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The Kennedy Center

Mary Howe



Biography

Born in Richmond, Virginia, Mary Howe was an American composer, pianist, and perhaps the most well known woman involved with the burgeoning musical cultural revolution in Washington D.C. during the first half of the 20th century. At the age of 18, Mary Howe entered into the Peabody Conservatory to study music, later she studied music in Dresden, Germany and later Paris, France. After marrying and having three children, she once again returned to the Peabody and graduated with a Diploma in music composition.

Her varied works included chamber music, piano music, and over 20 orchestral pieces, many of which were written during summers at the MacDowell Colony, an artist colony located in New Hampshire. Mary Howe composed for a variety of instruments including the piano; organ; cello; flute; chamber music; as well as music for choruses. Further, Ms. Howe also rewrote compositions for those various instrumental modalities. Ms. Howe played solo and duo-piano recitals privately and professionally and toured over a period of many years as part of a piano duo.

She and her husband were among the co-founders of the National Symphony Orchestra, where she served as the symphony’s first director. Ms. Howe helped found the Chamber Music Society of Washington, later known as the Friends of Music of the Library of Congress, and the Society of American Women Composers. Moreover, she was also the first woman on the faculty of New York University’s Department of Music. Late in her career, Ms. Howe served on the board of the National Cultural Center; it was later renamed the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Mary Howe

Compositions

  • Castellana for Two Pianos and Orchestra
  • Spring Pastoral
  • Paean