Lamia

Dorothy was only 21 when Lamia was given its first performance at the Proms by Sir Henry Wood. The work was such a success that it was played five times that season and was soon being heard all over England. Her remarkable scoring shows a particular talent for the use of brass instruments.

Lamia proved so popular with the conductor and the audience, that after its first performance on Wednesday 10th September, 1919 at Queen’s Hall, London, it was repeated four times more in that season and then again in 1920, 1921 and 1926. The score was also published by Novello in 1921.

An article in ‘Musical Opinion’ magazine in December 1927 reported that “The publication followed, and instantly proved how sure Miss Howell’s touch was in scoring for the orchestra. She has a grand manner: and, in a department where a composer shows his genius or lack of it (the brass), she is most eloquent”.

The press were very complimentary; The Globe headlined “Girl Composer’s Success” and The Daily Express published “Girl Composer’s Triumph” success and fame in a night. The Daily Sketch described her as “The English Strauss” and ran the exclusive “Our New Composer at Home”.

After the performance Dorothy returned to her home in Stourbridge with her parents. Though reporters and photographers followed her like early paparazzi, she remained amazingly unaffected by this sudden success, as shown by the humour in her letters and diaries.

In December 1920, The Birmingham Festival Choral Society staged a performance of Lamia which was conducted by Sir Henry Wood. The programme and correspondence which relate to this concert have been preserved in the family archive.

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