Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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MILLS , RICHARD ( Rhydderch Hael ; 1809 - 1844 ), musician ;

b. in March 1809 at Tynewydd , Llanidloes , son of the second marriage of Henry Mills (q.v.) . Leaving school at 11, he was apprenticed to weaving . When only 15 he became known as a musician , for his hymn-tune ‘ Maes-y-llan ’ was printed in Seren Gomer ; and he was an active member of Bethel (Llanidloes) Musical Society . In 1835 Y Gwladgarwr printed a lecture of his on music. He took prizes for hymn-tunes at the Abergavenny Cymreigyddion eisteddfod of 1838 , and at a Liverpool eisteddfod in 1840 . In 1840 appeared his Caniadau Seion — supplement in 1842 . These two collections greatly influenced congregational singing in Wales , and were landmarks in the story of its improvement; they contained hymn-tunes by Mills himself and by J. Ambrose Lloyd , and Rosser Beynon (qq.v.) , and anthems from Handel and Haydn . More tunes and anthems appeared in Yr Arweinydd Cerddorol (three parts, 1842-5 , the last posthumous), with hints on music and on singing; in this work a German hymn-tune ( J. S. Bach 's ‘ Mannheim ’) appeared for the first time in Wales . The three parts had a very wide sale, and greatly improved congregational singing. Mills also lectured widely on this subject. He d. 24 Dec. 1844 ; his widow m. John Pryse (q.v.) .

His son, RICHARD MILLS ( 1840 - 1903 ), carried the family musical tradition into east Denbighshire . On his father's death the boy had been sent to his maternal grandfather at Newtown , but later he returned to Llanidloes as a staff-notation compositor in his stepfather John Pryse 's printing office. He studied music diligently, won an eisteddfod prize for his hymn-tune ‘ Pen-dref ,’ and another ( 1864 ) for a canon for three voices. He moved to Wrexham to serve the publishing firm of Hughes and Son , whose music-publishing he supervised down to 1877 , while conducting choirs at Wrexham , Broughton , and Bangor Iscoed . But his marriage in 1876 with Sarah Owen of Aberderfyn , Rhosllannerchrugog , led him, in 1878 , to set up a press there — where, in 1894 , he also started the Rhos Herald newspaper, which he edited till his death, and where, too, he conducted a very successful choir . He composed a good deal of music — anthems, hymn-tunes, and songs — and arranged many hymn-tunes . His hymn-tune ‘ Arweiniad ’ is well known. He d. 18 May 1903 , and was buried in Rhosllannerchrugog cemetery.

Sources:

  • R. Mills and N. Cynhafal Jones , Buchdraeth y Parch. John Mills. F.R.G.S., M.R.A.S … (Aberdar, 1881) ;
  • Y Traethodydd , 1901, 1902, 1903 ;
  • Y Cerddor , Dec. 1890 , Jan. 1891 , July 1903 ;
  • Bye–Gones, relating to Wales and the Border Counties , 1903 ;
  • Cymru (O.M.E.) , v, 30;
  • M. O. Jones , Bywgraffiaeth Cerddorion Cymreig (1890) .

Author:

Principal Gwilym Prichard Ambrose, M.A., Caerleon

Published date: 1959