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HOWELLS, Herbert Norman (1892-1983)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 1249 Howells
Held at: Royal College of Music
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Full title: HOWELLS, Herbert Norman (1892-1983)
Date(s): 1899-1978
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 17 boxes
Name of creator(s): Howells | Herbert Norman | 1892-1983 | composer


Administrative/Biographical history:

Herbert Norman Howells, born Lydney, Gloucestershire, 17 Oct 1892; educated Lydney Grammar School and Gloucester Cathedral, where he was a pupil of Sir Herbert Brewer, Gloucester Cathedral; won Open Scholarship in Composition, Royal College of Music, 1912; studied there under Sir Charles Stanford, Sir Walter Parratt, Sir Hubert Parry, Charles Wood, and Sir Walford Davies, 1912-1917; succeeded to the Grove Scholarship, 1915, and became Bruce Scholar, 1916; his first work performed in London was the Mass produced by Sir Richard Terry at Westminster Cathedral, 1912; sub-organist, Salisbury Cathedral, until illness forced retirement, 1917; convalesced and acted as assistant to Sir Richard Terry in editing manuscripts of Tudor church music, and composed much of his own music, 1917-1920; appointed lecturer (later Professor of Composition), Royal College of Music; the death of his son Michael in 1935, acted as an influence on many of his later compositions; Director of Music, St Paul's Girls' School, Brook Green, 1936-1962; organist of St John's College, Cambridge, 1941-1945; appointed King Edward Professor of Music, University of London, 1950 (Emeritus 1962); President of the Royal College of Organists (1958-1959), Incorporated Society of Musicians (1952) and Plainsong and Mediaeval Music Society. Hon MusD Cambridge, 1961; Hon DMus RCM 1982; Hon. FRSCM, 1963; Hon Fellow: St John's College, Cambridge, 1962; Queen's College, Oxford, 1977; Master, Worshipful Company of Musicians, 1959 (first John Collard Fellow; elected to John Collard Life Fellowship, 1959); died London, 23 Feb 1983. Selected compositions: Sir Patrick Spens; Sine Nomine Procession; Puck's Minuet; Piano Concerto; Elegy for Strings; Concerto for Strings; Lady Audrey's Suite; Phantasy Quartet; Piano Quartet; Rhapsodic Quintet; First and Third Sonatas for violin and pianoforte; Lambert's Clavichord; In Green Ways, five songs for Soprano and Orchestra; Peacock Pie song-cycle; Sonata for Organ; Hymnus Paradisi; Missa Sabrinensis; Pageantry; A Kent Yeoman's Wooing Song; Four Organ Rhapsodies; Six Psalm Preludes; Music for a Prince (for HRH Prince Charles); Introit (composed for Coronation Service, 1953); Inheritance (commissioned by The Arts Council of Great Britain for A Garland for the Queen, 1953); An English Mass, 1955; Howell's Clavichord (20 pieces); Missa Aedis Christi; Missa, Collegium Regale; Three Figures; Sequence for St Michael; Coventry Antiphon; Stabat Mater; The Coventry Mass.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of Herbert Howells, 1899-1978, including notes, manuscript drafts and typescripts of BBC talks and broadcasts (box B), including 'Music and the ordinary listener' (1937), 'Music and everyday life' (1938), 'The Three Choirs Festival in Elgar's time' (1960), tributes to Malcom Sargent (1965) and Sir William Harris (1973); manuscript notes for Royal College of Music (RCM) and University of London lectures (boxes C and D), 1940s-1950s, including talks on his work Sine Nomine (1922), Ivor Gurney (c1939), Hubert Parry (1968), Ralph Vaughan Williams (1972); notes and transcripts for his speeches to various organisations including the Incorporated Society of Musicians (1953), Worshipful Company of Musicians (1957), Royal College of Organists (1959); book of poetry copied on first anniversary of the death of his son Michael Howells, 1936; cuttings of articles by Howells in newspapers and journals, and by others on Howells' music and performances (boxes E and H); papers relating to the Sir James Caird Travelling Scholarships, and notebooks containing Howell's adjudications with draft reports (box F); appointment diaries, 1955,1956 and 1973, address books of Herbert and Dorothy Howells, and printed concert programmes with notes written by Howells (box G), RCM student essays on Howells' music; letters received by Howells from over 260 correspondents, 1915-1978, with particular accumulations from Charles Bathurst Viscount Bledisloe, Sir Arthur and Trudy Bliss, Sir Adrian Boult, Robert Thurston Dart, Sybil Eaton, Gerald and Joy Finzi, Harry Plunket Greene, Walter de la Mare, Sir Hubert Parry, William Rothenstein, Marion Scott, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and others including Sir John Barbirolli, Arnold Bax, Nadia Boulanger, Benjamin Britten, Neville Cardus, Aaron Copland, Sir Henry Walford Davies, Thomas Frederick Dunhill, Keith Falkner, Guido Gatti, Edward Health, Gustav Holst, Joseph Horovitz, Zoltán Kodály, Cecil Day-Lewis, Yehudi Menuhin, Peter Pears, Edmund Rubbra, Harold Watkins Shaw, Sir Charles Villiers Stanford, Sybil Thorndike and Michael Tippett; correspondence relating to his medical condition (1917), with Oxford colleges, with publishers and commissioning bodies, on his Cambridge Doctorate; photocopies of letters from Howells to 30 correspondents, including those already mentioned and to the Carnegie UK Trust; family correspondence (box A).

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

In two sections: 1) Howell, autograph material (boxes A-I). 2) Letters received from correspondents (boxes, I-VIII).

Conditions governing access:

Usual conditions of the Library of the Royal College of Music apply. See the RCM website or contact the RCM Library for details.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Photocopying is permitted at the discretion of the Archivist for research purposes only.

Finding aids:

There is a box list available to Howells' autograph material, and an alphabetical index of letters from Howells' correspondents. An index is also available to photocopies of Howells' letters to correspondents. There is also a printed catalogue of Howells' music manuscripts held by the RCM Library.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited by Howells' estate, 1999.

Allied Materials

Related material:

The RCM Library also holds the majority of Howells' music manuscripts.

Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, holds some music manuscripts of Howells.

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Robert Baxter as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project. Sources: Who's Who; article on Howells by Paul Andrews, Grove Dictionary of Music.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Jun 2001

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