David Lloyd 1912 – 1969
David Lloyd was born in Trelogan, Flintshire, and left school at 14 to become a carpenter’s apprentice. He sang in local eisteddfodau, and one of the adjudicators, John Williams from Bangor urged him to pursue a singing career. With great local support, he won a Scholarship to the Guildhall in 1933, and emerged in 1938 as the best student in his year. He soon made his mark in opera at Glynderbourne and Sadler’s Wells, at Musical Festivals in Denmark and Belgium, and even deputised for Jussi Björling in Sweden.
News of the dashing young Welsh tenor travelled fast, and he received invitations to sing at the New York Met and La Scala, Milan. But just as his career was to take off, the war broke and David Lloyd enroled with the Welsh Guards in August 1940. The war dealt the young singer two major blows – it stopped his international operatic career, and prevented him from recording songs in his native Welsh language, as any language but English was deemed a security threat! But if his operatic career was cut short, he became the darling of the concert stage, especially in his native Wales, and his recording career flourished in English between March 1940 and March 1947.
No-one can be sure whether all the recordings made by David Lloyd have survived, as many were not commercially released due to a shortage of materials, and some of these tracks were actually taken from test pressings, and not from commercial releases. This collection begins with the earliest surviving track, the recording of “The Faerie Song” made at London’s BBC studios on the 31st of March, 1940, with David singing to the accompaniment of Sidone Goosens’ harp. Many of the ensuing recordings were made at the famed EMI studios at Abbey Road, and others were recorded at venues such as London’s Kingsway Hall. The accompaniment varies, but the most prominent accompanist is pianist Gerald Moore, and the orchestras include those of Sadler’s Wells, the City of Birmingham and Robert Farnon, as well as the Band of the Welsh Guards.
The first two surviving tracks recorded in the Welsh language were recorded by the BBC in Cardiff for a radio programme in 1947, and then follows the session at Decca Studios in London in October 1948 which ensured his everlasting popularity with Welsh audiences everywhere. To the accompaniment of composer Meirion Williams, David Lloyd recorded songs such as Sul y blodau, Elen fwyn and hymns such as Lausanne. Just as his own career was tinged with tragedy, these songs all have a strong emotional content, so much so that one critic described David Lloyd as “the singer with a tear in his voice”.
But the real tragedy was yet to come. In June 1954, while recording a programme for the BBC near Rhyl, ironically not far from his own birthplace, David Lloyd had a serious fall which broke his back. There followed a long period of convalescence, and his singing prowess never fully recovered. However, this collection includes the seven best tracks he recorded after his recovery, two made by the BBC in 1960 to the accompaniment of the BBC Welsh Orchestra, two made by Qualiton in the same year to the accompaniment of J.Morgan Nicholas, and three made for Delysé in 1962, with Cyril Anthony at the organ.
David Lloyd died in 1969, aged 57, but he is still held in high esteem in Wales as one of those singers who touched, through his singing, the very soul of the nation.
Dafydd Iwan, November 2008.