Richards, John (‘Isalaw’)
b Bangor, Gwynedd (Caernarvonshire) 1843, d Bangor 1901. Son of a sea captain, he was educated mainly in Birmingham and made music his career. As well as several hymn tunes, he composed anthems, part songs and glees. A keen advocate of the Tonic Sol-Fa method of singing, he was much in demand as an accurate music copyist of major works both from and into Sol-Fa, for musicians and choirs respectively. He contributed to several music journals. When struck by an idea in the middle of the night, he allegedly wrote with soap on his bathroom mirror in order not to lose a musical idea. He died before completing a work called The Task is Ended, commissioned by the Liverpool Philharmonic Choir for Easter 1902. Alan Luff, who describes him ‘a minor composer’, calls SANCTUS ‘his great tune’, whether sung to English words or Welsh ones. Nos.538, 738.