Sir Frederic Hymen Cowen (29 January 1852 – 6 October 1935), was a British pianist, conductor and composer.
He was born Hymen Frederick Cohen in Kingston, Jamaica, coming to England at the age of four. He studied the piano with Julius Benedict, and composition with John Goss, organist of St. Paul's Cathedral. As a young man, he achieved great success as a concert pianist.
By the Autumn of 1865 it was the judgment of his instructors, Benedict and Goss, that he study in Germany. He attended the Leipzig Conservatorium. Cowen, studying with Moritz Hauptmann (harmony and counterpoint), Ignaz Moscheles (piano), Carl Reinecke (composition) and Ferdinand David (ensemble work).
After the success of several works, Cowen began to be recognised as primarily a composer, his talents as a pianist being subordinate, although his public appearances were numerous for some time afterwards.
Cowen's career, both as composer and conductor, is now almost forgotten. Although he regarded himself primarily as a symphonist, he was most successful in lighter orchestral pieces when treating fantastic or fairy subjects, where his gifts for graceful melody and colourful orchestration are shown to best advantage.
Cowen received honorary doctorates from Cambridge and Edinburgh in 1900 and 1910 respectively, and was knighted at St. James's Palace on 6 July 1911.
"The Months" is a setting of "Twelve Sketches for Pianoforte", published in 1912. The last movement, "December - Christmas Morn" was transcribed for organ by the famous John E. West (1863-1929), and published by Novello in 1917. It is a dignified, regal procession, without any frivolity or Christmas goodies. Several times in the work, we seem to hear the great bell tolling the measure of our lives and marking the passing of time.
Please see the First Comment for musical notes.
The score is attached below, as well as two photos of Cowen and one of West.
Peace and Blessings to All, and Happiness and Safety in the New Year!