He competed again and swept the board
at the 1864 National Eisteddfod at Llandudno
and at the Aberystwyth National Eisteddfod
of 1865, deciding this time to visit in person.
He set sail from New York to Liverpool in
mid-August, arriving at Aberystwyth on 12
September to the shock realisation that every
one of his compositions had been `lost.'
A mystery that was never solved!
Harriet Davies, Cardiff, who|
took the lead soprano at the
first performance of Blodwen
Parry held the Chair of Music at
Aberystwyth from 1874-1879, set up
his own School of Music there on his
dismissal in 1879, and formed his own
College of Music at Swansea in 1881
before being appointed university lecturer
at Cardiff in 1888. |
Most of his large-scale works date
from the Cardiff period, all of which
were undermined of their vitality since
he felt obliged to use a nondescript style
thought to be proper for a Doctor of Music.
His biographical details read like a
novel. Indeed, Jack Jones based his Off
to Philadelphia in the morning on Parry's life.
Born in Merthyr Tydfil on 21 May 1841,
he emigrated with his family to Danville,
Pennsylvania in 1854 and started to work
in the Rough and Ready Rolling Mills.
He had been fascinated with music since
his early days spent listening to the Cyfarthfa
Brass Band. His interest was developed
by two of his co-workers at the steel
mill. He also played the harmonium,
first at the Danville Welsh Congregational
Church and then at the East Mahoning
Winning his first prize for composing
in 1860, in 1862 he resolved to compete
in every composing competition at the
Swansea National Eisteddfod of 1863.
He was awarded either first or equal first
prize across the board and praised to the
rafters by such influential Welsh musicians
like Brinley Richards, the famous London-
based pianist and John Thomas, harpist
to Queen Victoria. This was during the
American Civil War, when he only just
succeeded from being pressed into the
Grand Army of the Republic.
However, his acceptance into the
Gorsedd of Bards under the title of
`Pencerdd America,' and the setting
up of a fund allowing him to attend the
Royal Academy in London, made up
for the disappointment.
He also swept the board at the Chester
National Eisteddfod in 1886. In 1871 he was
awarded the degree of Bachelor of Music
from Cambridge, an incredible achievement
for a man who had hardly ever seen a silver
spoon, let alone being born with one
in his mouth. In 1878 he further gilded
his reputation by gaining his doctorate
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