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Delius and his Music

Delius and his Music

Martin Lee-Browne
Paul Guinery
with a Foreword by Mark Elder
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 560
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  • Book Info
    Delius and his Music
    Book Description:

    There are many biographies and articles about Frederick Delius's life (1862-1934), but there has never been a comprehensive book about his music until now. Everything he wrote, from his earliest compositions right up to the mighty A Mass of Life, is analysed here; the history and background of each work and its critical reception are all examined, set against events in Delius' life and the wider musical world. The book contains numerous music examples and quotations from many contemporary newspapers and journals. A complete list of all of Delius's works, with catalogue numbers, and a select bibliography are also provided. MARTIN LEE-BROWNE is the Chairman of The Delius Society, a former Chairman of the Gloucester Three Choirs Festival, and author of The Life & Times of Frederic Austin (1996). PAUL GUINERY is a pianist and associate of the Royal College of Music, as well a former broadcaster for BBC Radio 3 and co-author (with Lyndon Jenkins) of Delius and Fenby, A Photographic Journey (The Delius Society, 2004).

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-378-2
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Sources and Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Mark Elder

    Can there be more to say about Delius, so often regarded in the past as an eccentric, odd-ball rebel with limited craft – the ‘bad boy’ of English(?) music? Yes, I believe thatDelius and his Music, building on the substantial amount of existing knowledge about the composer’s life and music, does just that. Each work is analysed and placed in the context of his life in an entirely new and very approachable way, showing that Delius was a conscious artist, a true original and innovator who knew just what he wanted and how to achieve it technically.

    Following the...

  6. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xx)
    Martin Lee-Browne and Paul Guinery
  7. CHAPTER 1 1862–1888 Youth
    (pp. 1-25)

    When Delius was born, in 1862, music-making was flourishing in England – in cathedrals, churches, town halls, village halls and private houses. On the other hand, it was 167 years since the death of the last English composer of real note, Henry Purcell (1659–95), and the most highly regarded composers in the second half of the nineteenth century were probably Sir George Smart (1776–1869);¹ Sir Alexander Macfarren (1813–87), who wrote a vast amount of music, including nine symphonies and twenty-four operas;² Sir William Sterndale Bennett (1816–75), whose best music was for the piano; and Sir John...

  8. CHAPTER 2 1888–1892 The Young Composer in Paris
    (pp. 26-58)

    In the late 1880s and the 1890s, Second-Empire Paris was an astonishing city, full of contrasts – stunning architecture and appalling slums, great luxury and desperate poverty, an amazing mix of people – and in full artistic, intellectual and musical flow:

    The city was abuzz with a thousand scandals, with literary and poetic gatherings of the arguably avant-garde, with eventful dissident exhibitions,soiréesliberally sprinkled with cursed, damned or antiestablishment artists, and sophisticated society dinners given by well-known and admired academe painters. The Exposition Universelle of 1889, which Delius attended … particularly demonstrated the vitality of thevie parisienneand...

  9. CHAPTER 3 1893–1901 Coming to Maturity
    (pp. 59-134)

    During these next eight years, Delius wrote four operas, a piano concerto, six orchestral works and fifteen songs – and by the end of the period he had become a mature composer, with his own utterly distinctive style. However, his great problem – admittedly one that almost all aspiring composers face at the start of their careers – was actually getting anything played or published. There had been thead hocperformance ofFloridaat Leipzig in 1888, and the two professional ones ofOn the Mountainsin Norway in 1891 and Monte Carlo in 1894 – but that was...

  10. CHAPTER 4 1902–1905 The Great Noontide and Beecham
    (pp. 135-224)

    It seems appropriate now to take stock of what had happened in the rest of the musical world during the time covered by the previous chapters, and of where Delius stood at the end of it.

    Although he had been composing seriously for fourteen years, only a few of his works had been heard in public:On the Mountains, Over the Hills, theLégende, the incidental music toFolkeraadet, Mitternachtslied Zarathustras, La Ronde se dérouleandParis, with excerpts fromKoanga– all just once each (except forOn the Mountains, which had been played twice) and all, except for...

  11. CHAPTER 5 1906–1910 Acceptance and Friends
    (pp. 225-291)

    Delius continued to be an inveterate traveller – sometimes with Jelka accompanying him – happily now more often than not attending rehearsals for, and performances of, his music. In the January and February of 1906 he was in Berlin helping Oscar Fried withAppalachia; in May it was Essen for the première ofSea Drift; and in the high summer he was in Norway for the tenth time, spending over two months at Aasgaardstrand,¹ where he did a lot of walking. From September until the end of the year, however, he was at home, revising the Piano Concerto and making...

  12. CHAPTER 6 1911–1914 Inspiration Unabated
    (pp. 292-348)

    After a bad start to the beginning of 1911, by the spring Delius was beginning to recover:

    The cure in Dresden only made Fred worse – awfully thin and haggard and he only picked up in Wiesbaden and everybody thinks he looks very well now. He is working again and we take nice walks.¹

    He and Jelka left the clinic in Dresden in January, went to Wiesbaden (where they heard Schuricht conductSea Drift), and were back in Grez by the first week in March. Delius was able to receive visitors again, and Beecham came twice. In March he brought...

  13. CHAPTER 7 1915–1918 Winding Down
    (pp. 349-395)

    On top of all their other problems, Delius and Jelka’s ‘close and multilayered friendship’¹ with Ida Gerhardi now came under considerable strain. It dated back to Jelka’s and Ida’s time at the Académie Colarossi, and remained very strong until about 1902, when, for unknown reasons, Delius began to turn his back against Ida, and the friendship seriously cooled and possibly even came close to extinction. The problem, of course, was that Ida and Jelka had always been rivals for Delius’s affections, and Ida – who had very recently finished her second portrait of him – must have been devastated when...

  14. CHAPTER 8 1919–1934 Fenby and the Last Years
    (pp. 396-461)

    Ever since the Deliuses had left their comfortable home for Orléans in September 1914, they had suffered one disruption after another, but by now, despite bouts of depression and ill health, Delius had miraculously recovered the energy and inspiration he needed to go on writing. 1914 had seen the completion ofNorth Country Sketches; 1915, the Double Concerto; and in 1916, theRequiem, the String Quartet,A Dance Rhapsodyno. 2, the Violin Concerto and the Cello Sonata. Then in 1917 he finishedEventyr, revised the quartet, and wrote two of his three most beautiful partsongs – and in 1918,...

  15. CHAPTER 9 The Songs
    (pp. 462-478)

    Singers have no reason to complain that Delius neglected them. His six operas represent a substantial commitment, and the numerous works for voices and orchestra described in previous chapters cater for all sorts of vocal combinations, ranging from the epic grandeur ofA Mass of Life, to the simple intimacy of the unaccompanied partsongs. The sheer range of these scores bears witness to Delius’s abiding love for the human voice, an affection that never left him and which spanned his entire creative career.

    In addition, there are over sixty solo songs with piano accompaniment – a neglected part of Delius’s...

  16. CHAPTER 10 1934 and After
    (pp. 479-482)

    Frederick Delius died at his home in Grez-sur-Loing on 10 June, 1934, in appalling agony, with Jelka beside him in a wheelchair.¹

    Jelka herself had been very seriously ill for several months before Delius’s death, having two major operations, and on 16 May she wrote to Fenby:

    Dearest Eric

    I am afraid I am very ill; I have gone on until I could not any more … Please, Eric, be an angel and come here as quick as you can and stay with Fred and keep him company … please, dear, do not fail us

    Yours ever affly

    Jelka Delius²...

  17. APPENDIX 1 Delius’s Works in Chronological Order
    (pp. 483-496)
  18. APPENDIX 2 Delius’s Diploma and Reports from the Leipzig Conservatorium
    (pp. 497-500)
  19. APPENDIX 3 Programmes for the 1929 and 1946 Delius Festivals
    (pp. 501-504)
  20. Selected Further Reading
    (pp. 505-506)
  21. Index
    (pp. 507-524)
  22. Back Matter
    (pp. 525-525)