The Stabat Mater of Herbert Howells: The Agony and the Ecstasy

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Herbert Howells composed three large works for chorus and orchestra: a requiem (Hymnus Paradisi), Latin mass (Missa Sabrinensis) and finally a Stabat Mater. Writings, performances and recordings of the Stabat Mater, however, have been few. As the Stabat Mater is believed to be the culmination of his musical prowess, it is important to bring this major work to light. Chapter 1 begins with a brief introduction to Herbert Howells, then continues as a brief biographical sketch. Howells's life is discussed from birth, as organ scholar, student at the Royal College of Music, his teaching professorship at the same institution, and ... continued below

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Childs, Kim J. August 2006.

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  • Childs, Kim J.

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Herbert Howells composed three large works for chorus and orchestra: a requiem (Hymnus Paradisi), Latin mass (Missa Sabrinensis) and finally a Stabat Mater. Writings, performances and recordings of the Stabat Mater, however, have been few. As the Stabat Mater is believed to be the culmination of his musical prowess, it is important to bring this major work to light. Chapter 1 begins with a brief introduction to Herbert Howells, then continues as a brief biographical sketch. Howells's life is discussed from birth, as organ scholar, student at the Royal College of Music, his teaching professorship at the same institution, and important compositions by decade until his death. Chapter 2 is an overview of the Hymnus Paradisi and Missa Sabrinensis. The chapter gives historical information on each work, including reasons for commission, dates of composition and performance, orchestration and choral composition, type of soloists, conductor and recordings. Chapter 3 is an in depth study of the Stabat Mater. The chapter includes reasons for the genesis of the work, current and past events that affected the composition, musical influences, and the death of his son Michael Kendrick Howells. A second section to this chapter addresses the text of the Stabat Mater, including the history of the poem, liturgical use from the 11th century to the present, the rhythmic scheme of the poem, and variant stanzas used in the Howells's setting. Chapter 4 is a thorough musical analysis of the Stabat Mater. After a short introduction explaining the architecture of the work as a whole, each of seven movements is examined, including the introduction, main themes, musical elements and use of Latin text. A concluding final chapter restates the importance of Herbert Howells as a composer in the British musical renaissance of the 20th century, in addition to a supposition that this final large orchestral/choral work be considered the culmination of his life's work.

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  • August 2006

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  • June 24, 2008, 8:10 p.m.

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  • Dec. 14, 2016, 4:18 p.m.

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Childs, Kim J. The Stabat Mater of Herbert Howells: The Agony and the Ecstasy, dissertation, August 2006; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc5791/: accessed August 15, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .