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Joseph Parry

Joseph Parry (21 May 1841 – 17 February 1903) was a Welsh composer and musician. Born in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, he is best known as the composer of "Myfanwy" and the hymn tune "Aberystwyth", on which the African song "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" is said to be based. Parry was also the first Welshman to compose an opera; his composition, Blodwen, was the first opera in the Welsh language.

Born into a large family, Parry left school to work in the local coal mines when he was nine years of age. He then went to work at the Cyfarthfa Ironworks, where his father was also employed. In 1854 the family emigrated to the United States, settling at Danville, Pennsylvania, where Parry again found employment at an iron works.

Though Parry had a great interest in music, he had no opportunity to study it until there was a temporary closure of the Rough and Ready Iron Works. Some of his co-workers were also musicians, and they offered music lessons while the iron works was closed. Parry joined a music sight-reading class taught by one of the men. He continued to study harmony with another co-worker, and learned how to read and write while he was learning about harmony.

Parry soon began submitting compositions to eisteddfodau in Wales and the United States and winning awards. During a return visit to Wales for the National Eisteddfod at Llandudno, Parry was offered two music scholarships, but was unable to accept due to family obligations. A fund was established for the support of Parry and his family while he studied music.

Parry went on to receive a Doctorate in Music from the University of Cambridge; he was the first Welshman to receive Bachelor's and Doctor's degrees in music from the University. He returned to Wales in 1874 to become the first Professor of Music at Aberystwyth University, later accepting a position at Cardiff University.

Birth and Death Data: Born May 21st, 1841 (Merthyr Tydfil;Joseph Parry's Cottage), Died Penarth

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1912 - 1927

Roles Represented in DAHR: composer, lyricist


Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor B-23734 10-in. 2/11/1920 Aberystwyth Glyndwr Mountain Ash Welsh Male Choir Male vocal chorus, unaccompanied composer  
Victor B-27548 10-in. 2/13/1923 Y milwr dewr John George Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer  
Victor CVE-40085 12-in. 11/18/1927 Mae Cymru'n barod John T. Jones ; William A. Jones Male vocal duet, with orchestra composer  
Victor [Trial 1919-12-12-02] Not documented 12/12/1919 Baner ein gwlad, op. 23, no. 1 Edward Lloyd Male vocal solo, with piano composer  
Victor [Trial 1922-05-26-03] 10-in. 5/26/1922 The sailor's chorus Cambrian Male Quartet Male vocal chorus composer  
Columbia 6302 12-in. Make new friends, but keep the old Morgan Kingston Tenor vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Columbia 29610 10-in. either 1914 or 1915 Aberystwyth Mixed vocal quartet (unidentified; Columbia Records) Mixed vocal quartet, with orchestra composer  
Gramophone y15870e 10-in. 10/28/1912 Myfarwy Côr Meibion Cymreig Male vocal chorus, with piano composer  


Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Parry, Joseph," accessed October 31, 2020,

Parry, Joseph. (2020). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved October 31, 2020, from

"Parry, Joseph." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2020. Web. 31 October 2020.

DAHR Persistent Identifier



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