Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Richards, Henry Brinley

RICHARDS, HENRY BRINLEY (1819–1885), pianist and composer, son of Henry Richards, organist of St. Peter's, Carmarthen, was born at Carmarthen on 13 Nov. 1819. At the age of fifteen he entered the Royal Academy of Music, where he was in 1835 the first to gain the king's scholarship, to which he was re-elected for a second period of two years. He soon gained a high position as a pianist in London, and as a teacher had a very large connection. He became a director of the Royal Academy of Music, and a professor there and elsewhere. His musical sympathies were mainly on the side of Welsh music, upon which he lectured frequently all over the country. He took a practical interest in the Eisteddfod gatherings, and also in the South Wales Choral Union on its successful visits to the Crystal Palace in 1872 and 1873. He wrote a very large number of piano pieces, part songs, songs, and choruses, many of which have had a wide circulation. Several of his orchestral works were performed in Paris, where Richards attracted the notice of, and formed an intimacy with, Chopin. His ‘Overture in F minor’ (Paris, 1840) obtained a deserved success, but Richards will be remembered chiefly for his ‘Let the hills resound,’ ‘Harp of Wales,’ and ‘God bless the Prince of Wales’ (first printed in 1862), which has become a national anthem in the strictest sense. The composer was presented to the prince with due ceremony on St. David's day, 1867. He composed some additional songs for the English version of Auber's ‘Crown Diamonds’ when produced at Drury Lane in 1846, and edited ‘The Lays of Wales,’ London, 1873. Over 250 of his pieces and settings are enumerated in the ‘Music Catalogue’ of the British Museum. He died at St. Mary Abbot's Terrace, Kensington, on 1 May 1885.

[Musical Times, June 1885; Times, 5 May 1885; Men of the Time, 11th ed.; Champlin's Cycl. of Music (with portrait); London Figaro, 9 May 1885; Grove's Dict. of Music and Musicians.]

J. C. H.