Former home of composer Dilys Elwyn Edwards, Caernarfon

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Link to Welsh translationFormer home of composer Dilys Elwyn Edwards, Caernarfon

This dormer bungalow was once the home of Dilys Elwyn Edwards. She lived for most of her life in Caernarfon, where she produced a many fine vocal compositions.

She was born Dilys Roberts in Dolgellau in August 1918. Her father was a singer, choral conductor and euphonium player. After attending Dr Williams’ School in Dolgellau, she was offered a scholarship at Girton College in Cambridge and a Joseph Parry Scholarship at the University College in Cardiff. She opted for Cardiff, where she studied under David Evans. The BBC broadcast some of her early songs.

After graduating, she taught at Dr Williams’ School for three years before winning a composition scholarship at the Royal College of Music in London. There she studied with English composer Herbert Howells.

She married Elwyn Edwards in 1947. The couple lived in Oxford before moving to Wales when he became minister of Castle Square Presbyterian Church in Caernarfon in 1951.

From 1973 Dilys was a piano tutor at the Normal College and the University College in Bangor. She often took part in radio and television broadcasts and adjudicated at eisteddfodau.

Her published works included Caneuon Gwynedd and Caneuon y Tri Aderyn (which translates as “Songs of the Three Birds”). The songs were settings of works by some of the greatest Welsh poets of her century, including R Williams Parry, Dic Jones, T Gwynn Jones, Gwyn Thomas and Saunders Lewis.

Among the songs was Mae Hiraeth yn y Môr, which became her best-known work. Use the YouTube link below to hear it sung by Kenneth Bowen, to whom Dilys dedicated the song. Follow the link below to download or buy the album from Sain.

Dilys died in January 2012 in a Llanberis nursing home. The centenary of her birth was marked by a grand concert at Pontio, Bangor. Poet Ifor ap Glyn was commissioned to write a sonnet to commemorate her.

With thanks to Rhiannon James, of Caernarfon Civic Society. Sources include the Dictionary of Welsh Biography, National Library of Wales

Postcode: LL55 1BH    View Location Map

Sain website – download the Kenneth Bowen album or buy it on CD