James James

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"Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau", recorded in 1899 – the first known recording in Welsh[1]
A memorial in Ynysangharad Park (Pontypridd, south Wales) to Evan James and James James, composers of the Welsh national anthem

James James (also known by the bardic name Iago ap Ieuan) (1833–1902) was a harpist and musician from Pontypridd, Wales. He composed the tune of the Welsh national anthem Hen Wlad fy Nhadau (also known as Land of my Fathers).

Life[edit]

He was born on 4 November 1832, at the 'Ancient Druid' inn, Argoed[disambiguation needed], in the parish of Bedwellty, Monmouthshire. He was the son of Evan James (1809-1878) and Ehzabeth Stradling of Caerphilly. His father, a Welsh versifier under the pen-name of leuan ab lago, moved with his family about 1844 to Pontypridd, where he carried on the business of weaver and wool merchant. His son James assisted him in the business.[2]

James James composed the melody which was later known as Hen Wlad fy Nhadau in January 1856. At first it was known as Glan Rhondda (The banks of the Rhondda), and gave rise to the tradition that the tune had come to him as he walked on the bank of the River Rhondda. His father, Evan James, wrote the lyrics that eventually became the words of the Welsh national anthem.

A memorial to James James and his father, in the shape of two figures representing the muses of Poetry and Music, stands in Ynysangharad Park, Pontypridd. James James died in Aberdare in the Cynon Valley 11 January 1902,[2] he is buried in the local cemetery at Aberdare in the same grave as his wife Cecilia and daughter Louisa.

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