The information below is quoted from: A Record of the Jews in Jamaica, Jacob A. P. M. Andrade, Kingston, Jamaica, 1941, pp 150-1
Sir Frederic Hymen Cowen. Knt., (a form of Cohen) - Mus. Doc., English Musical Composer and Conductor. Born at Kingston, Jamaica, on January 29th, 1852, at the house at present numbered 90 Duke Street, S.E. corner of Charles Street. At the age of four he was taken to England, where his father had become Treasurer of the Opera of Her Majesty’s and Drury Lane Theatres; and Private Secretary to the Earl of Dudley.
He commenced to show his remarkable aptitude for music from an early age, composing a Waltz (Minna Waltz), when about six years old, and operetta entitled Garibaldi, at eight, and a symphony at seventeen. He was educated in London, and studied music under Sir Julius Benedict - a Jew - and composition with Sir John Goss. He continued his musical studies at the Conservatoires of Leipzig and Berlin, having among other masters, Moscheles (a Jew), Hauptmann, Reinecke and Plaidy.
His first public appearance, when he was about nine years of age, was as accompanist to a singer who sang one of his songs; and his first public recital as a pianist when he was eleven. Since 1869 his claims as a composer have been generally acknowledged. He is the composer of many songs, some of which have become very popular, a number of Cantatas, Suites; six Symphonies, among which No. 3, the ‘Scandinavian”, has had the greatest success; four Operas “Pauline (1876)”, “Thorgrim (1890)”, “Signa (1893)”, and “Harold (1895)”; and several overtures and oratorios.
On 1st January, 1934, he completed a new work for full orchestra, founded on Longfellow’s poem about a magic cup “The Luck of Edenhall”. Cowen represents the new and promising School of Composition, which has sprung up in England in recent times - a type of music not ultra modern, but still full of an increasing freedom, while yet retaining enough of the old classical forms to take a stronger hold of the conservative public than is possible with the newer music. Cowen was specially summoned to Australia as conductor of the Melbourne Centennial Exhibition in 1888/89. In 1889 he was one of the examiners of the Faculty of Music of the London University.
On Thursday, 7th February, 1929, after an absence from the Island of seventy-three years, Sir Frederic returned on a visit. He was presented at the Institute of Jamaica that afternoon with two addresses, one by the Board of Governors; the other accompanied by a souvenir in the form of a manuscript Music Holder made of native wood (mahoe), inlaid with Braziletto root , Yacca and Satinwood (the Silver Plate was cut to represent Jamaica) by music lovers in the Island. His Set I of “the Language of Flowers,” composed in 1890, was played at the Ward Theatre on 12th idem. The late Mrs. E. N. deMontagnac (Clara Myers), whose forebears were Jews, was the Conductress. For a short time he was the President of the Maccabeans: they dined him on January 15, 1899.
Dr. Cowen remembers being told that he read the portion of the law beautifully on the occasion of his Bar Mitzvah. He has for very many years been a Member of the Upper Berkeley Street, W. (Reformed) Synagogue. His sister Henrietta, won some distinction on the stage.