Sir Frederic Hymen Cowen (29 January 1852 – 6 October 1935), was a British pianist, conductor and composer.
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.
The performance of this work will require a smooth management of the huge crescendo and decrescendo, all happening withing the scope of 2 pages. I'd never heard this before, but found it very satisfying in the feeling of culmination - the completion of the Year, marked by the arrival of Christmas morning.
This is the "alternate" version, using the Solo Glockenspiel for the "bell" part.
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!