The Celtic Revival

Barlow, Helen (2022). The Celtic Revival. In: Herbert, Trevor; Clarke, Martin V. and Barlow, Helen eds. A History of Welsh Music. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 171–194.



The eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries saw a revival of interest in Welsh language and culture, and the chapter addresses this as it was reflected in music. The period saw flourishing activity from scholars and musicians in collecting, publishing and performing Welsh ‘traditional’ music, supported by newly formed Welsh and London-Welsh cultural societies. A number of important publications sought to capture Welsh music and present it to a wider public - particularly a fashionable London public - notably, Blind Parry’s Antient British Music (1742) and Edward Jones’s Musical and Poetical Relicks of the Welsh Bards (1784); while a more direct reflection of the Welsh oral tradition is found in the work of collectors such as Iolo Morganwg, John Jenkins ‘Ifor Ceri’ and Maria Jane Williams. Amidst this activity, two apparently contradictory but in fact related ideas were being pursued, sometimes simultaneously: an idea of the place of music in the deep antiquity of Welsh culture, and an idea of music as an expression of Welsh identity in modern Britain.

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