Bell considered himself little more than a cultivated amateur, but he brought to his writing a high level of perception and a richness of experience that few people in the field could match at that time. He had met Tchaikovsky and had heard performances by Clara Schumann, Liszt, Brahms, Saint-Saëns, and others. An ardent Savoyard, he had attended all the premieres of the Gilbert & Sullivan operettas from The Mikado on. In another person, such a background could have led to a patronizing attitude towards the musical life of Montreal in the years after World War I. Bell's writings, however, did not condescend, and he missed no opportunity to praise merit, even while discerning faults. It is probable that Bell composed throughout his life, but his known compositions postdate World War II. Like his gentle watercolours, they were done for the pleasure of doing: Bell had no ambitions as either a composer or a painter. In spite of this, 'Love's Philosophy' (1945, one of his 16 known songs) was published by BMI Canada, and his Sonata for violin and piano (1946) was performed by Ethel Stark and John Newmark for the CBC IS. Bell also composed eight Interludes for piano during the 1950s.
Author Eric McLean
H.P. Bell, 'The Montreal Orchestra,' Montreal Music Year Book 1931 (Montreal 1931)
'Review of 1931,' Montreal Music Year Book 1932 (Montreal 1932)
'Quebec musicians meet in festival,' Curtain Call, 11, Apr 1940