RECENT: Find out about composers from unusual places, including Gerard Schurmann, Giya Kancheli, Nazib Zhiganov and Nodar Gabunia, about singing in cars, and meet Jim Hutton from the RLPO and some of our regular contributors in this eighty-minute February 2021 video.
English composer, organist and teacher Herbert Howells was born at Lydney in Gloucestershire on 17 October 1892. He studied with Herbert Brewer at Gloucester Cathedral, alongside Ivor Novello and the composer and poet Ivor Gurney, with whom Howells became friends.
Illness - he was diagnosed with Graves' disease and was the first person in the country to receive radium treatment - cut short his tenure as organist at Salisbury Cathedral, and he worked as an editor of Tudor choral repertoire at Westminster Cathedral. He followed Gustav Holst as director of music at St Paul's Girls' School, taught composition at the Royal College of Music from 1920, and, during World War II, was acting organist of St John's College Cambridge.
Howells is known especially for his choral music. Hymnus Paradisi for choir and orchestra was written after the early death of Howells' son, and there is much service music for the Anglican church. The motet Take Him, Earth, for Cherishing was written in memory of the assassinated John F Kennedy.
He is also known for two collections of clavichord music - Lambert's Clavichord and Howells' Clavichord, and there is much orchestral, chamber, piano and organ music, and even two pieces for brass band.
Howells died in London on 23 February 1983.
CD Spotlight. Benjamin Britten and James Joyce - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to two sets of English folk and other songs. '... very good listening ...'
CD Spotlight. An Integral Part of Christmas - Carols from the SWR Vokal Ensemble, heard by Gerald Fenech. '... beautifully shaped and vocally refined and the voices come across clear and resonant.'
Ensemble. Big Statements - Laurence Caldecote plays works by Théodore-César Salomé, William Harris, Hendrik Andriessen, George Frideric Handel, Wallace Sabin, Herbert Howells, Leonard Butler and Jean Sibelius for the Derby Cathedral Autumn Organ Recitals, heard by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Imaginative Prowess - Gerald Fenech listens to piano music by the twentieth century English composer Herbert Howells. 'Deeply attractive music, sensitively played and sumptuously recorded.'
Ensemble. Packed With Good Things - Roderic Dunnett reports from the 2019 Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester
Ensemble. Centres of Excellence - Roderic Dunnett looks back to the 2017 Three Choirs Festival at Worcester, and forward to 2018 in Hereford
Ensemble. Subdued Radiance - Mike Wheeler listens to music on the theme of Remembrance from the Derwent Singers
Historical Spread - Michael Overbury's Derby Cathedral organ recital impresses Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. A Fantastic Collection - Little-known harpsichord gems, strongly recommended by Alice McVeigh. '... succeeds utterly, as does the immaculately sensitive [Penelope] Cave.'
Ensemble. The Treasured Crown - Roderic Dunnett reports in depth on last month's Three Choirs Festival at Gloucester
CD Spotlight. Sublime Beauty - Choral music by Herbert Howells, recommended by Gerald Fenech. '... glorious choral textures ...'
CD Spotlight. Widely Spread - Christmas music from Caius College Choir, recommended by Keith Bramich. '... high-quality singing with lovely rounded tone ...'
Considerable Beauty - An organ recital by John Hosking, heard by Tony Westerman
CD Spotlight. Style and Imagination - Paul McCreesh's Christmas album, recommended by Keith Bramich. '... high-quality British Christmas music from the Gabrieli Consort ...'
Ensemble. Added Vibrancy - Mike Wheeler listens to a classy concert from the Sitwell Singers
CD Spotlight. Meltingly Beautiful - Christmas music from the Vasari Singers, unstintingly recommended by Howard Smith. '... exemplary radiant style and élan ...'
Ensemble. The Finest of Them All - The 2012 Hereford Three Choirs Festival, reviewed by Roderic Dunnett
CD Spotlight. Beautifully Apt - Choral music by Herbert Howells, heard by Robert Anderson. '... Howells at his finest.'
Ensemble. Powerfully Expressive - Holst, Howells, Finzi and Liszt from the Derwent Singers, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
DVD Spotlight. Dignity and Impudence - A recital on Exeter Cathedral's organ, enjoyed by Gerald Fenech. '... Millington on fine form ...'
Ensemble. Exciting Teamwork - Roderic Dunnett was in Worcester for the 2011 Three Choirs Festival
Ensemble. Sorcerers and Apprentices - Collaborative organ performances at Derby Cathedral by Peter Gould, Tom Corfield, Christopher Johns, Ben Bloor and Sachin Gunga delight Tony Westerman
Majesty, Moment and Control - Ben Bloor's concluding recital for Derby Cathedral's 2010 summer organ series impresses Tony Westerman
Highly Characterful - Tom Corfield plays Whitlock, Howells, Messiaen, Bach and Peeters, heard by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. A Unifying Mood - A new song cycle by Julian Dawes, heard by Malcolm Miller
CD Spotlight. Mice in the Manger - A selection of Christmas music, enjoyed by George Balcombe. '... an amazing collection.'
Bizarre Perception - Alistair Hinton discusses a recent article on English music by David Hamilton
Ensemble. Shade and Nuance - Chamber music by Julian Dawes, appreciated by Malcolm Miller
Record Box. A Rewarding Experience - Music from The Phoenix Chorale impresses Patric Standford
Ensemble. In Memory of Hickox - Vaughan Williams' 'Sancta Civitas', reviewed by Robert Hugill
Ensemble. A Fascinating Work - The first performance of Gabriel Jackson's Requiem, reviewed by Robert Hugill
Youthful Freshness - Gareth Green gives the final organ recital in Derby Cathedral's summer series, and Mike Wheeler was in the audience
Compelling Effect - Malcolm Archer at the organ of Derby Cathedral, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Three Premières - Malcolm Miller applauds the latest concert of music by Julian Dawes
Bold and Forthright - Marcus Huxley played at Derby Cathedral, and Mike Wheeler was there
Record box. Choral textures - An anniversary CD by an English cathedral choir, welcomed by Patric Standford
CD Spotlight. Exuberant performances - Howells Canticles from the Collegiate Singers, reviewed by Rex Harley. 'The balance of the choir is near perfect ...'
Second sight. Music with Wilfrid Mellers - The rough and the smooth
Record box. Cathedral setting - Howells in ecclesiastical mode, by Basil Ramsey
Record box - Drawing out. Herbert Howells on CD, considered by Basil Ramsey