April 4, 1882 - September 14, 1964
composed during the Modern period
An underappreciated and rarely heard American original, Mary Howe was born in Richmond, VA, on April 4, 1882. She studied piano with Ernest Hutcheson and Harold Randolph and in Germany with Richard Burmeister, a pupil of Liszt. Her composition teacher at Peabody Conservatory was Gustave Strube, the first conductor of the Baltimore Symphony. After receiving her composition degree from Peabody in 1922 she traveled to Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger, who was just then beginning to teach composition.
Mary Howe was also active as a pianist, appearing in solo concerts and in two-piano concerts with Anne Hull, and in chamber music performances. She also served as vice-president of the Friends of Music of the Library of Congress, and was a member of the Board of Directors of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. She died in 1964.
Rock: Symphonic Poem lasts just over 11 minutes, but is a work of considerable instrumental grandeur. Yet, while utilizing traditional musical language, it never becomes romantic or affected. Granite it may not be, but strong and towering it definitely is, and its richness and power comes from a restrained and informed musical gift.
Mary Howe's prominent orchestral works include Poema (1924), Sand (1929), Dirge (1931), Coulennes (1936), and the suite Potomac. Other scores include the ballet Cards, which predated Coulennes by a year, Castellana for two Pianos and Orchestra (1935), and Spring Pastorale for solo violin and 13 instruments (1936). She also wrote songs, choral works, and chamber and piano compositions.
Rock: Symphonic Poem has been recorded by the Richmond Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jacques Houtmann. It is still available on vinyl from Opus One (#100). ~ Philip Krumm, Rovi