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Inventory of the Winifred Bliss Howe Papers, 1922-1986
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content Note

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Winifred Bliss Howe Papers,
    Date: 1922-1986
    Collection number: ARCHIVES HOWE 1
    Extent: Number of containers: 2 cartons

    Linear feet: 2.7
    Repository: The Music Library
    Berkeley, California 94720-6000
    Shelf location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    March 1991


    Barbara Scherrer and Philip Scherrer



    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Winifred Bliss Howe Papers, Archives Howe 1, The Music Library, University of California, Berkeley


    American pianist, critic, and educator. Winifred Bliss Howe(1904-1990) was the daughter of Henry Warren Howe and Katherine McFarland Howe . At the age of one, her father committed suicide, leaving her mother to bring up her sister, Katherine Howe(later Jones, 1894-1971), and Winifred. A brother, Warren, died at the age of 10 (1900-1910). Her uncle left money for the two sisters for college. Winifred attended Mills Collegefrom 1922 (August) to 1924 (May). She then went to England to study with Tobias Matthay (1858-1945) and to Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979) between 1924 and 1927. She met and fell in love with the noted musicologist, Arthur Mendel(1905-1979), who was then a fellow student of Nadia Boulanger.Their romance lasted until the early 1930s even though Mendelwas living in New York, and she was in living in California most of that period.
    After her studies abroad, she taught at the Colorado Woman's Collegein Denver for a year (1927-28) before moving back to California. She became Ernest Bloch's (1880-1959) assistant in 1928 while he was teaching at the San Francisco Conservatory. Howeand Arthur Mendel arranged Bloch's America for a 4-hand piano version which Blochperformed with Howe. (The arrangement was apparently never published. The manuscript is at the possession of Howe's grandnephew, Philip Scherrer). Between 1934 and 1936, she was music critic for the Monterey Peninsula Herald.She was also very much involved with the Carmel Bach festival ,serving as accompanist and publicist manager when it started in 1935, and was still an active participant in the 1960s. She obtained both bachelor's and master's degrees (AB, 1940, MA, 1941) from the University of California (Berkeley)and taught in the Music Department until 1959, retired at the rank of assistant professor. After her retirement, she and some close friends, including Alice Harwood (Topsy) and Helen Poindexter(Poindie) embarked on a world tour from October 1959 to June 1961.
    Although Howe never married, she had a three-decade on-and-off affair with Ernest Bloch. Much of her mature musical career involved Bloch. They performed together, and she was the support and advisor of his many performances including the premiere of his opera, Macbeth in Rome. She was probably considered part of his family as Bloch's daughters, Suzanne and Lucienne, had contact with Howe until her death. After her retirement, Howe moved to Carmel area with close friend (and Mills College roomate) Alice Harwood. Howe died in 1990 in Walnut Creek (Rossmoor).

    Scope and Content Note

    The materials in this archive span the years 1922 and 1986. The majority of the materials, however, are from the 1920s and 1930s. Correspondence made up the bulk of the archive; they are letters between Howe and her mother, and letters between Arthur Mendeland Howe. Other materials include some photographs, letters and telegrams from Bloch (many other letters from Bloch were donated to the library by Howe in 1987 but are sealed until the year 2000). There are also writings by Howe when she was a music critic for the Monterey Peninsula Herald in the 1930s.