A new website has been created for The Dictionary of Welsh Biography. It will be launched at the beginning of November 2018 and will include new content, functions and design. Head over to biography.wales now to see what's new!
R. J. Derfel (q.v.) was responsible for teaching him to set store by the language, traditions and history of Wales . It was he who objected to English surnames; he added ‘Derfel’ to his own baptismal name and so became Robert Jones Derfel ; he besought John Hughes to follow his example, but the latter was content to insert the name ‘Ceiriog’ between the ‘John’ and the ‘Hughes.’
Idris Fychan was a singer to the harp ; he had been collecting melodies and penillion , like Edward Jones , Ifor Ceri , and others before him. It was from him that Ceiriog got that passion for collecting old tunes which was to last all his life. He also sought out the history of the tunes and of the harpists who played them , and collected nursery rhymes . It was his intention to publish four volumes of Welsh airs but only one appeared, Cant o Ganeuon: Yn Cynwys, Y Gyfres Gyntafo Eiriau ar Alawon Cymreig , but in Y Bardd a'r Cerddor he has a list of 1,195 of them and he maintains that there were between sixty and 100 anonymous airs. It is quite impossible to understand Ceiriog 's poetry without taking into consideration his love of collecting old melodies , for his objective as a poet was to write words for these melodies, and so to convert them into songs. In Y Bardd a'r Cerddor he wrote ‘ Awgrymiadau Ynghylch Ysgrifenu Caneuon a Geiriau i Gerddoriaeth ’ which dealt with the art of adapting words to melodies. Although Ceiriog did not understand the technique of music, he had, according to Idris Fychan , a remarkable gift for getting the ‘feel’ of an air and of incorporating its ‘spirit’ in words. In all his songs his words are more than mere words; they are words which are wedded to the particular air. Ceiriog 's songs are best seen in Songs of Wales ( Brinley Richards ). It is clear from his letters that some of his songs and recitations were written to order, to be sung or recited at concerts and entertainments. Ceiriog was the poet of the pianoforte, the poet of the concert platform.
In 1865 he returned to Wales , as station-master on the Cambrian Railways , at Llanidloes ; in 1870 he went to Towyn , and in 1871 was appointed superintendent of the newly opened line from Caer-sws to the Van lead mines . Nicholas Bennett (q.v.) of Glanyrafon lived near Trefeglwys , and it was to him, the ‘ Kindly Neighbour and Bosom Friend of John Ceiriog Hughes ,’ that Isaac Foulkes (q.v.) dedicated the last volume of Ceiriog 's songs, Yr Oriau Olaf . John Ceiriog Hughes d. 23 April 1887 and was buried at Llanwnog . [His work, originally published in separate booklets, was collected into two volumes ( Wrexham , n.d.); a third was published at Liverpool , 1888 .]
David Gwenallt Jones, M.A., (1899-1968), Aberystwyth
Published date: 1959