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Mary Howe (Composer, Arranger)

Born: April 4, 1882 - Richmond, Virginia, USA
Died: September 14, 1964 - Washington, D.C., USA

The American pianist and composer, Mary (Carlisle) Howe, received training in piano from Richard Burmeister in Germany and with Ernest Hutcheson and Harold Randolph at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, where she also studied composition with Gustav Strube. She also had lessons with Boulanger.

Mary Howe lived and worked in Washington and played an important part in the life of the city. She toured as a duo-pianist with Anne Hull from 1920 to 1935. With her 3 children, she appeared with the "4 Howes" singing madrigals and early music. In 1930 she raised the money to found the Washington-based National Symphony Orchestra. Together with Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, she also founded the Chamber Music Society of Washington. In 1925 (or 1926) she with Amy Beach helped to organize the Association of American Women Composers.

Mary Howe spent several summers at the MacDowell Colony, where she composed many of her orchestral, chamber and vocal works. She was an accomplished composer of works in a tonal idiom. Her numerous compositions include over 20 large orchestral pieces, as well as a substantial body of chamber and piano music. Many of her works are orchestral tone poems, and her late Romantic musical language is richly expressive. She herself said that her "back foot is in the garden gate of the Romantics, but I feel no hesitation in thumbing the passing modern idiom for a hitch-hike to where I want to go".


Cards (1936); Le jongleur de Notre Dame (1959)

Fugue for Strings (1922); Poèma (1924); Sand (1926); Castellana for 2 Pianos and Orchestra (930); Dirge (1931); Free Passacaglia With Fugue for Chamber Orchestra (1932); American Piece: What Price Glory (1935); Coulennes (1936; also for Chamber Orchestra); Stars (1937); Paean (1940); Potomac (1940); Polka, Waltz, and Finale (1946); Agreeable Overture for Chamber Orchestra (1949); Rock (955); Stars and Sand (1963)

3 string quartets; piano pieces; choral works; numerous songs

Source: Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians (1997); Women of Note Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (March 2007)

Mary Howe: Short Biography | Piano Transcriptions: Works | Recordings

Links to other Sites

Women of Note: Mary Howe

Women in Music Festival - Eastman School of Music



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