Herbert Howells (1892-1983) was one of the most significant English composers of the 20th century. His contribution to the musical repertoire of the Anglican church is immeasurable, and his organ works, are all classics in their own right.
The stark, almost neo-classical nature of "Partita" probably comes as something of a shock to anyone familiar with the Howells of the first set of Psalm Preludes. Originally entitled "Sonata in Division", it became "Partita" between its completion at the beginning of September 1971 and its presentation on the 28th of September to its dedicatee, The Rt. Honorable Edward Heath Prime Minister.
Many years earlier, Howells had promised to write Heath (then organ scholar at Balliol College Oxford) a piece should he ever become Prime Minister. Almost as soon as Heath arrived in Downing Street in 1970, Howells began writing.
By definition, a "saraband" is a stately court dance of the 17th and 18th centuries resembling the minuet. The music for the saraband is in slow triple time with accent on the second beat of the bar. In this respect, Howells' "Sarabande", which is the 4th movement of the "Partita" is a work admirably fits the definition. Notice also the influence of composers like the great Tudor master, Thomas Tallis. It was the combination and juxtaposition of old and new that was so much a part of the music of Howells.
And now, for the BONUS QUESTION!
Why did Howells right this work "for the 12th day of any October"?
Get the answer right, and win a valuable prize!!! :-)