Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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RICHARDS , JOHN ( Isalaw ; 1843 - 1901 ), musician ;

b. 13 July 1843 at Hirael , Bangor , in a house called the King's head (a memorial tablet was placed on his house in 1931 ), the son of Richard and Mary Richards , the father was from Milford Haven, Pembs. , the mother from Llangwnadl, Caerns. After some time at the Garth British school , Bangor , he attended the Shoreland Road school , Birmingham , for two years; it was at Birmingham , under guidance from Andrew Deakin , an organist , that he began to learn music. After returning to Bangor he mastered the Tonic Sol-fa system and together with Thomas Williams , precentor at the Tabernacle C.M. chapel , formed a Tonic Sol-fa class , the first ever held in Bangor and district. An excellent penman , he rendered considerable help to composers by converting their work into script, correcting it, and preparing it for printing and publication; his services were much in demand also as a maker of illuminated addresses . He contributed articles on music to various periodicals; for Y Cymro he wrote a novel (‘ Teulu Min y Môr ’) which was serialized. He composed much, publishing Caneuon Isalaw and other works. His part-songs, especially his part-songs written to words by some hymnists (e.g. Ieuan Glan Geirionydd , Ann Griffiths , qq.v.), were very popular, some of them (‘ Bydd melus cofio y cyfamod ,’ ‘ Enaid cu, mae dyfroedd oerion ’) continuing so. His best-known hymn-tune is probably that called ‘ Sanctus .’ He was working, at the request of the Liverpool Philharmonic choir , on a musical composition entitled ‘ The Task is Ended ,’ intended for Easter, 1902 , but d. 15 Sept. 1901 , before completing it, and was buried in Glanadda cemetery , Bangor .


  • Y Cerddor , April 1898 and Oct. 1901.


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

Published date: 1959