Remembering Ann Griffiths (1934–2020)

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The Welsh harpist Ann Griffiths died peacefully at her home in Raglan, South Wales on July 24th, 2020. Born in Caerphilly in 1934, she graduated with a Welsh degree from Cardiff University before obtaining her Premier Prix in 1958 from the Paris Conservatoire under Pierre Jamet. A respected teacher, harp historian, composer, and writer, Ann dedicated her life to the promotion and the understanding of the harp, its history and its music. Her legacy is many–fold.

Ann started her professional career as principal harpist with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 1959, and in the same year made her concerto debut at the Royal Festival Hall playing the Handel Harp Concerto. An international solo career ensued, and in 1970, she released a solo album of classic harp repertoire entitled Virtuoso Harp. She was a keen exponent of works by romantic harpist–composers, and
championed the compositions of Parish Alvars, Bochsa, Dussek, and Krumpholtz in her recitals, whilst also researching the life and works of two celebrated Welsh harpists, John Parry and John Thomas. Her scholarly publications include articles in The Musical Times as well as in American, German, Japanese and British Harp
Journals, and she was responsible for 46 entries in the New Grove Music Dictionaries, including a major article on Sebastian Érard.

Her compositions for harp include a teaching method, Saith Gwers i Ddechreuwyr (Seven Lessons for Beginners), followed by several arrangements of Welsh folk songs and other solo works. She founded a harp school, Ysgol y Delyn, at her home in Pantybeiliau, Gwent in 1961, and every year harp students would attend summer school there to receive conservatory–style teaching from visiting teachers from Europe. She was also head of the harp department at the Welsh College of Music and Drama, retiring from the post in 1979. Seeing a need to share with her students some unpublished music by some of her favorite composers, she and her husband, Dr. Lloyd Davies, founded a company called Adlais Music Publishers. Her
love of rewriting difficult chromatic sections earned her the nickname, “Enharmonic Annie!”

More recently, it was her research that took her attention, and in particular her work on Handel and his association with the triple harp. Even with failing eyesight, her commitment and enthusiasm was unwavering. She served as Chairman of the Lady Llanover Society and as a member of the Board of Directors of the World Harp Congress. She will be remembered with love, affection, and respect by past students and harpists across the world. Lloyd and Ann had two sons, Guto and Ifan, and three granddaughters, Manon, Megan and Jessica.

Caryl Thomas

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