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2 - Howells and Counterpoint

from PART I - Howells the Stylist

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 December 2013

Phillip A. Cooke
Affiliation:
Lecturer in Composition at the University of Aberdeen
David Maw
Affiliation:
Tutor and Research Fellow in Music at Oriel College, Oxford, holding Lectureships also at Christ Church, The Queen's and Trinity Colleges
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Summary

The music of Herbert Howells is inseparable from counterpoint: indeed, he considered himself to belong to the Tudor period ‘not only musically but in every way’. That was an intensely polyphonic era, and he himself normally thought in counterpoint (a trait he shared with Vaughan Williams). Thus the underlying feeling of ‘H. H. His Fancy’ (written in 1927) is of a meditative and dreamy fugue, the word ‘Fancy’ standing both for the Tudor idea of ‘imitative fantasia’ and for ‘the kind of music most admired by H. H.’ As it happens, ‘Foss's Dump’ (no. 6 in the same collection) is also a fugue, but it is perhaps surprising that the piece written for H. K. Andrews (no. 6 in Book 1 of Howells' Clavichord – HH 237) – that expert on all things pertaining to Palestrina and Byrd – eschews imitative counterpoint in favour of a melodic line with clear roots in Tudor keyboard dances, though with flowing contrapuntal accompaniment. Indeed, Howells's interest in Tudor music appears to have veered more towards the dance and air than towards the imitative fantasia or motet: ‘Master Tallis's Testament’ (from the Six Pieces for Organ of 1939–45 – HH 226) provides a modal tune with modally inflected supporting harmony, but does not use imitative counterpoint (even though Tallis was an expert at writing it); and when Bartök had tea with him in London, Howells demonstrated Tudor keyboard music by playing Farnaby's ‘His Rest’ and ‘Tower Hill’, and two pieces by Byrd (a pavane and ‘The Carman's Whistle’) – but not any of the Tudor imitative fantasias.

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Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2013

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  • Howells and Counterpoint
  • Edited by Phillip A. Cooke, Lecturer in Composition at the University of Aberdeen, David Maw, Tutor and Research Fellow in Music at Oriel College, Oxford, holding Lectureships also at Christ Church, The Queen's and Trinity Colleges
  • Foreword by John Rutter
  • Book: The Music of Herbert Howells
  • Online publication: 05 December 2013
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  • Howells and Counterpoint
  • Edited by Phillip A. Cooke, Lecturer in Composition at the University of Aberdeen, David Maw, Tutor and Research Fellow in Music at Oriel College, Oxford, holding Lectureships also at Christ Church, The Queen's and Trinity Colleges
  • Foreword by John Rutter
  • Book: The Music of Herbert Howells
  • Online publication: 05 December 2013
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Howells and Counterpoint
  • Edited by Phillip A. Cooke, Lecturer in Composition at the University of Aberdeen, David Maw, Tutor and Research Fellow in Music at Oriel College, Oxford, holding Lectureships also at Christ Church, The Queen's and Trinity Colleges
  • Foreword by John Rutter
  • Book: The Music of Herbert Howells
  • Online publication: 05 December 2013
Available formats
×