Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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EVANS , DAVID EMLYN ( 1843 - 1913 ), musician .

B. 21 Sept. 1843 , at Newcastle Emlyn, Carms. , son of Evan Evans ( 1817 - 1902 ) and his wife Mary ( 1816 - 1884 ) both of whom were buried in the old cemetery at Tre-wen , Cwm-cou . Evan Evans 's mother (née Peregryn ) was of Huguenot stock and descended from the Francis family of Dinas Ceri and Cwmsylltyn and was a relative of Enoch Francis ( 1688/9 - 1740 ) ; his father fought in the battle against the French at Fishguard in 1797 , and the sword which he used was kept near the fireplace in the livingroom at Brynderwen , Newcastle Emlyn , and subsequently used by Evan Evans when he took part in the Rebecca Riots . Evan Evans , a foreman in the Cyfarthfa steel works , used to frequent sales in old houses and farmhouses and built up a good library.

Emlyn Evans was apprenticed as a draper's assistant at Bridgend, Glam. , and began his studies with the help of the scant Welsh musical textbooks available at the time and occasional lessons from John Roberts ( Ieuan Gwyllt , 1822-7 ) . He gained numerous eisteddfodic successes for composition and became a commercial traveller , at the same time continuing to devote himself to composition , adjudicating , and criticism , under great difficulties of indifferent health and unsettling conditions of travelling. Up to his marriage, he led a migratory life — at Swansea , Cheltenham , and Newtown, Mont. ; but in 1878 he m. Anne Elizabeth ( Francis ) , widow of Mynyddog ( Richard Davies , 1833 - 1877 ) ; they lived for two years at Shrewsbury , then ( 1880-94 ) at Hereford , and finally at Cemaes, Mont. His compositions include numerous songs, anthems, glees, part-songs, and hymn-tunes, of which ‘ Trewen ’ and ‘ Eirinwg ’ have become well known in Welsh circles. He wrote three extended choral works: ‘ Y Tylwyth Teg ,’ an operetta in which use is made of Welsh melodies, a cantata, ‘ Gweddi'r Cristnogion ,’ and a more ambitious work on oratorio lines, ‘ Y Caethgludiad .’ He also orchestrated ‘ Ystorm Tiberias ’ by Edward Stephen ( Tanymarian ) , the first Welsh oratorio.

As an editor , critic , and adjudicator , Emlyn Evans made a distinctive contribution to the art of music in Wales . He took part in the editorship of Y Gerddorfa , 1872 , Y Cerddor , 1880-1913 , and several hymnals, including the Welsh Congregational Caniedydd Cynulleidfaol , 1895 , Y Salmydd , and Llyfr Tonau y Wesleyaid . He also edited and harmonized upwards of 500 traditional airs collected by Nicholas Bennett , afterwards publishing them as Alawon fy Ngwlad , and brought through press the biography of Welsh musicians , Bywgraffiad Cerddorion Cymreig , by Moses O. Jones . His articles in the press ( Musical Times , South Wales Weekly News , etc.) greatly influenced Welsh music. He expressed his views fearlessly against the prevailing over-indulgence in glee-writing merely for purposes of eisteddfodic gain, and against the lack of discrimination and taste in hymn-singing in Wales . He published a successful Welsh textbook on harmony, Llawlyfr ar Gynghanedd . He d. 19 April 1913 at Newcastle Emlyn and was buried 24 April at Llandyfrïog, Cards.


  • E. Keri Evans , Cofiant D. Emlyn Evans (1919) ;
  • Western Mail , 22 April 1913 .


Professor David Ewart Parry Williams, D.Mus., (1900-96), Bangor

Emrys Peregryn Evans (1898-1981), London

Published date: 1959