Monday, 14 March 2016

New Harp Duet: Grand Duet - John Thomas

Grand Duet
John Thomas 
Pencerdd Gwalia (1826-1913)

Both the Grand Duet (1865) and the Souvenir du Nord of 1854 (Adlais 164) are dedicated to a Welsh-born patroness. “Mrs. Lucy of Charlecote Park” was born Mary Elizabeth Williams at Bodelwyddan Castle, St. Asaph, and both she and her sister “Miggy” (later to become Lady Willoughby de Broke) were talented harpists.

In her book Mistress of Charlecote: The Memoirs of Mary Elizabeth Lucy, Alice Lady Fairfax-Lucy quotes a very amusing account of the Abergavenny Eisteddfod of 1853 which led to Mrs Lucy's first meeting with John Thomas at Llanover, and to her subsequent lessons with him at her home. “Mr. Thomas kept me to scales and exercises for the first year, and I did learn his way, and before I was very much older, I was able to play many a difficult duet with him. I would get up an hour earlier to have a good practice before breakfast, and I would go to sleep trying to hold my thumb up.” As her harp teacher, “Mr. Thomas” became a frequent guest and partner in duets on their Erard harps. As an enthusiastic patroness, Mrs Lucy attended his concerts over a period of some 35 years.

John Thomas composed duos, both for two harps and for harp and piano, throughout his life. For the most part, these compositions were operatic fantasias and duos based on familiar Welsh folk melodies. The Grand Duet is an exception, as whereas the others are concert arrangements, this one duet is an original composition.
Ann Griffiths, 2016

Published by Adlais Music Publishers
Printed & distributed by Creighton's Collection
Published Retail Price - £14.00 (set of parts)
Further information available at

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