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Multi million pound investment at home of famous Welsh band

The home of one of the world's most famous brass bands is hoping to attract a £50 million investment to open its gates to 400,000 visitors a year.

Cyfarthfa
  The band pictured around 1850 on the steps of Cyfarthfa Castle in Merthyr Tydfil

Cyfarthfa Castle, home to one of the most famous brass bands in history, is hoping to attract funding of £50 million to turn it into one of the most visited historical attractions in Wales.

Built around 1824 in the town of Merthyr Tydfil at a cost of approximately £30,000 (£3.5 million at 2020 prices), it was the family home of Robert Thompson Crawshay, the infamous Ironmaster who was to become one of the richest, as well as most notorious brass band patrons in history.

Gold buttons

The Cyfarthfa Band was established around 1838, with Crawshay funding both the purchase of instruments (many from Vienna) and uniforms (with 18 carat gold tunic buttons), as well as players, such as the celebrated ophicleidist Samuel Hughes.

The band played music arranged by its bandmaster George Livesey from the pens of composers such as Rossini, Jullien and Meyerbeer — some less than a month after their operas had been premiered in Europe.

Crystal Palace winner

In 1860, it took part in Enderby Jackson's pioneering competitions at Crystal Palace, winning the Sydenham contest playing a set of quadrilles by Jackson as well as their 'own-choice' of an arrangement of Verdi's 'Nabucco' overture.

The band is also believed to have performed what is regarded as one of the first original works written for the brass band medium — Joseph Parry's 'Tydfil Overture'.

The Cyfarthfa Band survived Crawshay's death in 1879 (such was his acknowledged infamy that the epitaph on the iron slab over his grave enigmatically reads 'God Forgive Me') and the end of the iron making, finally ceasing to exist just before the outbreak of the First World War.

The band is also believed to have performed what is regarded as one of the first original works written for the brass band medium — Joseph Parry's 'Tydfil Overture'4BR

Saved

Many of the original instruments as well as music folios were rescued from destruction by Professor Trevor Herbert after being stored for many years in the loft of the house.

Alongside trumpet player John Wallace much of the music has now been performed by the Wallace Collection.

In 1977 Tredegar Band performed as the Cyfarthfa Band in the acclaimed BBC Wales television series 'Off to Philadelphia in the Morning' playing on some of the instruments and wearing replica uniforms, as they marched past the steps of the mansion entrance.

It is hoped that the £50 million investment will enable up to 400,000 visitors a year to come and enjoy the castellated mansion and its attractions — including its collection surrounding the Cyfarthfa Band which is on display.

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