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Title: 'Experiments with sonata form' : a critical study of the absolute music of Herbert Howells and its place in modern British music
Author: Clinch, Jonathan David
ISNI:       0000 0004 5353 3492
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2015
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Taking its title from an essay (now lost) by the composer, this critical study evaluates and contextualizes the substantial volume of absolute music that sits outside the body of well-known church music for which Herbert Howells (1892-1983) is celebrated today. Within a narrative which is both analytical and historical, it traces and examines the essentially empirical development of his compositional processes, techniques, models and stylistic influences in detail for the first time and places it within a structure of three creative periods. In particular the study devotes attention to Howells's manipulation of formal principles across a range of instrumental genres – the solo sonata, the suite, concerted chamber music and concerto – and explores the composer's intellectualist predilection for structural compression and conflation at various architectonic levels. The discussion also focuses on Howells's use of tonality and its intrinsic, generative interrelationship with thematic material. Ultimately a case study in modernism and the British creative imagination, the thesis also examines aspects of Howells's reception history, the death of his son and the substantial BBC lecture series 'The Modern Problem', all three elements of which provide significant illumination of Howells's complex development as an instrumental composer, his musical Weltanschauung, his attitude to European contemporary music and how this adds significantly to a commentary on his own stylistic formation during a fragmented twentieth century.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available