The Piano in the Works of Herbert Howells and his British Contemporaries
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Herbert Howells (1 892-1 983) occupies an important niche in the history of western music. His developments in music for the Anglican liturgy from the 1940's onward continue to affect sacred music to this very day. These developments include a marked increase in text-painting, expansion of the "acceptable" harmonic spectrum and of choral technique, and a general advance in artistry and compositional methods. By the time of his death, Howells had created a body of liturgical works that firmly established him as a master at his craft. However, this created a somewhat one-sided view of his talent. In point of fact, Howells' turn to liturgical music did not happen until fairly late in his career. Before this and throughout his entire life, he composed secular works that are little known today, even in his native England. These are works full of color and lyricism that certainly deserve a place in a performer's repertoire. It is this secular music which is examined in this dissertation, specifically works for solo piano, violin and piano, and voice and piano. To place Howells' music in context to his environment in England, works by his British contemporaries are included as well. The three recitals presented in this dissertation are designed to display the chronological progress of Howells' music, from his earliest style to his mature language. Repertoire was selected based on historical relevance and musical interest. They were recorded live on May 1, 2006, November 21,2006, both in the Gildenhorn Recital Hall of the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, and on March 30,2007 in Ulrich Recital Hall in College Park, Maryland. Recordings of these recitals may be obtained in person or online from the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library of the University of Maryland, College Park.