(born London, 22 Feb 1884; died London, 23 Nov 1961). English composer and pianist. Already a talented pianist at the the age of eight, he studied at the Blackheath Conservatoire, then won an Erard Scholarship to the RAM, where he studied piano and composition (1898–1905), winning all the piano and composition prizes. He taught at the Tobias Matthay Piano School and was appointed a professor at the RAM in 1909.
Thereafter he embarked on a career both as a pianist and as a composer. He performed regularly at the Queen’s Hall and later at the Royal Albert Hall. His piano playing was recognized for its technical and artistic excellence. He formed duos with the viola player Tertis and the pianist Harry Isaacs. He could also play many orchestral instruments, a fact which contributed to the mastery of his orchestral writing. During World War I he played the horn in the band of the Scots Guards.
Bowen composed over 160 works, which show a blend of Romanticism and strong individuality. Several received their premières before 1914, and his Third Symphony (1951) and Fourth Piano Concerto (1929) were performed throughout his lifetime. He won the Sunday Express Prize for March RAF (1919), Chappell’s Orchestral Suite Prize and the Hawkes and Co. Prize for Intermezzo (1920). Saint-Saëns thought him the finest of English composers, and Sorabji expressed his admiration for the piano writing of the 24 Preludes, op.102 (1938). He is commemorated by a York Bowen Prize at the RAM, and some recordings of his music have appeared on the Hyperion label.
Oxford Dictionary of Music:
English composer and pianist. He studied at the RAM (1898–1905) with Frederick Corder and Tobias Matthay, and, like his contemporaries Bax and Holbrooke, fell under the spell of the German progressives, Wagner, Liszt, and Richard Strauss. He produced three piano concertos between 1904 and 1908 (in two of which he appeared as soloist under Hans Richter at the Queen's Hall) and a fourth in 1929. There are also two symphonies and solo concertos for violin and viola. The most substantial part of his output is taken up with solo piano music, much of which he, as a virtuoso, played himself. He also wrote six sonatas (three are unpublished), suites, ballades, romances, 24 preludes in all major and minor keys, and numerous other miniatures. Bowen published two books on piano technique (1936, 1961).