The Life of Caradog

Bywyd Caradog

Cynon Valley Museum Trust is proud to present The Life of Caradog’ – the history of the Welsh conductor, Griffith Rhys Jones (1834 – 1897).

This exhibition has been researched and written by museum staff and volunteers. CVMT would like to thank them all for their contributions: Anthony Gafael, Cecily Roberts, Clare Rees, Derek Williams, Kelvin Jones, Nerys Humphries, Richard Soulsby, Robert Glare, Sarah Mayo, Sarah Bryant, Valerie Manning, Wendy Donovan.

CVMT would be remiss not to mention our long-standing volunteer, the late Mr. Geoffrey Evans. Geoffrey was a renowned local historian with an avid interest in theatre and music. He produced research on Caradog, focusing on the Crystal Palace Competitions of 1872 and 1873, which has been referenced in the exhibition. CVMT is proud to dedicate this exhibition to Geoffrey in celebration of his love for Welsh musical culture.

1. Early Life

Griffith Rhys Jones was born on 21st December 1834, at the now lost Rose & Crown Tavern, situated on Mill Street, Trecynon. By the age of 7 “Griff o’r Crown” was celebrated for his musical talent.  Years before he became internationally renowned as Caradog, Griffith Rhys Jones was locally famous as a violinist and storyteller, often performing for large crowds at pubs across Aberdare and Trecynon.

Griffith never had a formal musical education, due to family circumstances, such as his father, John, dying when he was young. His two older brothers, John and David, would join him in entertaining the community.  John taught and inspired his youngest brother to develop his musical talents.  At first, Griff was so small, he had to stand his violin on the floor, like a cello.

When brother John passed away, Griff taught himself by studying classical music and playing the crwth; a celtic instrument similar to a violin.  He was apprenticed to be a blacksmith at Llwydcoed Ironworks, where his father worked as an engineer.  But music was his passion, and he spent as much time as he could with other musicians and taught singing to choirs.

Mill Street, Trecynon, approximately 1945. Image reproduced by kind permission from Rhondda Cynon Taf Libraries.

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Llwydcoed Ironworks. Image reproduced by kind permission from Rhondda Cynon Taf Libraries.

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1. Bywyd Cynnar

Ganwyd Griffith Rhys Jones yn y dafarn diflanedig, y ‘Rose & Crown’, Heol y Felin, Trecynon ar 21ain o Ragfyr 1834. Erbyn iddo droi’n 7 mlwydd oed, roedd ‘Griff y Crown’ yn cael ei glodfori am ei dalent cerddorol. Blynyddoedd cyn iddo gael ei adnabod yn Genedlaethol fel Caradog, bu Griffith Rhys Jones yn enwog yn lleol fel chwaraewr ffidil ac adroddwr straeon o fri, yn perfformio’n aml i dorfeydd enfawr ar draws tafarndai Aberdâr a Threcynon.

Ni chafodd Griffith addysg ffurfiol gerddorol o ganlyniad i amgylchiadau teuluol, megis marwolaeth gynnar ei dad, John. Yn aml byddai ei ddau frawd hŷn, John a David, yn ymuno ag ef i ddiddanu’r gymuned. Dysgodd ac ysbrydolodd John ei frawd iau i ddatblygu ei ddawn gerddorol. I ddechrau, roedd Griff mor fach, byddai’n sefyll ei ffidil ar y llawr, fel soddgrwth.

Pan bu farw ei frawd John, addysgodd Griff ei hun trwy astudio cerddoriaeth glasurol a chwarae’r crwth; offeryn draddodiadol Celtaidd sy’n debyg i ffidil. Enillodd brentisiaeth gan gof yng ngweithfeydd Llwydcoed, lle’r oedd ei dad wedi gweithio fel peiriannydd. Serch hyn, roedd yn angerddol am gerddoriaeth, ac fe dreuliodd cymaint o amser ag oedd yn bosibl iddo wneud gyda cherddorion eraill ac addysgodd ganu corawl.

2. Rise to Success

Griffith’s musical career started at an early age. He pursued his devotion to music outside of his employment at the Iron works.

First, he became a violinist with the Aberdare Philharmonic Society. In 1853, aged 19, he conducted his first choir at the Unitarian Chapel, Trecynon. In June of the same year, Griffith Rhys Jones took the choir to an eisteddfod in Aberafan; the test piece was Beethhoven’s ‘Hallelujah to the Father’.

The choir was named ‘Cor Caradog ap Bran’ in reference to the heroic character in the Welsh mythological literature ‘The Mabinogion’. The success of this specific choir had a long-lasting effect on the conductor’s career, because from then on he was known as Caradog.

In 1858, during his early twenties, Caradog was appointed conductor of the Aberdare United Choir. This choir went on to win first prize at eisteddfodau, making Caradog skills as a conductor renowned. In 1861, Caradog was responsible for the choir that secured the win at the first National Eisteddfod, held in Aberdare.

In 1870, Caradog moved to Treorchy in the Rhondda valley, where he formed a male voice choir. Soon after Caradog became choir master of the South Wales Choral Union. This was widely celebrated by the people of Aberdare, who held the local conductor in such high regard, and many contributed to the four hundred strong choir.

Caradog and his wife. Image reproduced by kind permission from Rhondda Cynon Taf Libraries.

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ACVMS 1997.1711 Drawing of Caradog, date unknown, 'Yours Faithfully Griffith R. Jones (Caradog) written in the corner.

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2. Llwybr i lwyddiant

Ganwyd Griffith Rhys Jones yn y dafarn diflanedig, y ‘Rose & Crown’, Heol y Felin, Trecynon ar 21ain o Ragfyr 1834. Erbyn iddo droi’n 7 mlwydd oed, roedd ‘Griff y Crown’ yn cael ei glodfori am ei dalent cerddorol. Blynyddoedd cyn iddo gael ei adnabod yn Genedlaethol fel Caradog, bu Griffith Rhys Jones yn enwog yn lleol fel chwaraewr ffidil ac adroddwr straeon o fri, yn perfformio’n aml i dorfeydd enfawr ar draws tafarndai Aberdâr a Threcynon.

Ni chafodd Griffith addysg ffurfiol gerddorol o ganlyniad i amgylchiadau teuluol, megis marwolaeth gynnar ei dad, John. Yn aml byddai ei ddau frawd hŷn, John a David, yn ymuno ag ef i ddiddanu’r gymuned. Dysgodd ac ysbrydolodd John ei frawd iau i ddatblygu ei ddawn gerddorol. I ddechrau, roedd Griff mor fach, byddai’n sefyll ei ffidil ar y llawr, fel soddgrwth.

Pan bu farw ei frawd John, addysgodd Griff ei hun trwy astudio cerddoriaeth glasurol a chwarae’r crwth; offeryn draddodiadol Celtaidd sy’n debyg i ffidil. Enillodd brentisiaeth gan gof yng ngweithfeydd Llwydcoed, lle’r oedd ei dad wedi gweithio fel peiriannydd. Serch hyn, roedd yn angerddol am gerddoriaeth, ac fe dreuliodd cymaint o amser ag oedd yn bosibl iddo wneud gyda cherddorion eraill ac addysgodd ganu corawl.

3. Formation of Y Cor Mawr, 12th February 1872

In 1872 the Directors of the Crystal Palace Company announced a ‘National Music Meeting’ to take place on 27th June – 6th July, and include music competitions ‘open to the world’

At a meeting on 12th February, 1872 at the Temperance Hall, Aberdare, leading musicians from Carmarthenshire, Glamorgan and Monmouth counties decided to form a choir to compete in the ‘Class I’ category at the competition.

Caradog, then aged 45, was chosen as the choir conductor.  The choir numbered 456 and consisted of members from various choirs across industrialised south Wales, including Llanelli, Neath, Merthyr, Rhondda, Aberdare and Pontypridd.  Aberdare became the choir’s headquarters, as the largest number of singers (150) were from Aberdare, Hirwaun, and Mountain Ash.

The contest took place on 4th July 1872. They sang ‘In tears of grief’, ‘Round about the starry throne’, ‘The night is departing’ and ‘The March of the Men of Harlech’. As Y Cor Mawr were the only entrants in their category, they secured the win. However, this should not diminish their achievements, as newspapers record they were ‘enthusiastically received.’ The choir won the £1,000 prize and returned home as champions.

ACVMS 1997.3948.3 An illustration of the 1000 Guineas Gold Cup won during The Crystal Palace Competition 1872-73.

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Surviving members of Y Cor Mawr at a reunion, 1933. Image reproduced by kind permission from Rhondda Cynon Taf Libraries.

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3. Sefydlu’r Côr Mawr, Chwefror 12fed 1872

Yn 1872 cyhoeddodd Cyfarwyddwyr Cwmni Y Crystal Palace ‘Cyfarfod Cenedlaethol Cerddorol’ ar gyfer Mehefin 27ain hyd at Orffennaf y 6ed, a oedd cynnwys cystadlaethau cerddorol oedd yn agored i’r byd.

Mewn cyfarfod a gynhaliwyd ar Chwefror 12fed, 1872 yn Neuadd Ddirwestol, Aberdâr, penderfynodd cerddorion blaenllaw o Sir Gaerfyrddin, Morgannwg a Threfynwy i ffurfio côr er mwyn cystadlu yng nghategori dosbarth 1af yn y gystadleuaeth.

Dewiswyd Caradog, a oedd yn 45 mlwydd oed ar y pryd, fel yr arweinydd. Ffurfiwyd y côr o 456 o gantorion, ag oedd yn aelodau o amryw o gorau ar draws ardal ddiwydiannol De Cymru, gan gynnwys Llanelli, Castell Nedd, Merthyr a Rhondda. Daeth Aberdâr yn bencadlys y côr, gan mai o Aberdâr, Hirwaun ac Aberpennar y daeth y nifer fwyaf o aelodau’r côr (150 ohonynt).

Cynhaliwyd y gystadleuaeth ar Orffennaf y 4ydd, 1872. Canodd y côr ‘In tears of grief’, ‘Round about the starry throne’, ‘The night is departing’ a ‘Rhyfelgyrch Gwyr Harlech’. Enillodd y Côr Mawr y gystadleuaeth, gan mai nhw oedd yr unig gystadleuwyr yn eu categori. Serch hynny, ni ddylai hynny dynnu oddi ar gyflawniad y côr, cawsant eu clodfori yn y papurau newyddion a chyfeiriodd at y croeso a’r cymeradwyaith gwresog derbyniasant. Derbyniodd y côr wobr o £1000 a dychwelon nhw adref yn bencampwyr.

4. Crystal Palace, 1873

The following year, 1873, a second competition was held at Crystal Palace, with Y Côr Mawr competing against Joseph Proudman’s London Choir.

The prize of the Crystal Palace Challenge Cup was won outright by Y Côr Mawr.  This was undoubtedly one of the most prestigious musical events of the time, and winning the cup twice ensured that Caradog and his choir were cemented in the musical history of Wales.  Thereafter the term “Land of Song” was bestowed upon Wales.

To mark the occasion of the second competition Mr Richard Fothergill, MP, announced that he would strike a commemorative medal, a gold one for Caradog and a silver one for each chorister.

The medals are inscribed on one side ‘presented by ‘Richard Fothergill M.P. in the commemoration of the victory of the South Wales Choral Union at the Crystal Palace July 10th 1873.’ On the other side has been struck with the image of a harp surrounded by a wreath.

A garden party was held at Abernant House, 2nd September 1873, at which the medals were presented to the choir. Some 2,000 ticket holders celebrated on the lawns fronting the house. This area was decorated with flags and banners. The prize trophies were also on display.

ACVMS 1996.203 A programme of music for The South Wales Choral Union performing at Marlborough House, London 1873

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ACVMS1996.206 The front of the commemorative Crystal Palace Competition winner's medal.

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4. Crystal Palace, 1873

Y flwyddyn dilynol, cynhaliwyd ail gystadleuaeth yn y ‘Crystal Palace’, gyda’r Côr Mawr yn cystadlu yn erbyn côr Joseph Proudman o Lundain.

Y tro hwn, enillwyd gwobr Cwpan Sialens y Crystal Palace gan y Côr Mawr. Heb unrhyw amheuaeth, hwn oedd un o’r cystadlaethau cerddorol mwyaf blaenllaw’r cyfnod, a thrwy ennill y wobr ddwywaith roedd enw da Caradog a’i gôr yn gadarn wedi gwreiddio’n hanes cerddorol Cymru. O’r adeg hon ymlaen, adnabuwyd Cymru fel ‘Gwlad y Gân’.

I ddathlu llwyddiant yr ail gystadleuaeth, cyhoeddodd Mr Richard Fothergill M.P ei fwriad i fathu medal coffa, un aur i Caradog a rhai arian i bob un o’r cantorion.

Mae’r geiriau ‘Rhodd gan Richard Fothergill M.P er cof am fuddugoliaeth Côr Unedig De Cymru yn y Crystal Palace Gorffennaf 10fed, 1873’ wedi’u hysgythru ar un ochr. Ar yr ochr arall gwelwyd delwedd o delyn wedi’i hamhgylchynnu gan dorch.

Cynhaliwyd parti yng ngardd Tŷ Abernant ar Fedi’r 2ail 1873, lle cyflwynwyd y medalau i’r côr. Roedd rhyw 2,000 o westeion wedi ymgasglu i ddathlu ar lawnt y tŷ ac fe addurnwyd yr ardal gyda baneri. Roedd tlysau’r cystadleuaeth hefyd i’w gweld yno.

5. National Eisteddfod 1885

The National Eisteddfod of Wales was held in Aberdare in August 1885. A pavilion was erected near the railway station. Prizes were awarded in literature, music, architecture, and industry.

Caradog played an important role, not as a conductor, but as a music adjudicator.

For the brass band competition, Caradog was one of three adjudicators, alongside Mr J. Thomas and Mr Turpin. A first prize of £20 was awarded to the Swansea Resident Band and the £10 second prize to the Mountain Ash Band.

Of the six groups in the Glee competition, a £20 prize was divided between the Aberdare and Rhymney choirs.

Caradog, Turpin and W. Jarrett Roberts adjudicated the violin competition. W. H. Conboy of Brecon won and received a violin valued at 5 guineas.

The Treorchy Orchestral Band were announced the orchestral band competition winners with a 12-guinea prize. The Aberdare Orchestral Society were the runners up, winning 6 guinea.

Finally, Caradog, Mr. Jarrett Roberts and Alaw Ddu awarded first prize to Miss Rachel James of Pontypridd and Mr. David Howells with a prize of 3 guineas in the Soprano and Tenor singing competition.

Caradog’s prominent role as a music adjudicator was evidence of the acknowledgement and respect of his stature as a musician.

ACVMS 2010.97 Royal National Eisteddfod 1885 medal

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ACVMS 1996.616 Eisteddfod poster 1885

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5. Eisteddfod Genedlaethol 1885

Cynhaliwyd yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol yn Aberdâr ym 1885 a chodwyd pafiliwn ger yr orsaf rheilffordd. Bu gwobrau am lenyddiaeth, cerddoriaeth, pensaernïaeth a diwydiant. Chwaraeodd Caradog rôl allweddol, nid yn unig fel arweinydd ond fel beirniad hefyd.

Roedd Caradog  yn feirniad ar gyfer y gystadleuaeth band pres, ochr yn ochr â Mr J Thomas a Mr Turpin. Rhoddwyd y safle gyntaf a gwobr o £20 i Fand Trigolion Abertawe, a rhoddwyd yr ail wobr o £10 i fand o Aberpennar.

Roedd chwe grŵp yn y gystadleuaeth Glee, a rhannwyd y wobr o £20 rhwng gorau Aberdâr a Rhymni.

Roedd Caradog  yn feirniad ar gyfer y gystadleuaeth ffidil, ochr yn ochr â Turpin a W. Jarrett Roberts. Enillodd W.H. Conboy, Aberhonddu y wobr gyntaf a derbyniodd ffidil gwerth 5 guineas fel gwobr.

Enwyd Band Cerddorfaol Treorci fel enillwyr y gystadleuaeth band cerddorfaol gyda gwobr o 12 guinea. Cymdeithas gerddorfaol Aberdâr cafodd yr ail wobr o 6 gini.

Yn olaf, penderfynodd Caradog, Mr Jarrett Roberts ac Alaw Ddu i wobrwyo Miss Rachel James o Bontypridd a Mr David Howells gyda gwobr o 3 gini yn y gystadleuaeth Soprano a Thenor.

Roedd rôl blaenllaw Caradog fel beiriand cerddorol yn dystiolaeth ac yn gydnabyddiaeth i’w barch a’i statws fel cerddor.

6. Caradog in America 1893

In August 1893, Caradog, accompanied by his wife, paid a visit to America as special guests at the Great World’s Fair Eisteddfod, Chicago. This international eisteddfod celebration took place in the World’s Columbian Exposition building.

The Western Mail reported the outstanding response to Caradog’s presence. Once entering the Eisteddfod Hall all proceeds came to a halt: “Then it was Caradog, Caradog for nearly two minutes. Everybody tried to outshout his neighbour.  Not a Welshman living but has heard of “Caradog”

It was reported that the audience sang along to the national hymn ‘Hen Wlad fy Nhadau.’ Caradog was so overwhelmed with emotion, telling his choir that it was the proudest moment of his life.

The Rhondda Glee society, led by Caradog’s protegee, Tom Stephens, were victorious in the Male Voice Competition.

Caradog was very gratified at the outcome and expressed his feelings in a letter to Mr Stephens. “My very dear friend, it is with feelings of the most intense joy and pride that I congratulate you … Caradog is growing old, but he feels that his mantle is falling on worthy shoulders, and so long as Tom Stephens lives, Wales will never be without a leader to lead her musical hosts to victory.”

Caradog was honoured with a celebratory supper on his return where he was presented with gifts in honour of his achievements.

Illustration: 'View of Chicago Exhibition (World's Fair) Aberystwyth Observer, page 6, 04/05/1893

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6. Caradog yn America 1893

Yn Awst 1893, aeth Caradog a’i wraig i Unol Daleithiau America fel gwesteion arbennig yn Eisteddfod Sioe’r Byd yn Chicago. Cynhaliwyd yr Eisteddfod rhyngwladol yma yn adeilad World Columbian Exposition.

Adroddodd y Western Mail am yr ymateb arbennig i bresenoldeb Caradog. Pan gerddodd mewn i neuadd yr Eisteddfod, stopiodd pob dim ac yn dilyn ei ymddangosiad clywyd pawb yn ymadrodd ei enw, “Caradog, Caradog” am oddeutu dwy funud gyda phawb yn ceisio codi llais yn uwch na’u cyfeillion. Does dim un Cymry sy’n fyw heb glywed am “Caradog”.

Adroddwyd bod y gynulleidfa wedi cydganu ‘Hen Wlad fy Nhadau’. Cafodd Caradog ei orlethu gydag emosiwn a datganodd i’w gôr mai dyna oedd yr eiliad mwyaf bythgofiadwy ei fywyd.

Daeth Cymdeithas Glee Y Rhondda, wedi’u arwain gan ddisgynydd Caradog, Tom Stephens, yn fuddugol yn y gystadleuaeth corawl i ddynion.

Roedd Caradog yn falch iawn o’r canlyniad a mynegodd ei deimladau mewn llythyr i Mr Stephens. “Fy ffrind annwyl, rwyf yn llawn hapusrwydd a balchder i dy longyfarch di… Y mae Caradog yn heneiddio, ond yn teimlo bod ei fantell yn syrthio ar ysgwyddau haeddiannol, a chyhyd ag yr oedd Tom Stephens yn fyw, ni fydd Cymru’n gweld eisiau arweinydd i dywys ei phobl i fuddugoliaeth cerddorol.”

Pan ddychwelodd Caradog, cydnabyddwyd ef gyda swper i ddathlu lle derbyniodd rhoddion er cof am ei lwyddiannau.

7. End of Life 1897

After his great successes, Caradog continued to conduct choirs and bands in the Rhondda, Llanybydder, Cardiff and Pontypridd. However, by 1896 he was suffering from heart disease and dropsy. He eventually died on 4th December, 1897 aged 63.

Caradog’s funeral took place on December 9th, 1897. Mourners lined the streets of Aberdare to pay tribute to the famous conductor. All businesses closed early in his honour and a special train ran fifteen minutes before the normal train for attendees of the funeral. The main service was held at St Catherine’s Church, Pontypridd. When they reached Aberdare, the town was filled with the sound of Welsh hymn singing.

Caradog was laid to rest at Aberdare Cemetery, Trecynon in a coffin made of oak with brass furniture.  He is buried there along with his wife and son. The inscription on the vault is the same as that on the hymn sheet used at the funeral. This inscription reads ‘Cambria mourns her noble leader’.

Many of his choir members in attendance wore their Crystal Palace competition medals. These medals had become a symbol of national pride and respect.  Immediately after the funeral, members of Y Cor Mawr held a meeting in the Temperance Hall.

ACVMS 2009.176 Memorial card of Griffith Rhys Jones 'Caradog' aged 63.

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ACVMS 1996.198.1 Invitation to 'Cor Mawr' to the funeral of Caradog.

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7. Diwedd ei fywyd, 1897

Yn dilyn ei fuddugoliaethau enfawr, parhaodd Caradog i arwain corau a bandiau yn Y Rhondda, Llanybydder, Caerdydd a Phontypridd. Serch hynny, erbyn 1896 roedd yn dioddef o glefyd y galon yn ogystal â dropsi. Bu farw ar Ragfyr 4ydd, 1897 yn 63 mlwydd oed.

Cynhaliwyd yr angladd ar Ragfyr 9fed, 1897. Safodd galarwyr ar hyd strydoedd Aberdâr i dalu teyrnged i’r arweinydd enwog. Caeodd drysau busnesau’n gynnar er parch iddo ac fe drefnwyd trên arbennig 15 munud yn gynnar i gludo pobl i’r angladd. Cynhaliwyd y prif wasanaeth yn Eglwys Santes Catherine, Pontypridd. Wrth gyrraedd Aberdâr, roedd y dref yn llawn sŵn canu emynau Cymreig.

Gosodwyd Caradog i orffwys ym Mynwent Aberdâr, Trecynon mewn arch a chafodd ei chreu o dderw gydag addurniadau pres. Claddwyd yno gyda’i wraig a’i fab. Yr un oedd y geiriau a ysgythrwyd ar ei gofeb a’r daflen emynau yn ei anglad; ‘Mae Cambria’n galaru ei harweinydd bonheddig’

Gwisgodd llawer o aelodau’r corau a oedd yn bresennol eu medalau cystadleuaeth y Crystal Palace. Daeth y medalau yn symbolau o falchder a pharch Cenedlaethol, ac yn syth wedi’r angladd cynhaliwyd cyfarfod aelodau’r Côr Mawr yn Neuadd Ddirwestol, Aberdâr.

8. Statue in Aberdare Town, 1920

Following his funeral, a meeting of choir members and interested parties took place in January 1898. It was decided that a statue erected in Aberdare was “the most durable form of memorial” to commemorate Caradog. It would be funded by public subscriptions of One Shilling per person.

It was not until 1919 that Sir William Goscombe John, the Welsh “National Sculptor of Wales”, was commissioned to produce the statue. Goscombe John was a world famous and prolific sculptor. He created over 50 major works between 1890 -1940, most in the newly revived classical style.

The 7ft statue was cast in bronze by A.B.Burton Ltd of London and set on a tall stone plinth. It depicted Caradog, around age 40, conducting his choir. The cost was £1,500 as a result of 30,000 public subscribers.

The unveiling ceremony took place on Saturday 10th July 1920 at Victoria Square, Aberdare. Despite the poor weather, it was very well attended. The statue was unveiled by Lord Aberdare. The “overflowing” Palladium Cinema, Canon Street, was then the scene of more speeches and singing. Special ‘survivor’ tickets to attend the post-ceremony grand tea were given to the members of the Cor Mawr who competed at Crystal Palace.

In April 1962 the statue was reset on a modern platform with a sunken forecourt as part of the Civic Trust improvement scheme for Victoria Square.

Image of statue unveiling, 1920. Image reproduced by kind permission from Rhondda Cynon Taf Libraries.

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ACVMS 1996.205 An invitation letter to the unveiling of Caradog statue in Victoria Square, Aberdare on 10th July 1920.

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8. Cerflun yn nhref Aberdâr, 1920

Yn dilyn ei angladd, cynhaliwyd cyfarfod o aelodau’r côr a phobl oedd â diddordeb ym mis Ionawr 1898. Penderfynwyd mai codi cerflun yn Aberdâr oedd “y gofeb fwyaf parhaol” i goffau Caradog, i’w hariannu gan danysgrifiadau cyhoeddus o 1 swllt y person.

Ym 1919, comisiynwyd Sir William Goscombe John, ‘Cerflunydd Cenedlaethol Cymru’ i greu’r cerflun. Roedd Goscombe John yn gerflunydd byd enwog a gweithgar dros ben. Creodd dros 50 o weithiau rhwng 1890-1940, gan amlaf yn y dull glasurol adfywiedig.

Cafodd y cerflun 7 troedfedd ei gastio o efydd gan A.B Burton Ltd, Llundain a’i osod ar blinth carreg. Roedd yn portreadu Caradog yn 40 mlwydd oed, yn arwain ei gôr. Y gost oedd £1,500 ac yn dyst i 30,000 tanysgrifiadau cyhoeddus.

Dadorchuddiwyd y cerflun ar ddydd Sadwrn 10fed o Orffennaf 1920 yn Sgwâr Fictoria gan Arglwydd Aberdâr. Er gwaethaf y tywydd garw, mynychodd llawer o bobl. Roedd sinema’r Paladiwm, Heol Canon yn orlawn ac yn lleoliad i ganu ac areithiau lu. Rhoddwyd tocynnau ‘goroeswyr’ arbennig i aelodau’r côr a gystadlodd yn y Crystal Palace a oedd yn eu caniatáu i fynychu tê crand yn dilyn y seremoni.

Ym mis Ebrill 1962, codwyd y cerflun am yr eil dro ar ben plinth carreg newydd o fewn cwrt suddedig fel rhan o gynllun yr ymddiriedolaeth ddinesig i wella ardal Sgwâr Fictoria.

9. 100th Anniversary of Crystal Palace, 1972

The Cor Mawr Caradog Centenary Festival was celebrated in Aberdare 2nd – 8th October, 1972. Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” was sung by local Adult Choristers, the BBC Welsh Orchestra and Meredith Davies at an orchestral concert in Siloa Chapel.

Invitations were sent to all schools, operatic and choral societies, bands and churches in the Cynon Valley. Brass bands played and were conducted by Major H. A. Kenney (formerly of the Welsh Guards). An evening concert was shared between Cwmaman, Aberaman and Trecynon societies to perform Gilbert and Sullivan, light opera and comedy with guest artists.

The Exhibition included a series of events showcasing Caradog’s works throughout the week. These included an adult mixed choral concert, an orchestral concert and a male voice choir’s concert. The finale on the Sunday was a singing festival “Cymanfa Ganu”.

A volunteer of the museum, Derek, recalls attending the event:

I recall attending a concert of United Male Voice Choirs at the Grand Theatre Aberaman. I went along with my grandmother and sat in awe listening to the 200 strong choir. But my biggest memory, which had a big influence on my love of music and singing in future years, was being spellbound by the beautiful bass baritone voice of the guest artist Frank Olegario. The first time I’d witnessed a standing ovation and a theatre ringing with rapturous applause.

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ACVMS 2013.233.8 Brochure for 'Cor Mawr Caradog Centenary Festival Aberdare October 2nd-8th 1972. Detailing the special events as part of the local celebration.

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9. Dathliad Canmlwyddiant Crystal Palace, 1972

Dathlwyd gŵyl canmlwyddiant Côr Mawr Caradog yn Aberdâr rhwng 2ail-8fed o Hydref 1972. Perfformiwyd ‘Elijah’ Mendelssohn gan gantorion lleol, Cerddorfa Genedlaethol BBC a Meredith Davies mewn cyngerdd yng Nghapel Siloa.

Gwahoddwyd ysgolion lleol, cymdeithasau operatig a chorawl, bandiau ac eglwysi Cwm Cynon. Chwaraeodd bandiau pres dan arweinyddiaeth Major H.A Kenney (Gatrawd Cymry gynt). Rhannwyd cyngerdd gyda’r nos rhwng cymdeithasau Cwmaman, Aberaman a Threcynon lle perfformiodd Gilbert a Sullivan, opera ysgafn a chomedi gydag artistiaid gwadd.

Roedd yr Arddangosfa yn cynnwys cyfres o ddigwyddiadau’n dathlu gwaith Caradog trwy gydol yr wythnos. Roedd y rhain yn cynnwys cyngerdd corawl cymysg, cyngerdd cerddorfaol a chyngerdd côr meibion. Y diweddglo ar y nos Sul oedd Gymanfa Ganu.

Mae un o wirfoddolwyr yr amgueddfa’n cofio mynychu’r digwyddiad:

“Rwy’n cofio mynychu cyngerdd y Côr Meibion Unedig yn Theatr y Grand, Aberaman. Es i yno gyda fy mam-gu ac fe eisteddon ni gan wrando mewn syfrdandod i’r côr 200 o leisiau. Fy atgof mwyaf serch hynny, a chafodd y dylanwad mwyaf arnaf a’m hangerdd ar gyfer canu a cherddoriaeth, oedd cael fy swyno gan lais fas bariton bendigedig yr artist gwadd Frank Olegario. Dyna’r tro cyntaf i mi fod yn dyst i glywed cymeradwyaeth brwdfrydig yn atseinio trwy theatr.”

10. Legacy

Caradog’s legacy can still be felt and as such Wales is still regarded as “The Land of Song”. Griffith Rhys Jones came from humble beginnings in Trecynon, worked as a Blacksmith in Llwydcoed and became a world-famous conductor. Throughout his life he showcased the Welsh people as a proud and passionate, and belonging to a land rich in culture, art and music.

At Cynon Valley Museum, the music display case in the permanent exhibition showcases many artefacts that commemorate Caradog. Some of these include the Cor Mawr 1873 medal, hymn sheets from Caradog’s funeral, musical scores of Handel once owned by Caradog, and music records that play Cor Mawr Caradog ‘Cymanfa Ganu’. By sharing these objects with the public, Caradog’s story and legacy, which is such an important facet of the history and culture of the Cynon Valley, can continue.

Caradog's burial site, 2022. Photography by Wendy Donovan.

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ACVMS 1997.3948.1 Pamphlet for a Caradog Memorial Meeting, held in Trecynon, 1933.

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'Land of Song' Memorial, Victoria Square, 2022. Photography by Wendy Donovan.

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10. Etifeddiaeth

Mae etifeddiaeth Caradog i’w deimlo yng Nghymru hyd heddiw megis ein hadnabyddiaeth  fel ‘Gwlad y Gân’. Daeth Griffith Rhys Jones o wreiddiau diymhongar yn Nhrecynon, gweithiodd fel gof yn Llwydcoed a daeth i fod yn arweinydd enwog ledled y byd. Ar hyd ei oes, argyhoeddodd y Cymry fel cenedl falch ac angerddol, gyda thraddodiad cyfoethog diwylliannol o gelf a cherddoriaeth.

Yn Amgueddfa Cwm Cynon, mae modd gweld y cas arddangos cerddorol lle ceir llawer o arteffactau sy’n coffau Caradog. Mae’r rhain yn cynnwys medal Y Côr Mawr 1873, taflenni emynau o’r angladd, sgorau cerddorol Handel yr oedd yn berchen i Caradog, a recordiau cerddoriaeth sy’n chwarae Gymanfa Ganu’r Côr Mawr. Mae stori ac etifeddiaeth Caradog yn rhan annatod o hanes a diwylliant Cwm Cynon, a thrwy rannu’r gwrthrychau hyn gyda’r cyhoedd mae modd i’r stori barhau.

2013.505.1 Programme 'Caradog Commemorative Concert By The Ebenezer Choral Society' 11th December 1997.

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ACVMS 1996.366 Silk Squares commemorating the South Wales Choral Union at Crystal Palace 1873

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Image of bust of Caradog. On display at National Museum, Cardiff. Photography by Hywel George.

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The Caradog Statue in Victoria Square. Photography by Wendy Donovan, 2022.

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The Caradog Statue in Victoria Square. Photography by Wendy Donovan, 2022.

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References

CVMT would also like to thank the individuals and services that have supported the research:

• Hywel George

• Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council Heritage Service

• Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council Library Service and Digital Archive

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