Robert Kanzow Bowley

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Robert Kanzow Bowley (1813–1870), was an English amateur musician, and later an early music administrator.


Bowley, the son of a boot-maker at Charing Cross, was born May 13, 1813. He trained in his father's business, and succeeded him in it.

His first knowledge of music was acquired by association with the choristers of Westminster Abbey. Ardent and enthusiastic, he pursued his studies vigorously. Whilst still a youth he joined a small society called 'The Benevolent Society of Musical Amateurs,' of which he afterwards became conductor. In 1834 he was one of the committee who promoted and carried out the 'Amateur Musical Festival' at Exeter Hall. About the same time he became organist of the Independent Chapel in Orange Street, Leicester Square, and continued in that role for several years.

In October, 1834, he was admitted a member of the Sacred Harmonic Society, then in its infancy, and was soon afterwards elected a member of its committee. On the foundation of the society's musical library in 1837, Mr. Bowley was appointed its librarian. He remained the librarian until 1854, when he became treasurer, a role he retained until his death. He promoted the society's welfare and advanced its reputation. He originated the celebration of the centenary of the death of Handel, putting on performances of Handel's music on a scale of unprecedented magnitude. This eventually led to the establishment of the Handel Festivals at the Crystal Palace, again at Bowley's instigation.

In 1858 Bowley was appointed General Manager of the Crystal Palace, where he remained till his death, August 25, 1870. It has been stated that he discharged his duties in an energetic and self-devoted manner.[1][2]


  1. ^ "Bowley, Robert Kanzow" . Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  2. ^ W. H. Husk (1900). "Bowley, Robert Kanzow". A Dictionary of Music and Musicians. 1. London: MacMillan & Co., Ltd.[permanent dead link]