Sir Frederic Hymen Cowen was a British pianist, conductor and composer.
Cowen’s career, both as composer and conductor, is now almost forgotten. Although he regarded himself primarily as a symphonist, he was most successful in lighter orchestral pieces when treating fantastic or fairy subjects, where his gifts for graceful melody and colourful orchestration are shown to best advantage. Whether in his cantatas for female voices, his charming Sleeping Beauty, his Water Lily or his pretty overture, The Butterfly's Ball (1901), he succeeds in finding graceful expression for the poetical idea. His dance music, such as is to be found in various orchestral suites, is refined, original and admirably instrumented. Much of his more serious music is commendable rather than inspired and seldom successful in portraying the graver aspects of emotion.