Frederick Delius MP3, CDs & Vinyl, Music of Frederick Delius

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Frederick Delius MP3, CDs & Vinyl, Music of Frederick Delius

Frederick Delius: Overview

Frederick Delius: Frederick Delius (b. Bradford, 29 Jan 1862; d. Grez-sur-Loing, 10 June 1934).

Frederick Delius was the son of a wealthy Prussian industrialist who had settled in Bradford, and was destined by his father for a similar career. Early travel in Europe (particularly in Scandinavia) instigated rebellion, and in 1882 Frederick Delius left home to assume control of an orange plantation in Florida. Here he experienced a kind of spiritual awakening crystallised in the form of the sound of close-harmony Negro singing wafting one summer night over the St John River; and Frederick Delius realised that music, not grapefruit, was to be his life. For a short time he studied with a local musician from whom he claimed to have learned more in the space of a few months than in the entire three years' systematic instruction at Leipzig which he subsequently undertook. Here, however, he met Grieg, and began to compose prolifically if unoriginally. From 1888 to 1897 he lived in Paris where his circle consisted more of painters, poets and writers (predominantly Scandinavian) than of musicians.

Frederick Delius married a painter, Jelka Rosen, and in 1897 settled permanently in Grez-sur-Loing, a tiny hamlet a few miles from Fontainebleau. For many years, however, he continued to travel widely in Europe and Scandinavia. Only as the composer approached the age of forty, did a definite musical personality begin to assert itself. The derivative water-colourist of the orchestral Florida Suite, the opera Koanga and a host of songs, orchestral pieces and chamber works (most of negligible interest) suddenly began to paint in oils: the orchestral Paris - the Song of a Great City ( 1899) Appalachia (1902) and the opera A Village Romeo and Juliet (1901) testify most strikingly to the new accession of creative power. Frederick Delius gained much valuable technical knowledge from a concert of his works given at his own expense in London in 1899, but his music began to gain a foothold in England only after the arrival upon the scene of Sir (then Mr) Thomas Beecham in 1907. Meanwhile Germany showed herself particularly receptive, and of the succession of masterworks which flowed from Frederick Delius' pen in this the happy prime of his life - A Mass of Life (1905), Seadrift (1903), Brigg Fair (1907), and In a Summer Garden (1908) - few failed to find ready performance and acclaim there.

The Deliuses spent the war years in England and Norway, and Frederick Delius's music began to grow increasingly Northern or Nordic in inspiration - A Song of the High Hills for orchestra and wordless chorus (1911), Event yr for orchestra (1917), Requiem (1916) and A rabesk (1911) both for chorus and orchestra, and the opera Fennimore and Gerda (1910) after a novel by one of Frederick Delius's favourite authors, the Danish J. P. Jacobsen (who wrote Arabesk and also Gurrelieder). From the early 1920s his creative activities were brought gradually to a halt by the onset of blindness and general paralysis, the result of syphilis contracted in the 1890s. With the help of his wife and Percy Grainger he was able to complete the incidental score for the London production of Flecker's Hassan in 1920; but in 1928, though totally incapacitated, he was able to resume work through the medium of an extraordinary young Yorkshireman, Eric Fenby, who offered his services as amanuensis. In addition to realising a number of scores left in varying stages of completion (A Song of Summer, Idyll, Cynara and others) Fenby also enabled Frederick Delius to complete a substantial new work for double chorus and orchestra, the Whitman-inspired Songs of Farewell (1931). In 1929 Sir Thomas Beecham organised the first London festival entirely devoted to Frederick Delius's works (the second took place in 1946) with the composer in attendance. He died at his home in France but was later disinterred and re-buried in a South of England churchyard.

Frederick Delius was one of the few true cosmopolitans in music; many countries and cultures contributed to the making of him, but he never settled in or belonged to any. Rural France became his nominal base, but even here, and even in the heart of Paris where he bade farewell to his youth, he reverted constantly to those scenes which had critically influenced his spiritual development: America {Appalachia, the opera Koanga completed in 1897,) Norway, the country he loved best of all (A Song of the High Hills) the Yorkshire moors of his childhood (Over the Hills and Far Away, 1892; North Country Sketches, 1914). Although he produced a number of abstract works, particularly in later life (concertos for piano, violin, 'cello, violin and 'cello, three violin sonatas, one 'cello sonata) Frederick Delius's overriding preoccupation throughout his work is nature. He is the supreme poet of nature in her tranquillities; large-scale tone-poems such as Brigg Fair and In a Summer Garden no less than the exquisite miniatures On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring and Summer Night on the River (191 1-12) or the two wordless choruses To be sung of a summer night on the water all reflect the idyllic situation of Grez-sur-Loing and the nearby Forest of Fontaine-bleau, haunts beloved of the Impressionist painters to whom Frederick Delius himself was greatly drawn. He has been categorised as a 'romantic of the Impressionist school'; his musical forbears were primarily Chopin, Grieg and Wagner, although less orthodox catalysts (Victorian hymnody and Negro folksong) are also identifiable. In all cases harmonic opulence is the common denominator, and Frederick Delius's harmonic language is personal to himself, though frequently imitated. In his literary loves too he was cosmopolitan: his favourites were Nietzsche (Also sprach Zarathustra was an all-conditioning influence on Frederick Delius's life and mind and the literary basis of his 'Mass of Life) Whitman whom he set in Sea-drift and the Songs of Farewell, and Jacobsen who has strong affinities with the Swiss Gottfried Keller, begetter of A Village Romeo and Juliet.

Frederick Delius was a wanderer in sequestered byways, one who had all the time in the world to 'stand and stare', and his was a refined and laser-keen sensibility. His harmonies and colours have been prostituted by many a commercial hack, but nothing can affect the staying-power of the prototype in which the soul of natural beauty and the terrible reality of its impermanence are life-enhancingly juxta-posed.

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Frederick Delius: MP3

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