The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Frederick Delius

Frederick Delius (January 29, 1862June 10, 1934) was an English composer born in Bradford.

He was of German origin, and spent most of his life outside England. His father wanted Delius to work in the family wool and textile business but eventually sent him to be the manager of an orange grove in Florida. However, even there Delius continued to compose music, and he was eventually able to leave the business. Delius's latter years were marred by increasing ill-health; as a young man (possibly in Paris) he had caught syphilis, the long term effects of which were to rob him of his sight and to cause him to become increasingly paralysed and eventually confined to a wheelchair. He therefore employed Eric Fenby, who originally wrote Delius a fan letter, as his amanuensis and the great works of Delius's final years were dictated to Fenby, who later wrote a book about the experience of working with Delius. See also the film Song of Summer directed by Ken Russell based on Fenby's book starring Max Adrian as the blind composer.

Some of his more well known pieces include:

  • On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring
  • Brigg Fair
  • A Village Romeo and Juliet
  • A Mass of Life
  • Requiem
  • Koanga

Less frequently performed pieces include a violin concerto, a double concerto for violin and cello and the colourful, picturesque tone poem Paris: Song of a Great City.

Orchestral excerpts from his operas, for example La Calinda from Koanga — which originated in the 1880s Florida Suite — and The Walk through the Paradise Garden from A Village Romeo and Juliet, are also reasonably often played and recorded, as are orchestral works such as On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring. There are a number of chamber works (three mature violin sonatas and one for cello, and a string quartet).

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Last updated: 05-15-2005 02:32:14
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04