He was born in Oswestry in September 1869 the grandson of a Congregational minister. He died in March 1941 aged 71. Aged 12 he won a choristership at St. George’s Windsor. At the age of 29, after studying at the Royal College of Music he became organist and choirmaster at the Temple Church, the church of the Inns of Court. The lawyers were proud of their church’s music and it seems that rather than Walford reporting to the choir committee it was the committee that reported to Walford. He improved the music both in the selection of the works and in the quality of the performances.
During World War 1, being too old for active service, he devoted much time in entertaining the troops, putting on informal concerts with friends and pupils, giving lectures and getting men to sing. He could switch easily from accompanying a popular song to playing a Beethoven sonata and could carry his audience with him. In 1918 he was delighted to be commissioned as a major into the newly formed RAF as Director of Music, though no one knew what this officer’s duties were.
Walford formed the Choral Union, now known as the University Singers. Like Joseph Parry, he proved very popular with the students in Aberystwyth. He organised an annual Music Festival, the precursor of the Aberystwyth MusicFest at the Arts Centre. This brought distinguished musicians such as Elgar, Holst, Vaughan Williams, Edward German, Adrian Boult and HenryWood to Aberystwyth.
He also organised other music festivals in many parts of Wales, most noticeably the three valleys which held their concerts in the Mountain Ash pavilion. Later a Royal Commission on Welsh Education reported that despite the great love of music and in particular choral, there was little if any chance of hearing any in Wales. It recommended the appointment of a Director of Music, who would be a professor and was charged with remedying the problem. In 1919 Walford was appointed to the post, with generous funding being provided by Gwendoline and Margaret Davies of Gregynog. The three valleys were the Cynon, the Rhondda and the Taff. They became the highlight of the depressed days of the 1930s.
Walford remained Director of Music for the University of Wales until his death, but gave up his chair on the death of Elgar in 1934. He became Master of the King’s Music, a position he held with distinction for the rest of his life. He was a man full of ideas and energy, although he did not always have the administrative gifts needed to turn all of his ideas into reality. Opposite the lower corner of Cliff Terrace there is a small stone plaque which states that he once lived there. This does not fit the description given by his biographer C.H. Colles, and Charlie Clements always asserted that Walford had never lived there.
By Gillian Manton from notes provided by F. Bott from his talk at the Marine Hotel, Aberystwyth, to members of CANTM at their annual lunch, 13 November 2019.