Young and Matured Henry Cowell with his music note.
 
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Henry Cowell: Mind over Music

Quite apart from compositions and piano playing and the whole world of music, there is another world in which Cowell is notable. By sheer accident of time and place he was one of the earliest subjects in Lewis M. Terman's Stanford-Binet studies of intelligence and the development of the Intelligence-Quotient (IQ) as a means of grading general intelligence. Terman's The Intelligence of School Children (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1919) devotes a chapter to "Forty-One Superior Children" in which the fortieth is "Henry. Illustrating the relative independence of IQ and schooling. Scientific ability overshadowed by musical genius. Extreme poverty." Some scattered passages (from p246-51) may serve here to present Ter- man's views on Henry, and in particular his assessment of the boy's mental powers:

As a near neighbor boy. Henry has been under our observation since the autumn of 1910. At that time he was a little more than 12 1/2 [recte 13 1/2] years of age. He was tested at 14 1/2, earning the mental age of 19 (IQ 131). Although the IQ is satisfactory, it is matched by scores of others among our records; but there is only one Henry.

Henry had never been to school except for a few months when he was 6 years old. He lived in a little shanty with his semi-invalid mother and was the sole source of income for the support of her and himself. He tramped often to the mountains in search of rare wild flowers which he brought home and sold in beautiful bouquets to people who knew him. Sometimes he weeded lawns or did garden work for his neighbors. For some years also he served as janitor for a little rural school near his home. His earnings rarely amounted to more than $15 a month, but somehow he and his mother managed to live on this amount.

Shortly after Henry started to school, at the age of 6 years, he was one day seized on his way home from school with a strange muscular paralysis. He fell to the ground and had to drag himself home. Chorea set in, from which he suffered severe recurrent at- tacks for years. Except for occasional twitchings, he had fairly recovered at the age of 14. and somewhat later his recovery was practically complete. On account of this ner- vous tendency, however, his mother did not see fit to send him to school, nor did she give him much formal instruction at home. She talked with him endlessly, read to him occasionally, and sometimes he read to her. They discussed religion, politics, and mat- ters of literature and art. We have a list of over 300 books which Henry had read before he was 14 years of age, also bulky notes of extensive conversations which we had with him on such questions as socialism, atheism, scientific problems, etc. At 14 he discussed these matters with greater breadth of knowledge and much deeper understanding than the average university senior. No less striking was his ignorance in certain school sub- jects. His spelling was wretched, and he had studied no formal arithmetic above the four fundamentals and simple fractions.

As a boy of a dozen years. Henry's appearance was odd and interesting in the extreme. His speech was quaint, and rather drawled and stilted; his face was childish, but he looked at you with eyes that seemed utterly void of self-consciousness; his clothes were
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Henry Cowell: Mind over Music