Leonard N. Fowles

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Leonard Fowles, 1904

Leonard Nowell Fowles (6 October 1870 – 18 January 1939) was an English organist and choirmaster, classical music composer, arranger, teacher, adjudicator and conductor,[1] best remembered for his hymn tunes "Golders Green" and "Phoenix".

Early years and education[edit]

Fowles was born on 6 October 1870, at Portsea Island near Southsea, Hampshire, to Helen Nowell and Albert Godwin Fowles.[2] His father, a native of the Isle of Wight, was a highly regarded professor of music and a free church organist; his mother was born on Jersey, the Channel Islands. His was a musical family. Fowles' paternal aunt, Miss Margaret Fowles, was organist and choir director at the important post of St. Michael’s Church, Hyde, the Isle of Wight, and thereafter served as the conductor of the Letchworth Orchestral Society, Letchworth Garden City.[3][4] His younger brother Bernard Fowles was also a noted musician.[5]

Fowles was raised in comfortable circumstances. Having mastered the keyboard and the violin, at the age of fourteen Fowles went to study at the Brussels Conservatory. In 1887, he was awarded the Whitcomb Scholarship for solo violin at the Royal College of Music. He studied at Oxford in the years 1896-1899. In November 1899 Fowles became the youngest Doctor of Music in the United Kingdom.[6]

Musical career[edit]

In 1896 Fowles became the organist and choirmaster of St George’s Presbyterian Church of West Croydon, a post which he held until 1904 when he was invited to serve as the organist and choir director of the Presbyterian Church in St. John's Wood, London.[6][7] Fowles served as president of the Free Church Musician's Union in 1917,[8] and as an examiner in the London College of Music from 1908 through 1920.[9]

Grave of Fowles in Twickenham Cemetery in 2014

In September 1899, Fowles was married to the former Ethel Hattie Phillips.[10] He died on 18 January 1939 and was buried 24 January 1939, in Twickenham Cemetery, Richmond, London, Section, G. Grave, 151 fourth row.[11] The epitaph on his gravestone states, "Music was his life".

Selected works[edit]

  • Phoenix (C.M.D.)
  • Golders Green ([12][13]
  • Viola sonata (with piano) in B (No. 2)[14]
  • Calvary (A Cantata)[15]
  • "A Short Litany of Intercession for our Soldiers and Sailors" with words by J. J. Priestley. Publisher: G. Schirmer (London). Published in 1915.[16]
  • College Minuet: (Madame de Beaufort)[17][18]
  • "Romany Rye" Copyright 1935[19]
  • 2 Sketches for the Organ (Intermezzo and Serenata) (copyright 1914 by Weekes of London)[20]
  • "A Memory" for violin and piano (©1913) or for organ (©1917)[21]


  1. ^ The Musical Times, Volume 49 (February 1, 1908) p. 118
  2. ^ His gravestone in Twickenham Cemetery states he was born on 6 October 1870 in Portsmouth, and died on 18 January 1939 in Whitton.
  3. ^ Musical News (1899) p. 235
  4. ^ A. W Brunt (1942) Pageant of Letchworth, p. 97
  5. ^ The Violin Times: A Journal for Professional and Amateur (1897) p. 124
  6. ^ a b The Nonconformist Musical Journal (1904) p. 22
  7. ^ The Nonconformist Musical Journal, Volumes 17-18 (1904) p. 46
  8. ^ The Musical Times, Volume 57; page 284
  9. ^ The Musical Times, Volume 49 (October 1, 1908) p. 627
  10. ^ London England Marriages and Bans 1754-1921
  11. ^ London Borough of Richmond upon Thames[dead link]
  12. ^ Baptist Hymn Book, Hymns and Trust, 1962
  13. ^ "Golders Green", eHymnBook
  14. ^ The Year’s Music, p. 95. (1898) J.S. Virtue & Company, Ltd. Premiered at the Queen's (Small) Hall, London by Alfred Hobday (violin) and the composer (piano), Dec. 16 1896
  15. ^ Catalog of Copyright Entries: Musical Compositions, Part 3, by Library of Congress. Copyright Office, 1911; page 4615
  16. ^ The catalogue of printed music in the British Library to 1980, Volume 22, British Library. Dept. of Printed Books, Laureen Baillie, 1983. ISBN 0-85157-900-0
  17. ^ Fowles, Leonard N. 1926, composed by Victor A. Filmer ; arranged and edited by Leonard N. Fowles. Catalog of the National Library of Australia
  18. ^ Also see OCLC 222763274.
  19. ^ Catalog of Copyright Entries: Musical Compositions, 1935. Part 3; by Library of Congress. Copyright Office, page 89. Can be viewed at Archive.org.
  20. ^ OCLC 497222271
  21. ^ OCLC 497222233 as a violin solo with piano, OCLC 497222244 - in "The Organist Recital Series" - for organ.