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A lady of great charm | Dorothy Howell | Birmingham City Council

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A lady of great charm

Dorothy retired from the Royal Academy of Music in 1970, and in 1971 she was elected a member of the Royal Philharmonic Society. As she grew older Dorothy devoted more time to the composition of small scale sacred works, especially for the piano, voice and chamber ensemble.

Sadly the latter part of her life was clouded by illness. In her late forties she discovered she had cancer and because of this, and the general effects of growing old, she became deeply depressed. She began to perform less frequently and in her later years restricted herself to mostly local events and venues. However she was quite determined to live her life to the full, despite any setbacks or hardship and she was still giving talks, composing and teaching well into her final years.

Dorothy’s last move was to Perrins House in Malvern, where she resided for just over four years. Upset that she could not take her grand piano with her, she was delighted when one of her old pupils came to buy it. She also decided that her works and manuscripts should be discarded, but fortunately the family kept them.

On 12 January 1982 Dorothy passed away, six weeks before her 84th birthday. Her memorial service was held on 20 March 1982 at St Wulstan’s Church, Malvern, and Dorothy’s Missa Simplex and offertory motet Coeli Enarrent were sung at the service. Her wish was to be buried near Sir Edward Elgar, whose grave she lovingly tended on behalf of the Elgar Society.