorol, ac yn aelod o gôr Rosser Beynon. Ymfudodd ei deulu i Dannville, Pensylfania yn 1854 lle bu’n astudio cerddoriaeth gan weithio ar yr un pryd yn y melinau rholio. Arweiniodd ei lwyddiannau yn eisteddfodau, ac ar ôl hynny, gyda darnau wedi ei phostio i’r Eisteddfod Genedlaethol yng Nghymru i gymunedau yng Ngogledd America codi arian i’w alluogi e i astudio yn yr Academi Frenhinol Gerddoriaeth yn Llundain ble enillodd e’r fedal gorau am gyfansoddi. Dychwelodd i Danville lle’r enillodd fri fel athro a chyfansoddwr yn goleg cerddorol ei hunan, cyn cael ei benodi yn Athro Cerdd gyntaf ym Mhrifysgol newydd Aberystwyth ym 1874.

O ganlyniad i’w egni diamheuol aeth ati i sefydlu ysgol gerdd yn Abertawe ym 1881 ac wedyn daeth yn Athro a phennaeth yr adran gerdd newydd ym Mhrifysgol Caerdydd yn 1888, ac arhosodd yno hyd ei farw. Fe’i claddwyd ym mynwent Eglwys Sant Awstin, Penarth, lle bu’n byw yn ystod ei flynyddoedd olaf.

Drwy gydol ei oes bu’n ddilychwin ei gymeriad; meddai ar gyfaredd, carisma, roedd yn athro ysbrydoledig a dawnus ac yn gerddor amryddawn a chyflawn. Heb os, roedd yn ddyn ei gyfnod: yn Gristion didwyll, yn llwyrymwrthodwr cadarn ac yn ddyn teulu, a chanddo duedd, efallai, tuag at fod ychydig yn hunanbwysig. Roedd ei gyfansoddiadau mwy uchelgeisiol e.e. yr opera Gymraeg gyntaf, Blodwen (1878) a’i oratorios, Emmanuel (1880) a Saul (1892) yn gynnyrch eu cyfnod. Fe’i anfarwolwyd serch hynny yn yr emyn-dôn Gymraeg Aberystwyth, ac, o bosib, yn y rhan-gân Gymraeg enwocaf oll, Myfanwy, sy’n dwyn i gof, yn gwbl ddiymdrech, Gymru’r cymoedd glo, y capeli anghydffurfiol a thraddodiad gwych y corau meibion.

Joseph Parry was born in Georgetown, Merthyr Tydfil, when the town was still at the heart of the industrial revolution. At the age of nine he became a pit-boy and at twelve an iron-worker, but he lived at the centre of a musical environment, singing in Rosser Beynon’s choir. His family emigrated to Danville, Pennsylvania, in 1854.  He worked in the rolling mills there and studied music with other Welsh emigrés.  His success as a composer in local eisteddfodau and, later, with pieces he submitted by post to the National Eisteddfod in Wales led the Welsh communities in North America to establish a fund to allow him to spend three years studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he won the top medal for composition.  He returned to Danville to run his own music college but in 1874 accepted an invitation to become the first Professor of Music at the recently opened University College of Wales, Aberystwyth.

Disagreements with the College Council in Aberystwyth led him to resign in 1881 and move to Swansea to take up the post of organist at Ebenezer Chapel and to set up his own music college.  Seven years later he took up the post of Lecturer in Music at what was then the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire but has now become Cardiff University; a post which he continued to hold until his death. He is buried in the churchyard to St Augustine’s in Penarth, where he lived during his final years.

During his lifetime, his reputation was unassailable; he had charm, charisma, was an inspiring and gifted teacher and a complete all-round musician. He was very much a man of his age: a sincere Christian, a staunch teetotaller and a family man given, perhaps, to a certain degree of self-importance. His more ambitious works, such as the first Welsh opera, Blodwen (1878) and his oratorios, Emmanuel (1880) and Saul (1892) were products of their age. His name though is immortalised in the great Welsh hymn-tune Aberystwyth and, perhaps, the greatest of all Welsh part-songs, Myfanwy, which effortlessly evokes the Wales of the mining valleys, the non-conformist chapels and its great male voice tradition.

 
Nefoedd CD.JPG

+44 (0)29 2063 5640 / enquiries@tycerdd.org / © 2018 Tŷ Cerdd

Tŷ Cerdd – Music Centre Wales yn sefydliad corfforedig elusennol, Rhif Cofrestru 1152853.

Tŷ Cerdd – Music Centre Wales is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, Registration Number 1152853