ISSUE 12, January 2005

Kitchener of Khartoum: Mason extraordinary
Travel: Where east meets west
Veteran Honoured: Old soldier remembered
Royal Masonic Family: The Six Masonic Sons of George III, Part 1
Supreme Grand Chapter: Speech of the Pro First Grand Principal and, Report of the Committee of General Purposes
  Quarterly Communication: Address of the Pro Grand Master and, Report of the Board of General Purposes
Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London: London's first consecration
Soccer: Man in the Middle
Wales: Joseph Parry - flawed genius?
Library & Museum: Donations gather pace
Education: Dates for your diary and, Planning a 'white table' and, Looking to the future and, Time marches on
Grand Charity: General meeting and non-Masonic grant list
Masonic Charities: Reports from the four main charities
Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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Parry's grave at St Augustine's Church, Penarth

Parry's home at Aberystwyth from 18791881 when he also ran his College of Music following his dismissal from the university

Parry's home on Heol Llanbadarn, where he lived from 1874-1878
    He set up his own Music Institute at Danville, just over the road from the opera house on Railroad Street, but left in 1874 to reside permanently, apart from his many visits to the US, in Wales.
     To the ordinary music-loving individual he was `y doctor mawr' (the great doctor). However, he was not an easy man to deal with. He was not afraid of anybody. He had no tact. He tended to be nave and had more than a good measure of his own self-importance in the world.
     Like Richard Wagner, he believed that the main purpose of musical societies and foundations in Wales was to bring his musical ideas into fruition and to perform his works. Consequently he was not that popular with his fellow musicians, though the ordinary people worshipped him.
     Myfanwy was first published in 1875. The name was in use years before then and the publication of Joseph Parry's famous part song did not lead to popularising the name despite the success of the song.
     Blodwen, on the other hand, took the country by storm. A new Christian name for girls was invented! Before 1878 it appears that no girl had been so christened. John Parry was a bootmaker living in Gogerddan Cottages, Aberystwyth. A little girl was born to him and his wife a few days after the first performance and she was christened Blodwen Meddanen. Another interesting feature in the use of the name is that it was far more popular in south Wales than in the north. A not so marked increase can also be detected in the use of the name Howell, the home of the chief male character in the opera.
     Parry visited the US in the summer of 1898 for the penultimate time. Whilst he was at Danville, the Edison Bell Company made a phonographic recording at a Gymanfa Ganu held at the East Mahoning Presbyterian Church, which included a speech by Joseph Parry. Does the sound of his voice still exist somewhere?
     Parry is still remembered in Danville, Pa. There is a plaque outside one of his homes there in his memory and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has been petitioned to set an official `historical marker' in his name. Furthermore, a heritage concert in tribute to him was held as part of the Danville Festival to mark the centenary of his death. He would have been most pleased that the programme was comprised of his music alone.
     In Merthyr, his birthplace at 4 Chapel Row is open to the public.
     He died on 17 March 1903, at his home, `Cartref', 23 Plymouth Road, Penarth. Tribute concerts of his works were given at Merthyr Tydfil and Penarth. Services of Remembrance were also held and lectures delivered in his honour.
     Over 7,000 mourners turned up at his funeral service at Bethel, Plassey Street. He was buried by St Augustine's Church on Penarth Head where his striking marble memorial still stands.
     Within less than 20 years of his death the pendulum of Parry's `greatness' had swung to the opposite side. Pre-eminence was given to his failings, lack of originality, alleged plagiarism and lack of taste and judgment. However, during the last decade a breath of objectiveness has set in, showing and placing Joseph Parry in his true context.
     For a boy who started working down the Roblins Pit at Merthyr Tydfil from the age of nine for the equivalent of twelve and a half pence for a 56-hour week, his achievements were incredible.

I would like to thank Diane Clements, Director of the Library and Museum of Freemasonry, London and W. Bro. John C. Davies for their invaluable assistance in preparing this article.

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