Despite having written nearly 200 works, including 20 orchestral pieces, three string quartets, choral and chamber works, and numerous songs, Mary Howe (1882–1964) is best known as a music activist. A co-founder of both the Society of Women Composers and the National Symphony Orchestra, Howe promoted the work of her music colleagues and helped elevate the Washington DC music scene to international renown. She toured extensively as a member of a piano duo with Anne Hull and formed a professional vocal group with her children, The Four Howes. Yet, it was through the lens of her work as a composer that she most profoundly interacted with the world.
“When I began to compose, I felt I had the right to be there doing it, because what I worked on was myself.”
Howe’s music unites romantic sensibility and formal structure with 20th-century idioms.
“I have realized that the way I like music, the way I work at music and the way I hear music reaches back and reaches forward simultaneously…spanning and bridging.”
While her orchestral music was often performed during her life, many of Howe’s works for smaller ensembles remain unpublished. BETWEEN US: MUSIC FOR TWO BY MARY HOWE is the first non-archival recording of her Sonata for Violin and Piano, as well as the premiere recording of duo works for cello, flute, mezzo-soprano, and piano, including two new arrangements for viola and piano.
BETWEEN US features members of the Oklahoma State University Greenwood School of Music faculty. Like Howe, we span and bridge multiple roles as artists, activists, teachers, mothers, and partners. We, too, “use the chinks of time [to work] and fill each day to the brimming.” Mary Howe’s career stands as a symbol of collaboration and integration—the blending of the public and private spheres of life.
— Laura Talbott-Clark