Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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GRIFFITHS , ROBERT ( 1824 - 1903 ), musician ;

b. 21 May 1824 at Carmarthen to parents who moved a year afterwards to Bristol . He was possessed of a good voice and was made precentor in the Sunday school at Broadmead chapel . He joined the Bristol Orpheus Society and the Madrigal Singing Society . On the death of his father he went to London where he became precentor in the Baptist chapel , Islington Green . After hearing John Curwen lecturing (in 1851 ) on the tonic solfa in the literary institute he began to take an interest in that system. When the Tonic Solfa Society was formed in 1853 he became its secretary . In 1854 he went to Manchester where the tonic solfa system was still new. He started classes in connection with Sunday schools ; so successful was he as an organizer of such classes that when he left Manchester (in 1865 ) for London , there were over 2,000 pupils and over 200 teachers of the system. The reason for his return to London was his appointment as secretary to John Curwen ; he was also given the task of extending the use of the tonic solfa system . When the tonic solfa college was founded in 1875 he became its secretary and he laboured assiduously to popularize the system, lecturing throughout England and Wales . He composed several pieces of music of a religious character . On retirement in 1900 he went to reside at Ilford where he d. 1 Jan. 1903 ; he was buried in the cemetery of that town.


  • M. O. Jones , Bywgraffiaeth Cerddorion Cymreig (1890) ;
  • Rhestr gyda nodiadau byrion, o Enwogion Cymreig o 1700 i 1900 (1908) ;
  • Y Cerddor , Sept. 1901 , ibid., Feb. 1902 .


Robert David Griffith, M.A., (1877-1958), Old Colwyn

Published date: 1959