Howells, Herbert Norman
b Lydney, Glos 1892, d Putney, London 1983. Lydney Grammar Sch and Gloucester Cathedral Sch; articled to the Gloucester organist Sir Herbert Brewer 1905–11, he won an RCM scholarship in 1912 (the year his work was first performed in London), studying under Stanford, Parry, Wood and Walford Davies (FRCM, FRCO). In a connection lasting over 60 years, he later joined its staff as Prof of Composition and edited its journal. He was deeply affected by the waste of World War 1, and by the death in 1935 of his 9-year old son Michael from polio. He was briefly sub-organist at Salisbury Cathedral (a job cut short by his own severe illness), and in 1936 he succeeded G Holst (qv) in teaching at St Paul’s Girls’ School, London, remaining until 1962. As London Univ’s Prof of Music, 1950–62 and President of RCO, 1958–59 he was in demand as an examiner and adjudicator. He wrote widely on plainsong and medieval works, and composed music for some of the songs of his friend Walter de la Mare. His own compositions include works for piano, organ, string, woodwind, brass band and orchestral music, chamber music, choral works, song cycles, music for royal events and Oxbridge colleges, and some hymn tunes—virtually every form except opera, with church music dominating in later years; he loved cathedral architecture and had a special affection for the service of Evensong. In retirement he lived at Barnes in W London, until his death at the age of 90. DMus (Oxon); Hon MusD (Camb); CBE 1954, CH 1972. No.775.