One of the most gratifying experiences to witness at our concerts is when audience members come from a distance to meet our musicians they have known in the past. Last month, an old colleague of Danny Driver came all the way from Sheffield (by train for the day) to hear him and two other people came from Bewdley – they had heard Danny play at the age of seven, when they realised that he had the hands to play Rachmaninov! They were sister and brother, Merryn and Columb Howell, niece and nephew of Dorothy Howell, and custodians of the Dorothy Howell Trust.
On our website archive and in our Newsletter of September 2010, we published an article about Dorothy Howell (1898-1982), who had been remembered in two national events that month. These were a performance of her orchestral composition, Lamia (1918) at the BBC Proms and an exhibition and live performances of her music at Birmingham Central Library. Born in Birmingham, Dorothy Howell spent her last 34 years in Malvern Wells, continuing to compose and perform with distinction. Her one and only recital for the Club was on 17 March 1951. She tended the grave of Sir Edward Elgar in St Wulstan’s churchyard for several years, and is herself buried near Elgar.
Danny Driver and the conductor Rebecca Miller had previously met Merryn and Columb Howell in preparation for their recording with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra of Dorothy Howell’s Piano Concerto (1923), included on a 2017 Hyperion CD of works by women composers. This is available from Hyperion Records (ref CDA68130) where you can link to Danny’s other recordings, which regrettably he was unable to bring to Malvern last month.
A final drop of serendipity: in 115 years MCC has presented only six recitals featuring the works of Nikolai Medtner. One of these was by Dorothy Howell and one by Danny Driver.