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Fredrick Delius


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Fredrick Delius


Delius was born in Bradford, England, but he never spent much time there. He spent his early years working in the family wool business and later running an orange-plantation in Florida. After that he went on to study music in Leipzig. Delius settled down with his wife, Jelka, in France. First in Paris, then later in Grez-sur-Loing where stayed the rest of their lives, with the exception of the WW1 years where they stayed in the UK.

The British Music Society's book "British composer profiles" says this about Delius:

Born at Bradford of German parents, Fredrick Delius started a career in his father's wool business, using his supposedly commercial trips to Germany, Scandinavia and France to further his musical education. After a period in Florida as an orange grower Delius, aided by Grieg, persuaded his father to send him to Leipzig, where he studied with Sitt and Reinecke. He settled in France, first at Paris, then at Grez-sur-Loing, where he remained for the rest of his life, cut off from the English musical world except for his close friendship with younger admirers such as Philip Heseltine and Percy Grainger.

Delius' music belongs to no particular school and, although accepted in Germany, was not received well in this country (UK) until it was adopted enthusiastically by Sir Thomas Beecham, who championed it for the rest of his life. Among Delius compositions are operas (Koanga, A village Romeo and Juliet, Fennimore and Gerda, Irmelin, The magic fountain and Margot la Rouge), symphonic poems, concertos for piano, cello, violin and violin & cello, works for voice and orchestra, chorus and orchestra and other orchestral pieces, songs, instrumental works and the A Mass of Life, claimed by many to be his finest works. Delius' last few years were spent blind and bedridden, his last compositions made possible only trough the patient dedication of his friend and amanuensis, Dr. Eric Fenby (1906-1997).

I have asked myself several times, why do I like Delius and what made me notice him. I can't give a good answer to that question. I just like his music very much. My first Delius CD was a Naxos CD with orchestral music (8.553001). It's a very good CD with some of his most famous music (Paris, Brigg Fair, Eventyr, La Calinda from Koanga and Prelude from Irmelin). It's not until recently that I have got much of his music. It does help that it has been released several excellent CDs with his music the last few years.

Fredrick Delius

I would also like to tell you a little about the Delius Society. . They have a very good journal that is published several times each year + a newsletter once in a while. The Society also have its own web site.  Delius' music is not as known as it deserves to be, so this Society is needed to promote it. If you are interested in joining the Delius society, go here.

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Copyright © 2004 Tore Frantzvåg Steenslid
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