Joseph Parry

Joseph Parry

(Story by Owain T. Edwards) (Funeral H. George)

Can there be any doubt that good fortune comes more readily to some people than others? Or should we say that luck comes to us all but only assists the most able to success? ‘Whichever way we look at it luck alone is not enough, something else has to accompany it, as we realize when we trace the astonishing career of a man who, with a generous share of good luck, a healthy capacity for hard work and exceptional talent, became the leading musician in Wales during the closing years of the nineteenth century.

Joseph Parry

Chapel Row Merthyr

Joseph Parry was born in Merthyr Tydfil on 24 May 1841 in the second of the little houses known as Chapel Row. Merthyr Tydfil was a very large town, in fact at that time it was by far the largest in Wales. It was also the foremost musical centre in the South, and for the people living there music played an important part in their lives. They simply could not get away from it! There was rivalry between people in different parts of the town, and between the chapels. More eisteddfodau were said to be held there than anywhere else in the country and in his Autobiography, written when he could look back on a rich and eventful life, Joseph Parry recalls how he grew up to the sound of singing and the strains of the Cyfarthfa Brass Band.

He was the son of Daniel and Elisabeth Parry, both of whom had been attracted to Merthyr as young people. His father hailed from Pembrokeshire and worked in the foundry: his mother was from Y Graig, Cydweli, and had gone into service with the minister of Bethesda Chapel’s family. Both became members of the chapel and Elisabeth Parry, an accomplished and musically pennillion singer, gifted with a pleasant voice, sometimes led the singing in the chapel services. As was customary then her children were put to sing in the chapel choir, but although Joseph Parry was a useful young alto he did not stand out as being peculiarly gifted, nor did it occur to anyone that he might go in for music. So, at the age of nine, he started work at the coal-pit earning half-a-crown a week as other boys did in Merthyr at the time. Three years later he moved over to work at the enormous Cyfarthfa Foundry, where he stayed until the family emigrated to North America.

During the nineteenth century the exciting challenge of a new life, and the prospect of being able to earn good money for honest labour enticed people from all over Europe, and among them thousands of Welshmen, to try their luck on the other side of the Atlantic. Daniel Parry set out in 1853, and having settled in the Welsh industrial community at Danville in the beautiful rolling hills of Pennsylvania, he sent for his family. It was thus that the following year saw Mrs. Parry and her four children embark on the sailing vessel ’Jane Anderson’ bound for America, on a voyage which lasted six weeks and two days.

Having arrived at Danville Joseph Parry worked as before in an iron foundry, and was for eleven years at the rolling-mills. Following a dangerous vocation, he twice narrowly missed losing his life, once, when the man working right beside him was killed in a furnace explosion. Yet, despite the hazards, he seems to have been contented with his lot, using his leisure time for training in singing and in cultivating an agreeable baritone voice which he was afterwards able to turn to practical advantage in many ways.

Curious to learn more about the theoretical side of music he joined a class formed for the young men of the mills by another Merthyr-born Welshman, John Abel Jones. It was a fortunate start, and he progressed so well that soon he was handed over to John M. Price, another Welshman originally from Rhymney, who was better able to give him lessons in harmony and composition. He studied hard in his spare time for three years and then submitted a composition, a temperance song, for the competition in the r86o Christmas eisteddfod at Danville.

He won, and his adjudicator was criticized for awarding the prize to such a young and unknown competitor. But the following year he went on to win first prize again at the eisteddfod at Utica, this time beating even the man who had been his adjudicator at Danville. This created quite a stir and led to a newspaper correspondence about the competition which, far from harming Joseph Parry, attracted his fellow-countrymen’s attention to his ability. The result was that they collected a sum of money and made it possible for him to enrol that very summer on a short music course at a New York college.

But they were troubled times, and New York was in a grievous state. The Civil War had only just started, and twice Joseph Parry was picked up by press gangs enlisting soldiers for the Yankee side. It cost him £200 to buy himself out of the army. He returned to Danville; it was safer at the rolling-mills.

The next three years brought him continued success at many an American eisteddfod, and he was advised to send compositions in for the National Eisteddfod of Wales to see how he would measure up against seasoned competitors. He emerged very favourably, and it was all added encouragement for the young iron-worker to receive prizes for his compositions at the Swansea Eisteddfod of 1863, and to have the pleasure of winning first prize in a number of competitions at the National Eisteddfod at Llandudno the following year. He even took a double there by winning both the first and the second prizes in the competition for an Anthem. By now Joseph Parry was in his twenty-third year, was married, and held a position of responsibility at the rolling-mills.

His career at this point made a decisive change of direction, with good fortune seeming to take a firm hand on the course of events.

He decided that he would again prepare and submit entries for competition at the National Eisteddfod to be held in Aberystwyth in i86. This time, too, he would attend the Eisteddfod and receive the prizes in person. He would be able to meet the country’s foremost musicians including those who had adjudicated his compositions at the National Eisteddfod the previous two years.

Before setting out on his long journey to Wales he made the acquaintance in New York of the man who was to become his greatest benefactor. Under the pseudonym ‘Gohebydd’, this person, John Griffiths, had been writing for national newspapers in Wales articles which had gained him considerable respect and influence. While he was in America he sent back dispatches in which he described, amongst other things, how Joseph Parry earned his living in an iron foundry in Danville. He drew attention to the fact that his work left him far too little time for his musical talents to be suitably developed. After this fortunate meeting, Joseph Parry and the Danville party continued their journey to Wales. They went by steamboat, crossing this time in only twelve days, but on arrival at Aberystwyth, it was discovered that all of Joseph Parry’s entries had gone astray. Not a single one had been received by the adjudicators, nor did any of them come to light afterwards. From this standpoint, therefore, the Aberystwyth Eisteddfod was a source of bitter disappointment to Joseph Parry. In other respects, however, it was the turning point of his life.

It gave him his first opportunity of meeting the men who counted most in Welsh music at the time: Ieuan Gwyllt, Ambrose Lloyd, Gwilym Gwent, John Thomas (Blaenannerch) and John Thomas (Pencerdd Gwalia), Alaw Ddu, Emlyn Evans and Tanymarian—all accomplished musicians, men of standing and influence. A winning entry of his from a previous National Eisteddfod was the test piece for the chief choral competition and, as Joseph Parry was himself present at the Eisteddfod, the adjudicators paid him the compliment of inviting him to sit with them at the adjudicators’ table. It was from this vantage point that he was able to listen for the first time to performances of the Motet which had gained him the prize for choral composition at the National Eisteddfod the year before at Swansea. It was an honour which gave encouragement as well as satisfaction to the young composer, as also was his admission to membership of the Gorsedd at Aberystwyth with the status-pseudonym of Pencerdd America. The most important outcome of his visit to Aberystwyth was that Welsh musicians had had a chance of meeting him. They had talked with the zestful and charming young iron-worker about whom ‘Gohebydd’ had written from America, and having been given the right kind of encouragement, they wanted to help him.

We tend to forget these days, when we can get free schooling and financial Support for further education, that this has not always been the case. In Joseph Parry’s time one had to pay for the classes one went to, and when the money ran out the classes ceased. It was a straight-forward equation. One worked to get money to study, unless one had been born wealthy, and Joseph Parry had not. There was no question of his giving up at the rolling-mills, much as he might have desired to after his initial successes in the National Eisteddfod. He simply could not afford to devote his time wholly to music. It is all the more to his credit, and to that of many others like him, that he succeeded in making a worthwhile contribution to Welsh music despite the circumstances in which he was living and not because of them. And the great value of the competitive eisteddfod as the initial stimulus for study cannot be emphasized too much in this context, for it encouraged the amateur to aim at higher standards in whatever he was doing. It offered him the opportunity of winning honour on a platform which everyone respected, it gave him an expert’s appraisal in the adjudication and also, a lure that should not be underestimated, provided an inducement in the form of prize money.

Joseph Parry’s talent had attracted attention amongst those who knew him in America. It had also gained the approval of Welsh musicians who knew nothing about him at all. Brinley Richards and the other adjudicators at Swansea in 1863 had no idea as to the identity of the competitor whose work had so impressed them. And now, just as the publicity resulting from the controversy at Utica had spurred the Welsh community in that region to collect money to enable Joseph Parry to attend a summer course in New York, influential people at the National Eisteddfod in Aberystwyth began to think along similar lines.

‘Gohebydd’ had suggested in one of his articles in ‘Y Faner’ that only with proper training could the promising young man’s talent be developed, and that Wales, through the National Eisteddfod, ought to make it possible for him to receive that training at the Royal Academy of Music in London. The idea was taken up, and the Eisteddfod Council offered to meet the expense of Joseph Parry’s musical education. He was to go to the Royal Academy as suggested but should first undergo a preparatory course of study at Swansea Normal College. His good fortune did not stop there, however, nor did the generosity of his fellow-countrymen. On his return to America new developments which would lead to a change of plan were shortly to take place.

Joseph Parry

A number of prominent American-Welshmen meeting to make arrangements for the Christmas eisteddfod at Youngstown took up the matter of the sponsorship of Joseph Parry’s education by the National Eisteddfod of Wales. ‘Gohebydd’ also happened to be there. Still in America after originally going out to represent the Congregational Church of Wales at an important conference in Boston in 1865 he stayed on for two years. He was able to discuss the question of sponsorship of Joseph Parry’s education with the Youngstown group of well-wishers. Members of this group were embarrassed by the fact that they in America had not volunteered to provide financial support in any way comparable to that about to be given from funds of the National Eisteddfod at Aberystwyth. Their most promising musician was about to leave them but they had done relatively nothing to help him express his potential.

They resolved to launch a public appeal in all the Welsh communities in North America, aiming at a target of three thousand dollars which, with the money allocated by the National Eisteddfod, would enable Joseph Parry to prolong his studies in Britain. Then, as if asserting their American independence, the appeal committee pronounced that there would be no need for him to undergo the course of preliminary musical training at Swansea Normal College, which had been prescribed by the Eisteddfod Council, as he was already receiving at Danville suitable preparation. The committee launched the Parry Fund with a donation of fifty dollars at the Christmas eisteddfod, and Joseph Parry responded to this show of good will by embarking on a strenuous fund-raising recital tour in which he sang many of his own compositions. It was, nevertheless, two years before he felt ready to face the challenge presented by the prospect of study at the Royal Academy of Music in London. In the meantime he devoted himself to his own musical improvement which also involved gaining experience as a concert singer.

In August 1868, leaving his family at home, Joseph Parry once more crossed the Atlantic, and after calling on friends in Wales, who held a special concert and gave him the proceeds, he went up to London and enrolled at the Royal Academy of Music. His reputation had gone before him and thus he was privileged from the beginning to study composition under the Principal of the Academy, Sir William Sterndale Bennett. He also studied the organ, and had singing lessons from Manuel Garcia, a teacher of the highest professional standing.

Starting at the age of twenty-seven, Joseph Parry was a good deal older than his fellow students at the Academy. This, however, proved to his advantage on account of his relative maturity of outlook and experience as a musician. He worked hard, quickly winning the approval of his teachers and in a progress report to one of the trustees of the Parry Fund, sent by the Principal of the Academy, was described as ‘a gifted and promising student’. In addition, too, to the obvious competence of his work as a composer, he was able to take a prominent part in concerts at the Academy for which he was chosen to sing important solo parts. He took the Bronze and Silver Medal awards in his stride at the end of the first and second years of study and, in the following year, successfully sat for the Cambridge degree of Bachelor of Music, marking thus with distinction the end of the student days for which he had had to wait so long.

Back at home Pencerdd America immediately set out on a ‘good will tour’ lasting three months, visiting all the Welsh communities that had contributed to the Parry Fund and giving, altogether, over a hundred concerts. He was proud of his achievements and confident of his abilities, and this prompted him to seek further financial assistance for the purpose of establishing a Welsh Academy of Music in America with himself at its head. It was calculated that there were 384 Welsh churches in America and that an annual contribution of twenty dollars from each would pay for the maintenance of the Academy. Whether the churches all contributed as had been suggested is unknown but by 1873 the Danville Musical Institute had forty-two students, and it seemed likely that Joseph Parry would need an assistant to cope with the teaching and other duties involved.

It was shortly rumoured, moreover, that the Danville Musical Institute was in fact looking for a new Principal as well. Joseph Parry had been offered another appointment and would be leaving as soon as a suitable successor had been found.

He had not been running the Musical Institute fully two years before he left to take up his duties as the first Professor of Music at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth. The College had been open just two years and was still a very small institution. It conducted its affairs, nevertheless, with fitting dignity coupled with the patriotic fervour which had only so recently brought this first Welsh University College into existence. The circumstances leading to Joseph Parry’s appointment may be gathered from the following, which is taken from the College’s first published Report:

Musical Professorship

At the Committee Meeting held on the 20th June last (1873), the desirability of attaching to the College a Professor of Music was introduced by Gohebydd, with a special reference to Mr. Joseph Parry, Mus. Bacc., of Cambridge, now residing in America. After some discussion, it was resolved as follows:

‘That having regard to the taste for music existing to so large an extent in Wales, and to the advantages that might result from placing the means of obtaining the requisite culture within
the reach of young men possessed of talent for music; and having regard also to the probable tendency of the proposed appointment to elevate and purify the musical taste of the people, Gohebydd be requested to offer the appointment of Professor of Music at the College to Mr. Joseph Parry, the terms to be agreed upon hereafter.’

Gohebydd having communicated with Mr. Parry, the Committee agreed upon terms which they believe he will be prepared to accept, and he may, therefore, be expected to enter upon his duties before the close of the session.

Thus it fell to ‘Gohebydd’ to become, once again, the instrument of good fortune on Joseph Parry’s behalf. The latter realized full well how deeply indebted he was to ‘Gohebydd’ and in his Autobiography referred to him as the king of his ‘innumerable, invaluable friends’. He certainly was.

The College Council at Aberystwyth was informed that Joseph Parry was doing good work in America, and that he was being well rewarded for his efforts. When he accepted the Chair of Music at the salary of £250 a year it was given to understand that he was doing so out of a sense of duty to the Welsh nation rather than for financial gain. He had supplemented his salary at the Danville Musical Institute by being organist at a leading church, and he was said to be making a sacrifice financially by coming to Aberystwyth. But, and this the College Council was not given to understand when it appointed him, he intended to remedy this by holding concerts for his own benefit in and around Aberystwyth, and accordingly he set about doing so with his own music students as performers.

This, however, put his colleagues in a commotion and they followed the activities of the Music Department with mounting trepidation. Joseph Parry’s determined and energetic way of doing things alarmed them and, perhaps, made them a little envious that he alone could attract a quarter of the total number of students at the College, from all Darts of Wales and even from America. Or was it that they considered unethical his confident manner of taking talent in hand as when, for example, he was adjudicating at the Baptist eisteddfod in Rhosllannerchrugog? He heard a young coal miner, William Davies, sing an aria from Handel’s Samson and became so enthusiastic about it that, in the course of his adjudication, Joseph Parry told the audience that the young miner had great potential and deserved to be given the right training. A collection was taken there and then and was the start of a fund which enabled him to study under Joseph Parry at Aberystwyth for two years. Unethical or not, it confirmed the Professor’s unerring perception of musical ability: William Davies later distinguished himself as a tenor and as a songwriter.

Having only men students in his classes at the University College, and needing female voices to complete his College choir, Joseph Parry obtained permission to register women students as well. This enabled him to try out with his choir of student’s new choral works of his own, much to their enjoyment and his own satisfaction. He composed prolifically and, in 1878, completed his opera ‘Blodwen’ which was destined to become a firm favourite throughout Wales and ‘Welsh’ America.
Music students at Aberystwyth were an unruly crowd and, as Joseph Parry was the only teacher in the department, the responsibility for their conduct fell on him. But he was a poor disciplinarian and never had much success keeping them in order. After four years the College Council had had enough and passed resolutions to curtail the Music Department’s activities: first by withholding permission for the Professor to take women students, thus effectively putting an end to his choir, and secondly by requiring him not to give or even go to any more concerts in and around Aberystwyth.

This was a hard blow not only to his pride but to his finances as well, and it came at a bad time. He had just taken the degree of Doctor of Music at the University of Cambridge, and it cost him £300 to take a choir from Aberdare up to perform his degree composition at Cambridge. He had also paid another £400 to have his opera ‘Blodwen’ published, and therefore could hardly have greeted the College Council’s decision with enthusiasm. The College itself, however, was going through financial difficulties of such severity that four professors, including Dr. Parry, were shortly afterwards advised that their services might not be required much longer.

Already a popular conductor at cymanfaoedd canu Joseph Parry saw this as a means of adding to his income, and he frequently left his students to their own devices while he went to fulfil conducting engagements in distant parts—thus not violating the College Council’s injunction about conducting in or around Aberystwyth. At the end of the session the Council, showing its respect for his professional abilities while indicating its disapproval of the manner in which he undertook his duties, resolved to retain him as Professor of Music, but stipulated new conditions of service and reduced his salary. He would be required to give at least fifty lessons a session in each subject, evenly distributed so that not more than two would be given in any one week. In addition, those studying Music, being subject to the same rules of discipline as other students, were to be compelled to attend their classes.

Thus, notwithstanding his initial appointment to the Chair of Music as one of the most highly paid professors at the University College, Joseph Parry had imprudently placed himself in a position which he deemed to be unacceptable. The honour of being the only University Professor of Music in Wales did not at that time compensate him for the financial sacrifices he considered he was making, and at the end of his sixth session, in i88o, he tended his resignation. This was accepted by the College Council with an expression of regret for the circumstances which had led to the severance of his connection with the College. At the same meeting of the Council a number of student prizes and scholarships were allocated, it was resolved to appoint a Lecturer in Biology, and the establishment of a special Oriental Department at the College was considered. This would certainly appear to contradict the explanation given afterwards by Joseph Parry and his admirers, that he had left Aberystwyth because the College could not afford to retain his services.

Joseph Parry was now, at the age of thirty-nine, a national figure as a composer and extremely popular as a conductor and eisteddfod adjudicator. It was unthinkable, therefore, to the general public that the College Council’s discreet silence was motivated by respect for the musician’s reputation rather than by its own embarrassment at the management of its finances. The popular explanation of Joseph Parry’s departure from Aberystwyth was strengthened by the College Council’s decision not to appoint an immediate successor to the Chair of Music. It would have been almost impossible to appoint one anyway without loss of prestige and without public affront to Joseph Parry himself, for there was no other Welshman at the time who had anything like his reputation.

The circumstances leading to his resignation went against Joseph Parry’s proud nature. He felt the injured party and resented the College Council’s unwillingness to accept his interpretation of the terms of contract. At the end of the session he took his wife and children and, rather obviously shaking the dust of Aberystwyth off his feet, crossed to America for a long holiday. On his return he was warmly welcomed back by his friends and, in the following Spring, when the time had come for his final departure from the town, they crowded in their hundreds to wish him well at a special performance of ‘Blodwen’ in the Temperance Hall. So many were turned away that a repeat performance had to be given.

Before he left Aberystwyth Joseph Parry had attempted to establish a private music school in the town, but this project met with less success than had been anticipated. It was, therefore, with fresh hopes that in 1881 he accepted a friend’s invitation to go to Swansea to try again. This friend, the Reverend Thomas Rees, appointed him organist at his own chapel, ‘Ebeneser’, Swansea, and was clearly very proud to have so distinguished a musician to fill that post.

Moving to Swansea just before his fortieth birthday, Joseph Parry entered upon a less hectic phase in his career. The unfortunate break with the University College of Wales had told on his health, and the loss of prestige had had a sobering effect on his ebullient character. He was no longer the boyish dynamo but, as in the earlier stages of his musical career, he received much kindness and support from his friends. The year after he had settled at Swansea he was honoured by the National Eisteddfod of Wales at Liverpool with a commission for a cantata. His main mission at this time, however, was The Musical College of Wales which, established in Swansea in April 1881, was the means by which his influence on the music of the country was still further to be extended. He understood full well that future developments depended largely on the possibility of raising the general level of competence and professional standard of the country’s musical leaders. This he made clear in his address at the opening of the Musical College. A special feature of the College’s activities would, therefore, be the provision made for working people wishing to study music, through evening classes and postal tuition.

The slow start made by The Musical College of Wales was due largely to the lack of publicity and effective advertisement at the time. This was remedied rather later when, realizing that his aims were not being achieved, Joseph Parry invited a number of influential people, musicians, ministers of religion and others, to become members of the College Council and to participate actively in its running. Generous gifts were made to the College and scholarships endowed; and as a result of improved publicity student numbers rose to over a hundred. Joseph Parry continued as Head of The Musical College of Wales at Swansea for seven years. In addition to the work of teaching, the College provided him with opportunities for expressing his views on matters affecting music in Wales, sometimes by way of commentary at student concerts, and also in articles in musical and other periodicals circulating in Wales. He became increasingly active, too, as a choral conductor during this period. In October 1881, when the Prince and Princess of Wales visited Swansea for the opening of the new Dock, he conducted one of the massed choirs and wrote a ceremonial march for the occasion. Members of the choir formed for the royal visit were induced the following year to join the Swansea Musical Festival Society which, with Joseph Parry as its conductor, performed the standard repertory of oratorios as well as its conductor’s own compositions.

Whilst continuing as before to travel the country, adjudicating at eisteddfodau and conducting cymanfaoedd canu, Joseph Parry undertook his duties as chapel organist at ‘Ebeneser’ very seriously. Indeed, his concern about it, and his ability to provide the most suitable music for worship on all occasions was noticed with admiration by members of his choir and of the congregation. The care he took over the chapel’s music was emulated by Mrs. A. M. James (Megan Glantawe), the gifted and musical girl who succeeded him at ‘Ebeneser’ and who contributed generously to the musical life of Swansea, running an amateur orchestra at home and serving her chapel as organist for nearly sixty years. In addition to his duties at the organ, Joseph Parry took pleasure in regular attendance at Sunday School and in theological discussion with other members of his Sunday School class. He clearly considered the Sunday School to be of great value and he devoted considerable time to the preparation of programmes of hymns intended specially for the Sunday School children. Tireless in his activities, and with his streams of compositions continuing unabated, he finally responded to the persistent requests of his minister at ‘Ebeneser’ and began to compile his own book of hymn-tunes. But, restless as ever, though facilities were better at Swansea than he had ever had before, his ambition remained unfulfilled and stimulated him to enter upon a new stage in his career. In 1888 he left to become Lecturer and Head of the Music Department at the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire, Cardiff.

The University College, Cardiff, entrusted the teaching of music to the care of a Lecturer in Music, not a Professor, although the duties involved were very similar to those Joseph Parry had performed as the Music Professor at Aberystwyth. When he succeeded to the Cardiff post it seems that he had entertained the hope of being promoted later to his former Professorial status and salary. This was not to be, however, although he held the post for the remaining fifteen years of his life, and despite the fact that his conduct was far more acceptable to his colleagues as an older man than it had been when he was the headstrong young Professor at Aberystwyth. Indeed, he had mellowed, and in his later years became regarded more and more as the indisputable Grand Old Man of the nation’s music, affectionately referred to as ‘the great Doctor’. But he was not an old man, although this is certainly the impression given by photographs taken of him about that time, with the heavy walrus moustache and the soft eyes behind tiny, circular lenses. After all, he was only in his fifties and his capacity for hard work but little diminished. He did, it is true, give up his post as organist at Ebenezer Chapel, Cardiff, within a year after settling there, intimating in his letter of resignation that age was beginning to tell upon him. But, if thus he spared himself the inconvenience of having to take the train from his home in Penarth to play for the chapel services in town, it was only that he might use his time differently. He had seriously taken up the idea of compiling a hymnal comprised entirely of his own hymn-tunes. His Sunday afternoons were consequently devoted to composing new hymn-tunes, many of them to verses expressly written by his literary acquaintances.

With commendable perseverance he set up yet another School of Music after moving to Cardiff; this was his fourth in fifteen years. It was publicised as The South Wales School of Music (address: ‘Beethoven Chambers’, Cardiff) and in the teaching and other work of the school he was assisted by his son Mendelssohn. In addition, therefore, to his duties as Lecturer and Head of the Department of Music at the University College, he was taking on a considerable amount of other work involving private teaching, public engagements which he was frequently called upon to undertake in various parts of the country, and a strenuous programme of evening classes under the auspices of the Cardiff Technical Instruction Committee. He continued to compose prolifically, indeed, it had always been a weakness with him that as he was able to write so quickly he exercised far too little self-criticism, with the result that his music was generally of unequal quality. His technical assurance may be seen, however, in the arrangements he made, for voice with piano accompaniment, of Welsh national songs. The Cambrian Minstrelsie, edited by Joseph Parry and David Rowlands, was published in six volumes at Edinburgh in 1893.

Life was much as before at Cardiff, but more than in any other stage of his career this last one was marked by sorrow. The loss of his youngest son, William Sterndale, at the age of twenty, was a severe blow in the Spring of 1892 and the death of Joseph Haydn Parry, the eldest son, two years later not only made his sorrow deeper but deprived him of practical help as well, for he used to receive the assistance and professional expertise of both Mendelssohn and Haydn. Only the year before he died Haydn, who had been on the staff of the Guildhall School of Music, London, since 1890, had assisted his father in a choral and orchestral concert of Joseph Parry’s music at the St. James’s Hall, London. It was, perhaps, the memory of his son’s connection with the Guildhall School of Music that prompted him to apply for the post of Principal of the College when it fell vacant in 1896. His age, qualifications and experience; along with a comprehensive list of compositions and the record of successful performances and prizes gained, made him a strong contender for the post. But to his disappointment and, probably, annoyance, the post went to someone else, notwithstanding his having marshalled the support of the Principal of the University College, Cardiff, his colleagues on the staff, his students, and that of a number of distinguished musicians, and of the Mayor, Aldermen and Councillors of the County Borough of Cardiff, all of whom had written testimonials for him.

Joseph Parry

If, however, his later years brought sadness and disappointment, they were also marked by happier, more agreeable events. Joseph Parry had lived to see his operas ‘Blodwen’ and ‘Arianwen’ become immensely popular. His hymn-tunes and part-songs were being sung with enthusiasm throughout the country, and it was gratifying for him to have his large-scale compositions performed not infrequently by choral societies in England and the United States as well as in Wales. He was invariably accorded the privilege of being chief adjudicator when he attended a major eisteddfod, and in all he received four commissions for cantatas to be performed at the National Eisteddfod of Wales. He was, in short, very well-known and respected. His friends wished to give him tangible evidence of their high regard and accordingly organized benefit concerts, and collected donations throughout Wales and ‘Welsh’ America. The presentation was made in 1896 at the National Eisteddfod in Llandudno, during the concert in which his commissioned cantata ‘Cambria’ was performed. The indefatigable treasurer of this Parry Testimonial Fund, Anthony Howells, was the man who had been treasurer of the American Parry Fund started at Youngstown, Ohio, thirty years earlier. Due largely to his efforts the sum presented finally amounted to £630. It was a generous donation which enabled the Fund committee to buy for Joseph Parry the house in which he had been living since he settled in Penarth. More than that, it was a convincing vote of confidence in ‘the great Doctor’, whose personal ambition might be unfulfilled but whose place in the nation’s affection was secure.

For seven years after this he continued to work as actively as ever, teaching, composing and adjudicating. He made yet another marathon journey to visit the Welsh communities in the United States. It took him as far as Salt Lake City where he was overwhelmed by the generous hospitality of the Mormons, and by the excellent performance of one of his operas in the city’s new theatre. Indeed, so eventful had his life become that now, at the age of sixty, he set about recording what he could remember about his colourful and romantic career. Judging by the opening lines it would appear to have been a new year’s resolution to do so:

My Autobiography
New Year’s Day 1902

‘0 thou; unseen and ever moving Times!’

Thus he began, and, obviously writing at great haste, he covered page after page with his large, rambling hand-writing. With a refreshing lack of concern for Posterity he detailed the main events of his astonishing rise to eminence from his humble beginnings at Merthyr Tydfil. He ended with a catalogue of the operas he had seen, and another of the ‘People whom I have seen, heard, and met’. Named in this two-page list are Dvorak, Grieg, Faure, Liszt, Wagner (whom he called, ‘The great art reformer’) and Verdi. But, unfortunately, he did not distinguish between those musicians known to him only through their compositions and those whom he had actually seen or met in person, consequently almost everybody of importance on the musical scene at that time was included. Though he spent time in the weeks that followed on his Autobiography, he was also turning over in his mind the problems of his latest work, an extended choral piece. He intended it to be his greatest composition, appropriate to the subject matter chosen, that of the life of Jesus. But the work had to be left unfinished. In the beginning of 1903 Joseph Parry’s health broke down and shortly afterwards, on 17 February, he died.

It was a loss that was little expected and the news spread quickly. Musicians came from all over Wales to pay their last respects, and the funeral at Penarth that wintry Saturday was described in the obituary notices as a very respectable one. Far too ‘respectable’ for one writer who, regretting the fact that the service was conducted almost entirely in English without a single Welsh hymn being sung, says that only outside on the road to the cemetery could the large congregation satisfy its longing to sing

Beth sydd imi yn y byd
Ond gorthrymder mawr o hyd,

to the departed composer’s immortal hymn-tune Aberystwyth. It is probable that remembrance services were held in every Welsh chapel in the world the following Sunday or shortly afterwards, when tributes were paid to his contribution to Welsh music and particularly to his work in the field of religious music and of congregational singing. Services of praise were devoted to his hymns, and verses were published to his memory. His passing was no small event; it concerned the nation as a whole.

And now, almost a century since much of his music was written, the bulk of his large output is unfamiliar. One has usually heard about a small number of items but actually listened to very few. The hymn-tunes, the comparatively small number; of which are printed in our denominational hymn books, always sing well. But it may be asked when it was that the opera ‘Blodwen’ was last presented on stage in recent years? Throughout Wales audiences used to pack into makeshift theatres to enjoy the excitement of Joseph Parry’s operas, and continued doing so right up to the Second World War. These productions were seldom without their humorous incidents, and were often unintentionally hilarious. The tunefulness and colourful fourteenth-century Welsh setting of ‘Blodwen’ made it a firm favourite, so that by the time the third generation of singers were filling the main roles in the 1930’S new soloists made their debuts with understandable nervousness, well aware that in the audience were many who knew their parts from their own experience. The soloists therefore were customarily good.

The same could not unfortunately be said for the orchestral playing. Separate parts were available on hire for all instruments, but as it was simpler to do so and less costly many performances relied on the instrumentalists’ ability to play what they could from the printed vocal score. The outcome was that they usually played either the tune or the bass line and left the inner parts to the piano, and many a good solo was ruined by too many wind players helping the singer out on the melody (unless, of course, the flautist remembered to call out ‘Leave it to me!’ at the beginning of the number). Though they had the best of intentions, and thoroughly enjoyed it all, the noise which some players made was terrible. It was enough to make singers plead for an accompaniment of piano only, and for one distracted conductor, Gordon Price, a Bala school teacher, to shout loudly at the orchestra in a performance at Llanrwst, ‘If you can’t do better than that I’ll stop you!’

For some sixty years ‘Blodwen’ was an indispensable part of the Welsh musical scene, and during that time few would have doubted that it ever would cease to be. But it did, and there were a number of factors which contributed to its decline in popularity.

Joseph Parry claimed in the Preface to the printed vocal score, that Blodwen was the first Welsh opera. He said:

“The Composer has, in the present instance, entered on a department of the art which has hitherto been entirely neglected by Welsh composers. He has for some time felt the want of a
composition like this, in the music of Wales, which is so rich in other respects. This class of music has been developed to such an extent by other nations, that he thought the Welsh, who are pre-eminently a musical people, and have a strong predilection for dramatic representations, ought certainly to be stimulated to cultivate it.”

Such are the Composer’s reasons for placing this Opera before his countrymen.

There was no operatic tradition in Wales prior to this. Joseph Parry’s own experience of the form was gained while he was living in London as a student at the Royal Academy of Music, and also before that in America, the first opera he ever saw being Beethoven’s Fidelio when it was presented at Philadelphia in 1863. The style which had obviously made the strongest impression on him was that of the Italians, particularly Verdi’s, and on that he closely modelled his own. It is questionable whether the poet Mynyddog (Richard Davies) had ever seen an opera before he wrote the libretto of Blodwen, but in accordance with the Italian convention the action is carried forward in a series of solos and ensembles allocated to the leading characters in turn. It was not its attractive melodies, compelling rhythms and rich harmony that endeared Blodwen to the nation— these ingredients may be found in the composer’s unsuccessful operas as well—but the happy choice of subject matter, presented in the Welsh language, appealing directly to the people’s patriotic sentiments.

The same kind of plot, turning on romance and military heroism was also used in his opera Virginia. But this time it was in the topical setting of the American Civil War, and it received only a qualified success. The Welsh audiences liked, and seemed to expect to get that touch of Welsh authenticity and local colour which had captured their imagination in Joseph Parry’s first opera. This was given in the setting of eighteenth-century Welsh village life displayed in ‘Arianwen.’ A light-hearted treatment of the complications of rural courtship, this opera obviously struck the required note and within ten years of its being introduced it had received a hundred performances.

But Joseph Parry’s operas, and particularly the most successful ‘Welsh’ ones, ‘Blodwen’ and ‘Arianwen,’ were not for export. Other audiences, lacking perhaps the essential sympathy, would find them sentimental and unsophisticated. Nineteenth-century Wales was one of the few European countries not to have its own operatic tradition, and the earliest operas to be introduced, therefore, stood a better chance of survival if they were direct and uncomplicated. The situation changed; a tradition was established, and amateur companies formed to put on Joseph Parry’s operas stayed together to perform other suitable works, notably those of Gilbert and Sullivan. More recently the benefit of increased broadcasting of operas on radio and television, and of being able to see live performances by the Welsh National Opera and touring companies has been felt. Taste has changed, largely in consequence of the tendency of younger people today to reject much of the music which their parents enjoyed. That Joseph Parry’s opera Blodwen should no longer be acceptable, even if it is only partly for this reason, is to be regretted for it is a period piece and an important landmark in the history of Welsh music.

Had Joseph Parry had another libretto the success and lasting value of Blodwen might well have been different. An opera is not merely a tale set to music; whilst musical unity is, of course, necessary it must also be convincing dramatically. The greatest English parochial version, ‘Lloyd George knew my father’. As song writers both provided untold hours of enjoyment in Victorian Musical Evenings and celebrity concerts. Their music was effective in performance without being too difficult to learn; consequently many of their songs became popular favourites. And even if they are banal, the most renowned of their songs, Sullivan’s ‘The Lost Chord’ and Joseph Parry’s ‘Myfanwy,’ continue to be affectionately regarded.

Fashions in music in the early nineteenth century were dominated by what went on in Germany. A period of study in that country was therefore generally considered to be an essential part of a young composer’s training. The city to which most of them went was Leipzig where, if they were very fortunate, they might study under the leader of fashion himself, Felix Mendelssohn. At Leipzig they could see Mendelssohn conduct the newest works of the modern German school. There they were at the centre of things. For those who did not have the opportunity of going to Germany the next best thing was to study with someone who had received union the advantages of a continental training. This is precisely what Joseph Parry did at the Royal Academy of Music, whose Principal, Sir William Joseph Sterndale Bennett (Joseph Parry’s teacher in Composition), had been a friend of both Mendelssohn and Schumann. To each of these Bennett had dedicated one of his own piano works, and Schumann, for his part, had complimented Bennett by dedicating to him one of his finest compositions. It may be taken for granted that Joseph Parry was taught the authentic German style. He did not need much convincing, it was a style he liked and the composers were men he admired. His second son, ‘Mendy’, had been named after Mendelssohn and his youngest after Bennett.

But there were some non-German musicians from the middle of the century onwards who objected to the domination of the German style, and began to write music that came more easily to them. They believed their own musical background to be comparable, if not superior, to that associated with the German tradition, and they tried to show that theirs was equally valid by giving their music a homely flavour which made it more acceptable to their own countrymen. Familiar folk-tunes or the characteristic rhythms of their national dances were dressed up in instrumental colours. Fired by the same patriotic sentiments composers from every part of Europe gradually rejected the German style and began writing in what they considered to be appropriate national styles. Not all used folk idioms to give their music its particular flavour, some relied more on literary associations—by giving an evocative title, or setting an unmistakably nationalistic text; but common to all was the underlying compulsion of each to proclaim his own nationality.

The outcome in Wales of this movement, started by Glinka in Russia, was that through his music and his personality Joseph Parry did much to foster a sense of national identity.

He was from the time he became Professor of Music at the University College of Wales a national figure. His manner left no doubt in the minds of those who met him that he was an exceptional man, a man more than worthy of the highest musical posts in the country. Those who sang under his baton in a Cymanfa Ganu felt compelled to do their best because the pace and accentuation, the dynamic level and the mood of the hymns were always right with him, and they wanted their singing to be right for him as well. He could convey his meaning like a good actor and, possessing instinctively a perfect sense of timing and tremendous self-confidence, generally made people feel it a privilege to do anything for him. He was a natural showman: as a young man he had never been a great singer, but according to his singing teacher’s testimonial and contemporary reports he certainly knew how to ‘present’ a song. It was the same when he played the organ, he did so with such conviction, or when he delivered an adjudication in an eisteddfod. He would speak with the dignified authority of a Patriarch addressing his flock. Though his judgements might be hard on some competitors he was always constructive, and the competitors would value and consider seriously the Doctor’s remarks about their efforts. He had the ability to project a favourable public image; he created for himself a position never attained before or since in Welsh music.

Joseph Parry

Even his weaknesses contributed affirmatively to the image he projected: he was seen to have the same failings as other people, and though he had extraordinary ability it was easy for his admirers to identify themselves with him because they recognized in him many of their own characteristics. He was conceited. He considered himself far more gifted a musician than anyone else in Wales and expected to be accorded the respect due, in his opinion, to a Doctor of Music. He was self-centred and demanded without question people’s allegiance and support; and, being confident that he was good charged highly for his services. But he was very hard working, and the fascinating story of his rise to fame from being a pit boy at the age of nine won the sympathy of a nation which was full of aspiring musicians still waiting to gain their freedom from the colliery or the village shop. He had been born poor, and although he played the English gentleman and habitually spoke English in Welsh company, because it was considered rather grand to do so, he never really succeeded in disguising his roots.

He was at heart, and frequently said so, ‘a youngster from Merthyr, and always would be’, and because he did the things which other Welshmen were interested in was all the more acceptable to them. He attended chapel regularly all his life, and gave considerable support to the Sunday School by his own attendance and by composing specially rhythmic, easy little hymn-tunes for the children. He was an unforgettable Cymanfa Ganu conductor and his interest in congregational singing is shown by the number of hymn-tunes he wrote—and in later years by his trying to compose a new one every Sunday. To say that he was usually the chief adjudicator at the larger eisteddfodau would be an understatement; he was the eisteddfod for the competing musicians, an indispensable figure on the platform whose artistic integrity, though occasionally assailed; remained unshaken.

The musical figurehead whom others could seek to emulate, he was a lively influence on Welsh music in that he encouraged participation. This he did through his own enthusiastic example as a player and singer, by training pupils for concerts or eisteddfodau, and by providing music on Welsh texts for people to perform. One has only to consider how many people must have sung his compositions, as test pieces in eisteddfodau, concert items, or indeed whole-evening entertainments, to realize that he contributed generously the means by which his countrymen might enjoy the pleasure of music and become more proficient at it. Through participation he stimulated the interest for further study and the desire for knowledge of the theoretical aspect of music. By his own example he encouraged vocal performers also to try their hand at composition, and most of the musicians of note in Wales at the turn of the century we were indebted to him for the instruction they had received whether at Aberystwyth, Swansea or Cardiff.

He believed the Welsh to be potentially a very musical yn nation and applied himself wholeheartedly to making this a reality. It was a grateful task; the nation yn admired his determined efforts and felt complimented that so distinguished a man concerned himself about its music. Little wonder, therefore, that at the end the obituary notice in ‘Y Geninen’ could describe Joseph Parry as; “without doubt the most well-known Welshman in the world at the beginning of the twentieth century.”

Death of Dr. Joseph Parry 20.02.1903

Dr Joseph Parry, the well-known musical composer, died on Tuesday evening at his residence, Cartref, Penarth, passing away peacefully in the presence of his family. He was taken ill a fortnight ago, and so serious were the symptoms that an operation was considered advisable a few days later. This was performed by Dr Lynn Thomas, Cardiff, and was in every respect successful. For some days the patient progressed satisfactorily, strong hopes being entertained that with the aid of a strong constitution he would fully recover. Unfortunately, however, there was a relapse, and a further operation became necessary in the early part of last week. This gave relief and hopes were again revived, but on Wednesday of last week there was an alarming rise in the patient’s temperature, and the following day blood-poisoning symptoms developed. With the exception of a brief rally on Saturday, Dr Parry gradually grew weaker, and passed away about 9-30 on Tuesday evening.

Dr Parry was born on the 21st of May, 1841, at Merthyr. His father, Daniel Parry, worked at the Cyfarthfa, and at nine years of age Joseph Parry was enrolled as one of the workers in that busy hive of industry. He was largely self-educated. He composed ‘Blodwen,’ ‘Emmanual,’ and ‘The Maid of Cefn Ydfa’ and numerous songs. Dr Parry at one time filled the chair of music at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth.

Until his seventeenth year Dr Parry was an ironworker, living then at Danville, Pennsylvania, where he emigrated when thirteen years of age. His success as a competitor in musical compactions gained him influential friends, and funds were raided which enabled him to enter the Royal Academy of Music in London. He graduated Mus. Bac., at Cambridge, and proceeded two years later to his doctor’s degree. He returned to America, but in the early seventies came back to Wales as a lecturer on music at University College, Aberystwyth. Subsequently he established a musical institute at Swansea, and about ten years ago want to Cardiff to take up the position at the College which he held at his death. A prolific composer, his choral pieces and psalm tunes have attained great popularity in Wales and America Many of his oratorios and operas have been produced in connection with the Welsh National Eisteddfodau.

Of recent years he sought to establish a school of Welsh national opera, and his opera ‘Blodwen’ has been performed 500 times. Last December his latest opera, ‘The Maid of Cefn Ydfa,” was produced at the Grand Theatre, Cardiff, by the Moody-Manners Opera Company. His oratorios include Emmanuel and “Saul of Tarsus,” while he has written a number of cantatas, over 300 songs, and 400 hymn tunes, including the famous ‘Aberystwyth.’

The Late Dr. Parry a Musical Requiem 28.02.1903

Funeral at Penarth: The mortal remains of the late Dr. Joseph Parry were interred on Saturday after- noon in their last testing place at St. Augustine’s Churchyard, Penarth. The obsequies wove extremely simple, but they were marked by a most affecting solemnity, whilst over the grave of the deceased gifted musician, there gathered a concourse which was typically Welsh.

Under more favourable conditions there is no doubt that the assemblage would have been greater, but as it was the funeral was attended by two or three thousand people, and witnessed by at least three or four times as many spectators among the route from the deceased’s residence in Victoria Avenue to the churchyard. In all the main streets blinds were drawn, flags at half-mast floated over several buildings and the silence of the streets seemed to intensify the gloom which the sad event of the musician’s death had cast over the musical and literary world of Wales.

On the arrival of the procession at Christ Church the coffin was conveyed inside and placed amid the wreaths on a dais near the pulpit. As it was being carried along the aisle; and daring the filling of the chapel, Mr Norman Kendrick played Chopin’s beautiful and moving “Marche Funebre.” The service which was conducted by Rev. J. Gwilym Jones, pastor, was opened by the reading of the burial lesson. The pastor then offered prayer, in the course of which he said “We thank and praise Thee, 0 God, for all that Thy dead servant was; for the virtues which adorned his character for the qualities which enriched his life for his noble manhood for the gifts and powers with which Thou didst endow him above all, for the grace of heart which enabled him to concentrate these gifts and that power to the highest aims. We bless Thee, Lord, for his simple faith, for his piety, for his patient endurance of suffering, and for his quiet and unreserved submission to Thy just and Holy and Sovereign Will. We commend to Thee the nation that mourns a leader the country that today laments the loss of a gifted and worthy son one who gave to her service ungrudgingly of his best, and who taught her out of the fullness of his own heart to sing many a glad song. Oh, God, bless our beloved race. May she ever remain the land of pure and godly song! God of the nations, be our nation’s God.” After this fervent prayer, uttered with an emotion that affected everyone in the crowded and silent edifice, the congregation sang the hymn, “Oh, God, our Help in ages past” to the tune “Dundee.”

The Rev, H. Elvet Lewis, the poet-preacher then gave an address in English, in the course of which bespoke of the simplicity of the deceased’s personal character. Dr. Joseph Parry, he said, vas a true-born son of Wales, and typified the limitations and characteristics of his race and country. Fortune compelled him at the very beginning to work his way strenuously no golden favours helped him to fame. Some of the bravest sons of Wales had begun life in the midst of difficulties, and had conquered them. By and bye be was discovered he came to be known; he came to be famous but the day of fame did not spoil him he remained the simple-hearted friend and companion to the very end of his life and they felt sure of this that no man in these later days had expressed more vividly the true spirit of Wales its “awen.” This Dr. Joseph Parry had done.

He had spoken for his nation, and he would continue to speak for us for a long day to come. He had given another lesson to the children of Wales by what, as the result of his own energy and devotion, he made himself. The musician least of all the sons of men could they bury. They could more easily bury the painter, the preacher, the poet, than they could the musician. The songs which I he had created would not only linger in our memories; but in those of generations yet unborn. In years to come every valley in Wales, the mining districts of Glamorgan and the mountains of North Wales, would resound with the music of the deceased musician.

He lived and would continue to live, and they thanked God today that the music of their brother and friend would continue not only to gladden and to cheer, but to elevate and inspire the sons and daughters of their land. It was true what Tennyson said: “What is built in music seems to be built so airily that it is not built at all; and therefore would live for ever.” If the musician raised no stone pillars all the better. Their stone pillars could crumble to dust, but true music remained an eternal mansion for the soul of man. And might the example of the deceased musician’s dwelling amongst them ennoble the country and sanctify thousands of people to the service of the Most High.

The choir then sang Mendelsohn’s anthem, “Happy and blest,” after which the Rev. Charles Davies, Cardiff, speaking in the absence of Hwfa Mon, the Archdruid, who dad written expressing his inability to be present through indisposition: said the Principality that day mourned the loss of one who had been the servant of the nation. He traced his career said Dr. Parry had made a name for himself on two continents. The sweet sounds of his music would remain the treasure of nations for generations to come. His character was always characterised by warmth, simplicity, and frankness, and by an enthusiasm for his country and its music. Perseverance was a characteristic of him, and where he determined he succeeded. Now that he was dead there would be a greater sweetness in his “Aberystwyth.”

After this address, which was spoken in Welsh, the congregation sang the hymn, New the labourer’s task is o’er to the tune “Requiescat,” and the benediction having been pronounced by Principal Edwards the coffin was removed amid the solemn and magnificent strains of “The Dead March” (“Saul”), finely played by Mr Kendrick.

The over flow service

At the overflow service, which was conducted by the Rev. T. C. Jones (Presbyterian), the Rev. J. M. Davies, M.A., Cardiff, gave an address, in the course of which he said that amid their sorrow that day they were glad to’ be able to think of Dr. Parry as one who achieved in life and handed down to the future an inheritance of song which will cheer the hearts of men for generations to corns. His life was a noble example of the triumph of industry, of perseverance, surmounting the disadvantages of early life and of varying fortune, and nobly rising to the zenith of its aims. He came in the succession of the sweet singers of Wales, and he measured for us the progress and achievements of the musical art of the Principality. The first book in Welsh to teach the theory of music or the gamut was the “Cyfaill mewn Llogell,” (“Friend in Pocket “) of the Rev. John Williams, published at Swansea in 1797. When we came down from these crude beginnings to the oratorios of Dr. Joseph Parry we realised the progress made, and if we considered tile quality and compass of Dr. Parry’s creative work we had to give to him afore- most place. He had carried the art of Wales to the highest point it had reached yet, and he was but a prophecy of still greater work to come. His life also was an example of the consecration of art.

The procession

At the conclusion of the services the procession was reformed, and slowly wended its way to the churchyard in the following order:

Ministers of all Denominations
Deacons of Christ Church Congregational, Penarth
Penarth Committee
Governors and Council of University College
Cardiff Technical Committee
Staff of University College and Technical School
Dr. Parry’s Pupils
Representatives of National Eisteddfod
Representatives of local bodies
United choirs
The hearse
The family

Among those present were:

Ministers Rev. J. Gwilym Jones, Penarth; Rev. Elvet Lewis, London; Rev Charles Davies, Cardiff; Rev. E. Rees (Dyfed), Cardiff; Rev. W. H. Williams (Watcyn Wyn); Rev. D. Jones, Penarth; Rev. J. Clarke, Barry; Rev. T. C. Jones and Rev. D. Jones, Penarth; Rev. Tegfryn Price, Cardiff; Rev. E. G. Thomas, Penarth; Rev. D. T. Phillips, American Consul, Cardiff; Rev. Principal Edwards and Professor J.M. Davies, Cardiff Baptist College; Rev. E. S. Roberts, Penarth; Rev. Tafwys Jones, Caerphilly; Rev. G. Lloyd Evans, Port Talbot; Rev. Harrop Walker, Cardiff; Rev. H. A. Davies, Cwmaman Rev. W.S. Davies, Llwydcoed; Rev. J. Tertius Phillips, Cardiff; Rev. R. S. Prout, Rev. W. J. Davies, Rev. J. M. Evans, Rev.Barac Rees, Llantrisant; Rev. D. Roberts, Penarth Rev. T. Hughes.

Deacons of Christ Church Congregational: Messrs. Griffiths, Evan Jones, W. J. Tillett, S. Davies. R. S. Milne, W. Lee J. Wallace; G. Pike and F. Sully.

The Penarth Opera Committer: Messrs W. W. Jones, E. E. Roberts, and F. C. Thomas. (T. W. David, the other member of the committee, was absent through indisposition.) Cardiff University College: Mr T. Marchant Williams, Mr Evan Owen, J.P. Mr T.H. Thomas, Councillor; Hopkin Smith-Davies, Mr Owen Owen (Welsh Central Board); Professor Lloyd Tanner, F.R.S.; Professor J. S. Mackenzie, Professor Paul Barbier, Oixon, Dr. Perman, Professor Selby. Rev. I. D. Mortice. Mr J. Austin Jenkins, Rev. Tyssul Evans, Dr. A. H. Trow; Mr Ivor B. John, Mr W. Phillips, Mr A. A. Read, Mr Evelyn J. Evett, and about thirty female and thirty male students from the college.

Cardiff Technical Committee: Mr T.H. Riches (chairman), Dr. Alfred Rees, Councillor Grossman (vice-chairman), Councillor S. 0. Williams. Councillor Kidd, Councillor Chappell, Mr. Lester Jones: and Mr Priestley (Water Work Engineer).

Representatives of Musical Societies: Mr T Spencer Curwen, Tonic Solfa College, London; Mr. David Jenkins, Mus. Bac., Aberystwyth University College; Mr. Tom Stephens, Rhondda Glee Society; Mr. W. Thomas, Treorky Royal Male Voice Choir; Mr T. Glyndwr Richards, Mountain Ash Male Voice Choir Mr W. Penfro Rowlands and Mr W. Davies, representing Morriston Easter Musical Festival; Mr Roderick Williams, Cardiff Male Voice Choir; Mr. Rhys Evans, Canton Male Voice Choir; Mr John Price, Rhymney Choral Society Mr Dan Merthyr Choral Society; Mr Harry F.R.C.O., Dowlais Mr D. Farr, Barry Voice Choir; Mr Tom Price, Merthyr, Mr Rhys Evans, Aberdare Choral Union Mr. T.E. Aylward and Mr. Tom Evans, Cardiff Musical Society; Mr W.A. Morgan, Cardiff Orchestral Society Mr. D. Bowen, Abercarn Male Voice; Mr. J.D. Thomas, Swansea Cymmrodorian Male Voice Choir; Mr Rees Jones, Landore;

Mr W. James, Mr John J. Evans, Mr D. Lloyd, Swansea Mr Taliesyn Hopkins, Porth Mr D. L. Prosser, Treorky Mr G. J. Gray, Caerphilly Male Voice Choir Mr Elias H. Davies, J.P., Mr E. N. Williams, Mr Lewis Morgan, Mr John Beynon and Mr D. Christmas Williams, representing Merthyr Cymmrodorian Society Mr M. O. Jones, Treherbert Mr B. P. Evans, Treharris; Mr Isaac Samuel, Cardiff Mr Lloyd Jones, Llwytmor, examiner in music Glamorgan County Council; Mr Rhedynog Price, Cardiff; Mrs Maria Jones, Mr Dd. Davies, “Dewi Fychan,” Cardiff; Mr Tom Samuel and Mr Morgan Davies, Whitchurch United Choir Mr W. E. Singer and Mr Parker, Penarth Eisteddfod Mr W. Baullt Jones, Mountain Ash; Mr E. R. Gronow, representing the International Male Voice Competition Mr James Thomas, Mr Evan Thomas, Cwmavon Mr D. Thomas, Dewi Bach, Mountain Ash; Mr Harold M. Lloyd, Mr A. Leidtke, Mr J. Passfield, Mr H. Cadenne. representing Cardiff Amateur Operatic Society Mr Dd. Chubb, Pontypridd Mr R. A. Lewis and Mr Sherwood, Penarth Male Voice Choir Mr Silvanus Davies, Cardiff Mr J. Phillips, Port Talbot Male Voice Choir Mr T. Pritchard, Newport Mr Roger Williams (Isander), Carnarvon Mr Miles Beynon, Merthyr Sir Percy G. Smith, Rhondda Glee Society; Mr Thomas Thomas, Pembroke Terrace Choir. Cardiff.

Joseph Parry

The united choirs consisted of representatives from almost all the choral organisations of Glamorganshire.

Amongst the others present were the following, many of whom are interested in Welsh music: The Mayor of Cardiff (Councillor Edward Thomas) and Mrs Thomas, Dr. W. Williams, M.A., Glamorgan County Council.; Mr T. H. Mordey, Mr F. H. Jotham, C.C., Mr R. H. Renwick, Miss Bleby, Captain Richards, M, G. A. Herbert Price (Penarth Free Church Council), Mr Hutton Evans; Mr L. Wyard. Mr Dd. Parker; Mr J. T. Owen, Mr W. A. Wood, Mr T. Edwards, Penarth; Mr S. Williams, Blaengarw; Dr. Morris, Ffynnon, Swansea; D. Jones (Dafydd Morganwg), Mr Edgar Jones, Barry Mr Chas. Morgan, B.A., Cardiff Pupil Teachers’ School Mr J. H. Illingworth, Mr R. Jones, Mr M. Nicholas, Mr D. J. Griffiths, Councillors R. J. Handcock, J. Pavey, W. Hallett, D. Morgan, Penarth Mr J. Kyte Collett, Cardiff Mr Blake Benjamin, Captain Black, Mr Ellis Roberts, Mr A. W. Pike, Cardiff Mr H. Radcliffe, Cardiff Mr Lovell, Mr R. Edwards- James, Cardiff Cymmrodorion Society Mr G. O. Davies, Mr H. J. Vincent, Barry Mr Jacob Davies, Mr David Beynon, Mr Evan Jones, Cardiff; Mr D. E. Davies, solicitor, Cardiff Mr William Lewis, Cardiff; Mr Evan Jones, Mr Samuel Davies, Mr F. J. Sally, Penarth Mr 1 Ishmael Harris, Cardiff Mr Geo. Pyke. Cardiff Vigilance Society Mr J. O Davies. Barry Mr T. Morris (chairman of the Barry District Glee Society), Mr W. S. Thomas, Cardiff Mr W. Arthur Davies, Mr W. A. Davies (solicitor), Swansea; Sir A. H. Thomas, Llansamlet; Mr F. A. Gray (chief inspector of mines, Cardiff District), Eos Cynlais, Treorky Mr W. C. Williams, Merthyr; Mr Martin Thomas. Cardiff; Mr Cecil Williams, Tenby Mr John Llewelyn, Bargoed Mr E. F. Cann, Mr J. Sandford, Mr John Pickford, Mr Fred Sandford, and Mr G. Roberts (representing Penarth P.S.A.), Mr Jacob Hughes, Penarth Mr J. Price Powell, Cardiff; Mr D. J. Morgan, Mr J. Cook, Penarth: Mr D. E. Jones, Machen Messrs J. W. Jones and T. Thomas, Swansea Mr J. P. Gibbon (agent North’s Navigation Colliery, Maesteg), Dr. Hughes, Mr D. H. Edmunds, Mr G. C. Howell, I.S.M. Mr John White, Mr Walter Davies, Mr G. If. Elkington, Penarth Mr David Davies (Dewi ap Iago), Mr John Jones, Aberthaw Mr Evan Roberta, Penarth; Mr D C. Davies, Pentre; Mr John Baynham, Merthyr and Dr. Mullin.

At the rear came the hearse, almost entirely covered by wreaths, and the carriages with the principal mourners, who included Mrs Parry (widow), Mrs E. Wilkie Waite and Miss Dilys Parry (daughters), Mrs Haydn Parry (daughter-in-law), Mr E. W. Waite (son-in-law), Mr William Watkins (ex. Mayor of Swansea, and father of Mrs Haydn Parry), Mr C. Williams, Tenby (brother of Mrs Mendelssohn Parry).

In the other carriages were Mrs Dr. Williams, Dr. and Mrs Hibbert, Mr and Mrs Patterson (Barry Dock), Mrs Henry Radcliffe and daughter (Penarth), Mrs Fulton (Penarth), Mrs Lester Jones (Llandough), Miss Jones (Aberystwyth), and Miss Jenkins (Cardiff)

At the graveside

At the graveside the Rev. J. Gwilym Jones read the second portion of the burial service, and the concourse having sung “Jesu, lover of my soul” to the tune of “Aberystwyth,” the Rev. Evan Rees (Dyfed) pronounced the benediction in Welsh. The obsequies wore concluded by the rendering of a selection from the deceased composer’s “Pilgrims Chorus,” by the representatives of the united choirs. The coffin in which the body was enclosed by a. shell and which was of polished oak with heavy brass fittings bore the Inscription Dr. Joseph Parry, born 1st May, 1841, died 17th February, 1903.”

The wreaths

The wreaths were very numerous and of a most beautiful description. Mrs Parry’s wreath bore |he inscription “In loving memory, from wife and daughter,” and it was composed of Christmas roses, azaleas, arum lilies and ferns. The Honourable Mrs Herbert of Llanover, sent a wreath of arum lilies, azaleas and white anemones as a. tribute “to the memory of an old friend,” and a large sized harp, with a broken string, composed of Christmas roses, azaleas, arum lilies, lilies of the valley and violets, and bore the motto, In affectionate remembrance of Dr. Parry, from his devoted friends, T. W. David, W. W. Jones, E. Cottam, E. Roberts and P. C. Thomas.” On the: University College wreath were the words “Arwydd o barch a serch oddiwrth dydathrawon, Dr. Parry yn eu galar.” It was composed of arum, lilies; hyacinths, narcissus and asparagus.

The other wreaths were from daughter, son-in-law, and Doreen; Barry Alderman W. Watkins and family, Ashleigh, Swansea Mrs Mendelssohn Parry, Miss Peggy Gregor, Madame Mary Davies, London Mr and Mrs T. A. Davies. Mr and Mrs Thomas Thomas, Mr and Mrs Arnold, Mr and Mrs Lynn Thomas, Penylan Mr Leigh Thomas, Isle of Wight Mr Fred Tillett, pastor and deacons of Christ Church, Penarth Sir John Jones and Miss Jenkins, Swansea; Mr and Mrs Matthews, Ealing Dan, Bob, and Tom,” three old London friends Mrs Fulton Ebenezer Chapel Choir, Swansea Mr and Mrs Kirkpatrick, Dr and Mrs Williams, Mr and Mrs Dan Jones, Mr and Mrs Henry Radcliffe, Miss L. Charles- Jones, Captain Hansen and daughters, Mr and Mrs Taylor, St. Anne’s on Sea Mr and Mrs Pepperill and Miss Jenkins, Mr and Mrs Percy Phillips and Mr Tom Pritchard, Newport Mr and Mrs O. Thomas, Cardiff Musical Society, Mr and Mrs Anthony, Mr and Mrs Redford, Cardiff Orchestral Society, Mr Harold Thomas, Incorporated Society of Musicians, Mr Chris Williams, Rhondda Glee Society, Cardiff Amateur Operatic Society, students of University College, Cardiff Mr and Mrs Harold Lloyd, Mr and Miss Coulthurst, Dr. Biddle. Merthyr; Royal Welsh Male Voice Choir, Treorky; Mr and Mrs J. W. Courtis, Mrs G. R Jones and Mr J. G. Jones, Mr and Mrs T. W. David, Mr and Mrs Thomas, Dulwich Mr and Miss Davies, New Southgate; staff and students of Pupil Teachers’ School, students of University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire. Miss L. Evans, Dr. Parry’s colleagues, Mrs Sims and sons, Mr and Mrs Cottam, Gertie and Nellie; Mr and Mrs Wyard; Penarth Male Voice Party, and Mr Smith of Barry.

The funeral arrangements were carried out by Messrs S. Andrews and Son, and Inspector Hallett and ten members of the Penarth police force superintended the street traffic.