Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-8448b6f56d-dnltx Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-04-24T20:36:38.206Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Introduction: Paradox of an Establishment Composer

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
Get access

Summary

The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II is a fitting time to take stock of Herbert Howells's compositional achievement and legacy. He was one of the distinguished British composers commissioned to write for the coronation ceremony; and his work for this occasion, the Introit ‘Behold, O God Our Defender’(HH 276), composed by his account on Christmas Day in 1952, seemingly epitomises his position. Aged sixty, he was a doyen of the English musical establishment. A professor at the Royal College of Music (RCM) since 1920, he was an accomplished and highly respected composer of church music who could be counted on to write something that would fit a state ceremonial occasion: music that would reflect national pride and identity before the world; music that would blend with the ceremonial, being part of it and not raising its voice beyond the pageantry.

If the muted tone and warm sound-world of the piece seem on the surface to manifest the respectability that would be expected for such an occasion, they sit oddly with the ecstatic turn the music continually takes. There are just three clauses in the text (one and a half verses of Psalm 84), yet by taking each as the basis of a separate section of music, Howells stretches them into a piece of almost four minutes' duration. In a way scarcely prompted by either the words or the occasion, each of the three sections builds from a soft initial dynamic to an effulgent climax before dying down again.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2013

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

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 Dropbox.

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.

Available formats
×