Welsh composer and teacher Mervyn Burtch was born in Ystrad Mynach on 7 November 1929, and spent almost his entire life in Cwm Rhymni, south-east Wales. After lessons with David Wynne at Lewis School in Pengam, he studied at Cardiff University and worked as head of music at Bargoed Grammar Technical School, head of music at Lewis Girls' School in Ystrad Mynach and then headed the performance course at the Welsh College of Music and Drama until 1989, before turning to composition full time.
He was known especially for his work with children's music projects, writing thirteen operas for children, and was sucessful at this because of his background as a teacher.
In 1996 he founded and became president of the international KidsOp project with Canadian writer and teacher Mark Morris. This led to closer ties with Canada, and in particular the Banff Centre and other Alberta venues, and to six operas for young performers and professional musicians. The most successful of these was The Raven King, exploring the relationships between humans and animals, with children from Banff, Cardiff, Germany, Ireland, Mexico and South Africa collaborating online.
Influenced by Haydn and Janáček, Burtch also wrote seventeen string quartets, fourteen concertos, and instrumental, vocal, brass band pieces and works for community groups. His choral music includes popular arrangements of Welsh folk songs, recorded by the National Youth Choir of Wales in 1999.
Mervyn Burtch died on 12 May 2015, aged eighty-five, leaving more than six-hundred-and-fifty compositions.
Further information: www.mervynburtch.com
A selection of M&V articles about Mervyn Burtch
Ensemble. A Generous Weekend - The third William Alwyn Festival, attended by Patric Standford