Howells not only made the composer's personal acquaintance that evening, but (as he often recounted) the piece, the Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, profoundly moved him. Later he studied at the Royal College of Music under C.V. Stanford, Hubert Parry, and Charles Wood. In 1915 he was diagnosed with Graves' disease and given six months to live. Since doctors believed that it was worth taking a chance on a previously untested treatment, he became the first person in the country to receive radium treatment.
He was briefly assistant organist at Salisbury Cathedral in 1917, though his severe illness cut this appointment short. Friends then arranged for a grant from the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust, under which Howells would assist Richard Runciman Terry in editing the voluminous Latin Tudor repertoire that he and his choir were reviving at Westminster Cathedral. Although they were envisioning an undemanding sinecure, Howells took great interest in this work, absorbing the English Renaissance style which he loved and would evoke in his own compositions, and continued it until joining the faculty of the Royal College of Music in 1920. During World War II, he served as acting organist of St John's College, Cambridge. He died on the 23rd February 1983.
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