Dorothy Howell

Well it does to the people who post here... dispassionate and reasoned debate, with a good deal of humour thrown in for good measure.

Moderators: Dom Perignon, Casimir

Post Reply
johnquinn39
Posts: 450
Joined: Sat Mar 13, 2004 4:44 pm
Parish / Diocese: Birmingham

Dorothy Howell

Post by johnquinn39 »

PRESS RELEASE

A Birmingham Legend Rediscovered.
The life & works of Dorothy Gertrude Howell
Composer and Pianist
1898 – 1982


On Saturday 4th September 10 Birmingham Central Library’s Music Department will be proudly launching a unique exhibition of national importance tracing the life and work of Birmingham born composer Dorothy Howell.

A display of rare photographs, correspondence, press cuttings and memorabilia very generously provided by Dorothy’s family will be on show tracing the life and work of this remarkable composer and highly acclaimed performer, whose work has been sadly neglected over recent years.

Amongst music-lovers today the name of Dorothy Howell is sadly all but forgotten, but if one were to travel back in time to the post First-World-War era, and to the Henry Wood Promenade Concert season of 1919, one would witness London’s musical public being taken by storm by a young girl who had already been making a name for herself locally as a composer of great charm and distinction.

Dorothy was only 21 when her symphonic poem “Lamia” inspired by Keats’ poem was brought to the attention of Sir Henry Wood. It was given its first performance at the 1919 proms with such success that he re-scheduled several other pieces in order to perform it again. So successful was the work it was performed three more times that season and again in 1920, 1921 and 1926. To say that her talent as a composer was discovered overnight would be a gross understatement.

This exhibition hopes not only to capture the significance and value of her life’s work, but to also give an insight into her life. She constantly brought happiness, hope and joy to those she knew. She thoroughly enjoyed life, and believed in living it to the full. She was an invaluable source of knowledge and musical inspiration to those she taught, keeping her sense of fun and great humour till the very end.

As part of this year’s BBC proms two Henry Wood tribute concerts are being broadcast on Sunday 5th September. The evening concert features works either dedicated to or otherwise associated with him. Dorothy Howell’s Lamia has been chosen for performance at the evening concert, and we are proud here in Birmingham to have original materials and correspondence on display to promote this event.

The launch of the exhibition will feature live performances of some of her solo piano pieces, piano duets and works for violin and piano. Her niece and nephew who have so generously given up so much of their time to help produce this exhibition will be on hand between 10:00 am – 4:00 pm to answer any questions. The exhibition runs throughout the month of September.

For further information please contact Ursula Colville (Birmingham Music Library) on 0121 303 2482/2448 or email ursula.colville@birmingham.gov.uk

dmu3tem
Posts: 254
Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2005 3:11 pm
Location: Frozen North

Re: Dorothy Howell

Post by dmu3tem »

Many thanks for posting this notice. Yes, she was a significant composer of Catholic Church music - very good vocal line. I ran across some of her compositions in the course of my research. Carys published some items in (I think) their 'Contemporary Church Music' series. I also believe she contributed some Responsorial settings to the Gelineau Psalms edited by Dom Gregory Murray. Stanbrook Abbey had some Mss copies of her works that I saw (I think she was an oblate there). At least one I think was recorded in their CD 'Transfiguration'.
T.E.Muir

User avatar
musicus
Moderator
Posts: 1605
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2003 8:47 am
Location: UK
Contact:

Re: Dorothy Howell

Post by musicus »

A few years ago I had the pleasure of meeting a member of the Howell family at her home in Bewdley to talk about Dorothy's work. I thought then, and think still, that the SSG owed it to her and to itself to put something on record in Music and Liturgy. The entire family is very interesting, and there are others on this forum who far much more about them than I do. Dorothy was known for much more than her church music, of course, as this extract from the Music-Web International website makes clear:

"DOROTHY HOWELL (1898-1982), born in Birmingham is now buried in the same churchyard as Elgar, at St. Wulstan's, Malvern. She studied at the Royal Academy of Music between 1914 and 1919 where she later taught for 46 years prior to 1970. Her Piano Concerto in D Minor, much praised, and a symphonic poem, Lamia, were performed at the Henry Wood Proms when she was still in her twenties. Her Phantasy in G Minor and Sonata in F Minor, both for violin and piano, achieved success and she also published some church music. But much of her output is light in style, and she did write tunes. The orchestral Three Divertisements (1940, not performed until 1950) and the much earlier ballet Koong Shee (1923) enjoyed some popularity as did sundry unison and two part songs suitable for children as are the (piano) Pieces For the Bairns. Shorter pieces, for violin and piano, like Rosalind and Moorings, for solo piano (e.g. Spindrift, with its beautifully transparent texture, Humoresque (this was orchestrated) and Alla Mazur) and for two pianos - Mazurka and the Recuerdos Preciosos (Precious Memories) are all approachable and reckonable as light. The Christmas Eve suite of 1927 is performable either by string orchestra or string quartet."
musicus - moderator, Liturgy Matters
blog

Alan
Posts: 82
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2005 1:52 pm
Parish / Diocese: Holy Redeemer Pershore [Birmingham Archdiocese]
Location: Malvern, UK
Contact:

Re: Dorothy Howell

Post by Alan »

The music staff at the Birmingham Central Library would like to mark the end of their temporary exhibition about Dorothy Howell with a short impromptu concert, featuring some of her liturgical music. I have been invited to try to assemble a small group of singers for this event, which will take place in the Central Library next Saturday 16 October. There will be a rehearsal at 1.30pm, followed by a short break, then a short public recital at 3pm, which will probably last about 40 minutes.

The motets and mass settings (SATB and unison) are not especially difficult, so, if anyone here would like to come along and join our small choir, please send me a Private Message and I will provide you with fuller details and copies of the music. If we can't muster enough singers, then it may not happen - but it would be good to try.

Please respond ASAP as time is short.

Thanks

Alan Smith

Alan
Posts: 82
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2005 1:52 pm
Parish / Diocese: Holy Redeemer Pershore [Birmingham Archdiocese]
Location: Malvern, UK
Contact:

Re: Dorothy Howell

Post by Alan »

Well, I've drawn a blank on this so far, but let's have one last attempt. One each of S, A, T & B would do it!

Alan
Posts: 82
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2005 1:52 pm
Parish / Diocese: Holy Redeemer Pershore [Birmingham Archdiocese]
Location: Malvern, UK
Contact:

Re: Dorothy Howell

Post by Alan »

We've had to postpone - but we'll try again in September 2011. As soon as I have the precise dates I will post again.

Southern Comfort
Posts: 1920
Joined: Sat Feb 23, 2008 12:31 pm

Re: Dorothy Howell

Post by Southern Comfort »

Could we not perform a piece of her liturgical music at the SSG AGM Mass this year?

I seem to remember that some of her later liturgical works were published by St Martin's Publications, but I could be wrong. Did she not write a Mass setting for the 1966 Mass texts? Is there anything else we could sing?

I am sure that Clifford Howell and Petroc Howell would approve. And so would Crichton and other former SSG greats.

User avatar
musicus
Moderator
Posts: 1605
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2003 8:47 am
Location: UK
Contact:

Re: Dorothy Howell

Post by musicus »

Nice idea, but I think the music for that occasion has already been planned. But next year might be better anyway. I hope to investigate DH's liturgical music more closely over the next few months and it may be that I will turn up some lost treasures. For example, I think she composed a Mass setting for the SSG.
musicus - moderator, Liturgy Matters
blog

Post Reply