A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Bowley, Robert Kanzow
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BOWLEY, Robert Kanzow, the son of a boot-maker at Charing Cross, was born May 13, 1813. He was bred to 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 so 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 now magnificent musical library in 1837 Mr. Bowley was appointed its librarian, an office which he held until 1854, when he was chosen treasurer, which post he occupied until his death. During the entire period of his connection with the society he laboured incessantly to promote its welfare and advance its reputation, and instigated most of the steps which have tended to place it in its present high position. The scheme of celebrating the centenary of the death of Handel by performances of his music on a scale of unprecedented magnitude, and which eventually led to the establishment of the Handel Festivals at the Crystal Palace, was originated by him. In 1858 he was appointed General manager at the Crystal Palace, in which post he proved himself to be undoubtedly 'the right man in the right place,' and where he remained till his death, August 25, 1870. The energetic and self-devoted manner in which he discharged his duties will be long remembered by all who were associated with him.
[ W. H. H. ]