Herbert Howells was born in Lydney, Gloucester on 17 October 1892. At the age of eighteen he became a pupil of Herbert Brewer, Organist of Gloucester Cathedral. In 1912 he was awarded a scholarship to the Royal College of Music and studied under Charles Villiers Stanford, Walter Parratt, Charles Wood and Hubert Parry. In 1920, after ill-health forced him to relinquish his position as sub-organist of Salisbury Cathedral, Howells returned to the RCM to teach composition, an occupation which was to interest him until the end of his life. Howells also taught at St Paul's Girls' School, Hammersmith, and, in 1950, was appointed King Edward VII Professor of Music at London University.
After writing his choral work Hymnus Paradisi, much of it derived from the Requiem for his son who died in infancy, he turned largely to church music with a series of compositions setting Mass texts and Canticles, most notably the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis. Over twenty settings are known of which the settings for King's College, Cambridge (Collegium Regale), St Paul's and Gloucester Cathedrals are among the finest. Herbert Howells died in London on 23 February 1983 at the age of 90.
Evening Canticles - Choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge
The Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis were probably the ultimate musical form for Howells - he produced a string of evocative, haunting settings of these paired canticles for various cathedrals. Here the choir of Selwyn, Cambridge really bring out the heart and the subtlety of this remarkable music.
Requiem - Choir of St John's College, Cambridge
St John's Cambridge give an excellent interpretation of Howells' Requiem, and throw in a Mag & Nunc (St Pauls), a Communion service (Collegium Regale), various organ pieces and one of Howell's most delightful anthems, the very moving Like As the Hart. Not only this, but it's a bargain price CD.