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Herbert Howells
1892 - 1983
Great Britain, England
H. Howells
Herbert Howells (17/10/1892 - 24/02/1983), an English composer, born in Lydney (Gloucester). He started his musical career as a cathedral organist. He succeeded Gustav Holst as director of music at St Paul's Girls' School in London and taught composition for many years at the Royal College of Music. A pupil of Stanford and Charles Wood at the Royal College, he wrote music within the prevailing English tradition, showing some affinity with Vaughan Williams in his choral music.
Composed in:1936
Musical form:free
Text/libretto:Latin mass + English texts
Label(s):Resonus RES10200
Naxos 8.554659
Ars Musici AM 1265-2
Harmonia Mundi HMU 807518
This Requiem contains:
01. Salvator mundi
02. Psalm 23
03. Requiem aeternam (1)
04. Psalm 121
05. Requiem aeternam (2)
06. I heard a voice from heaven
Source:booklet of cd Resonus RES10200

♫ 01. Salvator mundi
Resonus RES10200

♫ 02. Psalm 23
Resonus RES10200

♫ 03. Requiem aeternam (1)
Resonus RES10200

♫ 04. Psalm 121
Resonus RES10200

♫ 05. Requiem aeternam (2)
Resonus RES10200

♫ 06. I heard a voice from heaven
Resonus RES10200
This requiem was originaly written for Boris Ord and the King's College Cambridge. Requiem, composed in the 1930s but not performed until 1980. Some of the Requiem themes eventually found their way into the Hymnus Paradisi.
Howell's Requiem of 1936 was set for divided mixed chorus with soprano, tenor and baritone soloists. This unaccompanied work was the first of two which arose from the tragic death in 1935 of the composer's only son Michael Kendrick Howells, aged nine, from either miningitis or polio. (He had also found Elgar's death in 1934 difficult to bear). The writing of this work and Hymnus Paradisi (1938) achieved for Howells some 'release and consolation' from a 'loss essentially profound'. Both works have strong comparisons and contrasts but, although Hymnus Paradisi was released for publication in 1950 (with some persuasion from Vaughan Williams), it was not until 1980 that the Requiem was re-assembled from manuscript and released for publication and performance. The six movements of the Requiem open with Salvator Mundi where the smooth melancholic opening is soon followed by a splitting of the choir to achieve answering phrases to the entreaty help us and save us. Psalm 23 is a simple, stark chanting style that reflects speech values. The Requiem aeternam (1) moves from desolation to hope and Psalm 121 reflects the syllabic style achieved earlier. Requiem aeternum (2) opens and ends with a calm stillness, the mid section having built up to an enlightening climax with et lux perpetua luceat. The final movement: I heard a voice from heaven achieves an air of blissful peace and is the summation of the release from torment that Howells must have wished for his child.
Author:Marion Ansell
Hymnus Paradisi
Composed in:1938
Musical form:free
Text/libretto:from: Latin mass, the Anglican burial service, as well as the texts of Psalm 23 and Psalm 121
In memory of:his son Michael Kendrick
Label(s):EMI Classics 7243 5 67119 2 1
Hymnus Paradisi consists of six movements:
01. Preludio (for orchestra)
02. Requiem aeternam
03. The Lord is my shepherd (a setting of Psalm 23)
04. Sanctus. I will lift up mine eyes (which juxtaposes the Sanctus from the Ordinary of the Mass with Psalm 121)
05. I heard a voice from heaven (from the Burial Service)
06. Holy is the true light (from the Salisbury Diurnal, translation by G. H. Palmer)

♫ 01. Preludio
Chandos Records CHAN 10727

♫ 02. Requiem aeternam
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♫ 03. The Lord is my shepherd
Chandos Records CHAN 10727

♫ 04. Sanctus. I will lift up mine eyes
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♫ 05. I heard a voice from heaven
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♫ 06. Holy is the true light
Chandos Records CHAN 10727
Hymnus Paradisi is composed for chorus and orchestra with soprano and tenor soloists. From the opening measures, it's quite recognizable as Howells, but there is a depth and a power lacking in his earlier work. The text includes a few lines from the traditional Latin Requiem along with lines from the Anglican burial service, as well as the texts of Psalm 23 and Psalm 121. The result, like the Brahms German Requiem, is a consolation for the living and a promising glimmer of hope. Because of the personal nature of the composition, Hymnus Paradisi remained unperformed until 1950 and finally saw the light of day, thanks to the urging of Vaughan Williams.
Howells reused some of the Requiem (1933) to ceate his larger, longer requiem, called Hymnus Paradisi, which was very much dedicated to his son Michael, who died in 1935 from polio, nine years old.
Hymnus Paradisi is an intensely personal work - in fact, for twelve years after its completion, the composer kept it to himself. It was written as part of the grieving process for Howells' 9-year old son, who died suddenly of polio in 1935. A requiem in all but name, it expresses an almost unbearable intensity of grief and quest for hope and salvation.