Eisteddfod (Welsh, plural Eisteddfodau - a sitting of the learned).
An annual gathering, now taking the form of a mainly music festival, but
formerly a triennial assembly of Welsh bards, dating back to the 7th
century at latest.
From Everyman's Dictionary of Music, compiled by Eric Blom,
Eisteddfod (Welsh, 'Session', from eistedd, 'to sit'.
Plural Eisteddfodau). The national Welsh gathering of bards,
dating in its present form from 1817, though it is said to date back, in
one form or another, as far as the 7th century, with a suspension throughout
the entire 18th century and a few years before and after it. It now takes
place annually (in August) in various Welsh towns. Degrees of Ofydd
(Ovate), Bardd (Bard), and Pencerdd (Chief Musician) are
conferred on candidates who pass various tests and there is a strong choral
and competitive side to the gathering. Many local Eisteddfodau
exist in the form of competitive fests. An international Eisteddfod, at
which choirs and dancers from all over the world compete, has been held
annually in Llangollen since 1947.
From The Concise
Oxford Dictionary of Music, compiled by Michael Kennedy, 1980.
'The earliest [Eisteddfod]
that can be traced, according to the Chronicle of the Princes (Brut y
Tywysogion), was held at Christmas at Cardigan in 1176 under the patronage
of Lord Rhys ap Gruffudd ...'
'There are several references to an eisteddfod held at Carmarthen about
1450 or '51 under the patronage of Gruffudd ap Nicolas ...'
'The next important eisteddfodau were at Caerwys in 1523 and 1567 ...'
'Thereafter the tradition degenerated until it was rekindled at the end of
the eighteenth century by the London-based Gwyneddigion Society ...'
'During the early nineteenth the eisteddfod was revived by a group of offeiriaid
llengar (literary clerics) and the Cymreigyddion Society, and, in the
1860s, culminated with the formation of the National Eisteddfod Society.'
From The Story of the
Harp in Wales, by Osian Ellis.