The Beginnings of the National Eisteddfod

Swansea, 1863: the rise of Welsh choral singing

History of the Welsh Eisteddfodau

In 1863, too, you see for the first time a medal being won for choral singing. In that eisteddfod two choirs came face to face - the Cymdeithas Cwm Tawe choir, conducted by Evander Griffiths, and the Aberdare Choral Society under Silas Evans: the first great contest. And there, witnessing it all, was H.F. Chorley, the music correspondent of the Athenaeum, and when Chorley said he'd been dazzled by the standard of the choral singing - because the members of the two choirs he heard in 1863 were mostly miners and their families - and that he couldn't think of more than six choral societies in England who could compete with them, well of course the cup of the Welsh was overflowing. And from that time on you see the National Eisteddfod putting all its eggs in the same basket, with the choirs and soloists. It was they who brought the Welsh renown.