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Tom Morgans (b. 1874) - Solo Cornet, Llanelly Town Band

Mr. Tom Morgans, whose reputation throughout Wales as solo cornet of the Llanelly Town Band is one to be envied, was born on November 14th, 1874. Coming of a musical family, almost every member of which is a instrumentalist, and his father being a cornetist and a bandsman, it is not to be wondered at that he very early showed a bent for music. When he first started can hardly be stated, for he seems to have grown in for at eight years of age he had made considerable progress and often appeared a local entertainments in easy song solos such as "Jenny Jones," "Last Rose of Summer,' &c. At 9 years of age he joined the local Volunteer Band (of which his father was a member) as 3rd cornet and soon he was promoted to 2nd cornet. His progress was phenomenal, in a very short time he had swept all before him and became solo cornet, being entrusted with the solo work in "I Lombardi" "Favorita," "Round the World," and similar first-class music.

His executive ability was marvellous in one so young, which will be readily understood when we state that at the age of 13 years, a small lad in knickerbockers and Eton collar, he simply electrified the audience at a grand ballad concert in the Parish Hall, contributing "My Pretty Jane" and "Rule Britannia." His performance was received with tremendous enthusiasm, and his fame at once became more than local. He received several engagements in various parts of South Wales as concert soloist, and his repertoire consisting of the magnificent solos of Levy, Hartmann, Round &c., he never failed to create a sensation. His pluck and nerve were immense, and when only fourteen years of age he accepted an engagement to play at a performance of the "Messiah." The difficult trumpet obligato of "The Trumpet Shall Sound" he rendered upon an A-Natural cornet in such a manner as to astonish the London artistes present, who highly complimented him on his exceptional ability.

As a mark of the esteem in which he was held, the gentry of Llanelly in 1829 presented him with a beautiful silver-plated Echo Cornet value 16 guineas. Through the medium of London artistes who had heard him as a concert soloist, he was twice offered permanent appointments in the Metropolis; but on account of his youth they were wisely declined. But although a marvelous executant he is by no means one of those whose sole ability consists in the production of musical fireworks. He had the good fortune to early attract the attention of a local gentleman who is a most artistic cornettist of great experience - G. F. Blake, Esq., and so successfully did he imbibe from this gentleman proper appreciation of that which is the truly beautiful in music, that to hear his treatment of the simplest theme is a treat.

Towards the close of 1890 he joined the Town Band as Solo Cornet and thus gained the dual advantage of benefitting both by the tuition of Mr Samuel and by gaining experience in wider circles. He has, in this capacity, been brought into contact on the contest stage with the best talent of the day, and has never yet suffered by comparison. Of his playing at Belle Vue, 1892, J. Englefield, Esq., RM., 1st Life Guards, speaks thus: "Cornet very nice style. Cornet played solo with great taste. Cornet cadenza very good," &c. In the same year he won, out of 14 competitors the S.W. Association Medal at the Merthyr contest, and at Neath on Easter Monday last the eminent contest judge, Mr. R. Stead, thus wrote of him "This graceful movement was exquisitely played by the cornet soloist; playing with refinement and style that was charming.”

Mr Tom Morgan is also a theoretical musician of some ability. Musical study has been to him a pleasure and not a task; and to such good purpose has he worked that before 18 years of age he had passed several Trinity College examinations; and Mr T.A. Haigh had published a march of his, “The Hero of the South," and invited various other productions which are now on the eve of publication. Of his march "Triumphant," Mr. Haigh wrote: "A good heavy march, admirably suited for contesting." He has also devoted a little time to band teaching, and there is not the slightest doubt but that by-and-bye he is destined to play an important part in the Brass Band world.

(Report published in 1893)