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Frank Stewart Howes

Male 1891 - 1974  (83 years)


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  • Name Frank Stewart Howes  [1, 2, 3
    Birth Abt 1891  St Aldate, Oxford, Oxfordshire Find all individuals with events at this location  [4
    Birth Abt Mar 1891  Grandpont, Berkshire Find all individuals with events at this location  [5
    Born 2 Apr 1891  13 Cobden Crescent, Oxford, Oxfordshire Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Gender Male 
    Birth 2 Apr 1891  Oxford, Oxfordshire Find all individuals with events at this location  [6
    Residence 5 Apr 1891  13 Cobden Crescent, Oxford, Oxfordshire Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Birth Abt May 1891  Oxford RD, Oxfordshire Find all individuals with events at this location  [7
    Residence 1901  48 Walton Street, Oxford, Oxfordshire Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Education Bef 1910  Oxford High School, Oxford, Oxfordshire Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Education Between 1910 and 1914  St John's College, Oxford, Oxfordshire Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Employer Between 1925 and 1960 
    The Times (of London) 
    Occupation Between 1925 and 1960 
    Music critic 
    Honour 1954  [6
    Companion of the Order of British Empire 
    Death 28 Sep 1974  Standlake, Oxfordshire Find all individuals with events at this location  [6
    Died 28 Sep 1974  Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, Oxfordshire Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Cremated 2 Oct 1974  Crematorium, Oxford, Oxfordshire Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    • Ashes interred at St Lawrence, Combe, Oxfordshire
    Notes 
    • became schoolmaster and conscientious objector during 1914-18 war; studied at Royal College of Music, 1920-2; joined The Times, 1925; lectured at RCM, 1938-70; appointed senior music critic of The Times, 1943-60;
      publications include The Borderland of Music and Psychology (1926), William Byrd (1928), A Key to Opera (with P. Hope-Wallace, 1939), Full Orchestra (1942), The Music of William Walton (2 vols., 1942-3, revised edn., 1965), Man, Mind and Music (1948), The Music of Ralph Vaughan Williams (1954), The Cheltenham Festival (1965), The English Musical Renaissance (1966), Oxford Concerts (1969), and Folk Music of Britain---and Beyond (1969); editor, Journal of English Folk Dance and Song Society, 1927-45;
      founder of Musica Britannica; president, Royal Music Association, 1948-58; CBE, 1954; hon. fellow, RCM; hon. RAM; hon. freeman, Worshipful Company of Musicians

      A paragraph from Grove's Dictionary of Music:
      A champion of contemporary English music, he did much to further the music of Vaughan Williams and Walton between the wars, later writing excellent monographs on each (1954 and 1965). His study of The English Musical Renaissance (1966) declared natural affinities which made him out of sympathy with the movement which, after 1945, led away from national self-sufficiency in English music towards a more
      cosmopolitan attitude. He used his critical influence to support, for instance, the cause of opera in English and to combat new movements in music that he regarded as deleterious. A staunch champion of anonymous criticism (as in The Times), Howes possessed a personal style, in which the didactic was often concealed beneath an easy persuasiveness of manner, and strong individual opinions; and the combination served as effectively as any signature to identify his writing.

      From his obituary in the Musical Times, it is stated that:
      - Frank lived in a mill on the Windrush river just above its confluence with the Thames and could frequently be seen punting on the river
      - when threatened by a proposal to divert the Windrush, he floored the local authority by producing a medieval statute preserving the miller's right to a head of water!

      Here is the full text of the article in the Dictionary of National Biography
      Howes, Frank Stewart (1891-1974), music critic and author, was born on 2 April 1891 at 13 Cobden Crescent, Oxford, the elder child and only
      son of George Howes (1866-1949), a grocer and amateur singer of Oxford, and his wife, Grace Selina Phipps (1866-1949). He was educated at Oxford high school, then at St John's College, Oxford (1910-14). He obtained third classes in classical honour moderations and literae humaniores, rowed for his college at Henley, and sang in the chorus in performances of Beethoven's Fidelio and Weber's Der Freischütz conducted by Hugh Allen. He became a schoolmaster, served a brief prison sentence during the First World War as a pacifist conscientious objector, and then went to the Royal College of Music (1920-22), attending the criticism class run by H. C. Colles. In 1925 he joined Colles as a music critic on The Times, and he succeeded to the principal post on Colles's death in 1943. On 18 September 1929 Howes married Barbara Mildred (1902-1998), daughter of John Tidd Pratt, a solicitor of Newark-on-Trent, and niece of the warden of Wadham; they had three daughters and one son.

      Howes's first book, The Borderland of Music and Psychology (1926), and his editing of what became the Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society (1927-45) indicated the cast of his mind, in which speculation was rooted in the soil of his native country. His A Key to Opera (with P. Hope-Wallace, 1939) revealed another enthusiasm. In his Full Orchestra (1942, a revised edition of which appeared posthumously in 1976) his experience as a lecturer together with his lively, lucid prose produced a popular success.

      Howes taught history of music and criticism at the Royal College of Music from 1938 to 1970, during the war coming up from his family retreat, an old mill house near Standlake, where the River Windrush flows into the Thames. When he took over at The Times in 1943, readers
      were jaded, and both newsprint and music were in short supply. With vigour and assurance he directed the post-war expansion. He approved
      the anonymity then in force-though his own views and style were recognizable enough-as an aid to objective, responsible criticism without personal display. Though no longer a Congregationalist but a secular humanist, Howes maintained Colles's support for church music. He insisted on a wide coverage in the paper, so that débuts and amateur events were reported as well as major national occasions. He
      retained The Times's weekly music article, valuing the chance to expand on a remote or a topical point, and was once delighted to be complimented simply on the range of his subjects. He refused to look at scores in advance or to attend dress rehearsals, and liked writing
      his notice on the night, believing that the pressure made for immediacy and allowed no opportunity for outside influence.

      Howes threw his considerable weight behind such causes as opera in English (he himself knew no modern languages), the founding of Musica Britannica, and the building of the Royal Festival Hall; The Times's coverage of the Festival of Britain was reprinted in Musical Britain, 1951. His authority and urbane common sense made him much in demand on committees: he was president of the Royal Musical Association (1948-58) and chairman of the Musicians' Benevolent Fund (1938-56) and of the English Folk Dance and Song Society (1932-46), and also served on the Arts Council and the British Council and held responsibilities in the BBC, the British Institute of Recorded Sound, and the Music in Hospitals. He gave the Cramb lectures at Glasgow University in 1947 and 1952, and the first Crees lectures (1950) for the Royal College of
      Music. He was created CBE in 1954; he was an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Music and honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music, and an honorary freeman of the Worshipful Company of Musicians.

      In spite of these commitments, Howes's early William Byrd (1928) was followed by the valuable and substantial studies The Music of Ralph
      Vaughan Williams (1954) and The Music of William Walton (1965; revised, 1974). Though his approach was on the whole analytical, he was always concerned to uncover the thoughts behind the sound, to relate music and ethics, to consider symbolism and aesthetics. These ideas he set out in Man, Mind and Music (1948). His wide sympathies extended notably to Benjamin Britten, but less to Igor Stravinsky and hardly at all to Arnold Schoenberg and his school, but his strong intellect and professional curiosity enabled him to write stimulatingly about music he disliked, and only occasionally could he be provoked into bluntness. His probity and good humour were respected even by those who might disagree with his taste.

      Howes retired from The Times in 1960, and out of his study beside the murmuring mill-race came The Cheltenham Festival (1965), published
      while he was chairman of that festival, and Oxford Concerts: a Jubilee Record (1969). During these years he wrote his autobiography: a record of the changes in his world and vignettes of notable people he knew as well as a personal testament, it remains in typescript in the British Library. His major works, summarizing his life's interest, were The English Musical Renaissance (1966), an overview of a period he had
      largely lived through, and Folkmusic of Britain-and Beyond (1969). He contributed many notices to the Dictionary of National Biography.

      Howes was a deeply emotional but self-reliant man, for whom music was one of the humanities. He was a trenchant speaker who enjoyed great occasions; but was as happy among his family and close friends on his river bank. There in the end he suffered from cancer. Howes died at the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, on 28 September 1974. He was cremated at Oxford crematorium on 2 October 1974, and his ashes were interred at St Lawrence, Combe, Oxfordshire.

      Diana McVeagh
    Person ID I22129  ONS
    Last Modified 20 Jan 2015 

    Father George Howes,   b. Abt Nov 1866, Oxford, Oxfordshire Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Abt May 1949, Cambridge RD, Cambridgeshire Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 82 years) 
    Mother Grace Selina Phipps,   b. Abt 1866, Combe, Oxfordshire Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Abt Feb 1949, Oxford RD, Oxfordshire Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 83 years) 
    Married Abt Aug 1889  Woodstock RD, Oxfordshire Find all individuals with events at this location  [8
    Family ID F9345  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Barbara Mildred Tidd Pratt,   d. Not known Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married Abt Aug 1929  Newark RD, Nottinghamshire Find all individuals with events at this location  [9
    Married 18 Sep 1929  Newark RD, Nottinghamshire Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married 18 Sep 1929 
    Children 
    +1. Evelyn Zillah Howes,   b. 8 Jul 1932, Kensington RD, London Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Abt Nov 2004, N Surrey RD, Surrey Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 72 years)
     2. Living
     3. Living
     4. Living
    Last Modified 26 Sep 2018 
    Family ID F15252  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBirth - Abt 1891 - St Aldate, Oxford, Oxfordshire Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBirth - 2 Apr 1891 - Oxford, Oxfordshire Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBirth - Abt May 1891 - Oxford RD, Oxfordshire Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - Abt Aug 1929 - Newark RD, Nottinghamshire Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 18 Sep 1929 - Newark RD, Nottinghamshire Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 28 Sep 1974 - Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, Oxfordshire Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsCremated - 2 Oct 1974 - Crematorium, Oxford, Oxfordshire Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Sources 
    1. [S476] BMD register (England & Wales) - births - multiple sources.

    2. [S29] Dictionary of National Biography, (Oxford University Press), 31258.

    3. [S1112] Who was Who, (1916).

    4. [S6] 1901 census.

    5. [S5] 1891 census.

    6. [S783] Grove's Dictionary of Music.

    7. [S35] Freebmd.

    8. [S475] BMD register (England & Wales) - marriages - multiple sources.
      available online from various sources

    9. [S475] BMD register (England & Wales) - marriages - multiple sources.