Austerity, Difficulty and Retrospection: The Late Style of Herbert Howells

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Herbert Howells’s last major work (and perhaps masterpiece) was the Stabat Mater of 1965, a work which was the culmination of the composer’s highly-wrought contrapuntal music. However the creative process did not finish there and he would compose many works in the next thirteen years, often carrying on the sound-world and processes evident in the Stabat Mater. In this chapter, I aim to highlight some of the aspects of late style in this largely neglected music, including further polyphonic complexity, sensitivity in text setting, emotional restraint, austerity and a sense of mortality hitherto not present in his earlier work. I will aim to show this stylistic change in his choral works including the York Service (1973), the Dallas Canticles (1975), the two George Herbert settings Sweetest of Sweets and Antiphon (1976) and the uncompleted Washington Cathedral works of the late 1970s.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Music of Herbert Howells
EditorsPhillip A. Cooke, David Maw
PublisherBoydell & Brewer
ISBN (Print)9781843838791
Publication statusPublished - 18 Oct 2013


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