Printed Score of Pageantry (1934),
A Suite in 3 Sections for Brass Band, composed by
Prof. Herbert Howells, CH CBE
In 1934, Herbert Howells, Collard Fellow of the Worshipful Company of Musicians (Click Here for further detail on Howells), was commissioned by Pastmaster J Henry Iles to compose a Brass Band Suite, which Howells entitled Pageantry. It was first performed on 3rd September 1934 in Manchester.
In an online article entitled: 2009 Spring Festival - Test Piece review: Pageantry, dated 7 May 2009, Iwan Fox, editor of the website 4barsrest.com, said this piece was "One of the true masterpieces of the Brass Band movement". He also commented on the origins and performance history of the work and the following information is to be found there.
Pageantry comprises three sections: 'King's Herald', 'Cortège'' and 'Jousts' and was written for the 1934 British Open Championships, although the second section was omitted on that occasion. Early sketches show that the last section was originally titled 'Prentices' Dance'.
The Sunday Chronicle Challenge Trophy was won on this first occasion by the Brighouse and Rastrick Band conducted by William Halliwell.
Described by Fox as "..a most severe test of musicianship for players and conductors alike..." Howells’ approach was far more symphonic or orchestral than was the norm in the brass band world of the 1930s. Pageantry has been used as a Test Piece at Brass Band Championships on several subsequent occasions.
In 1937 Howells adapted the score of 'King's Herald' to be used a a fanfare prelude for the Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth and in 1995 some controversial amendments were made to the score by Philip Wilby, at the request of the publishers, the then Novello and Chester Brass Band Series.
Shown right is a letter from Howells to the Clerk, Brigadier Crewdson on 5 June 1934 regarding the composition and dedication of Pageantry to the Company. Its receipt was recorded in the Court Minutes for 10 July 1934 and was partially transcribed thus:
"...I want you to know that the Suite for Brass Band that I have composed for the National Competition at Belle Vue, Manchester is now in course of publication. I should much like you to ask the Court's permission to dedicate the work to the Worshipful Company of Musicians and to Mr Henry Iles, Past President [sic] and to hope that Mr Iles and members of the Company will regard my wish to inscribe the work to them as in some small sense an expression of my gratitude to them for their kindness in all things relating to the Fellowship."
The whereabouts of the composer's manuscript is not known (although the RCM does hold some of Howells' pencil sketches from December 1933 and January 1934). However, a printed copy of the full score is held by the Musicians' Company and confirms the dedication to J.H.Iles and to the Company itself that Howells requested of the Court in the above letter. The first movement from this score is shown below - click on an image to expand and scroll through.