29. Frederick Delius [365 Composers for 2013]


29th January – Frederick Delius


Delius (29th January 1862 – 10th June 1934) is our composer for 29th January, to celebrate the day of his birth
Nationality: British
Lifespan: 72 years
Genre: 20th Century
Education: Leipzig Conservatoire
Fame Ranking: 3

Born into a family with fourteen children to a wool merchant from Bradford in the north of England, Delius was not at first destined to have a musical career. His father expected him to follow in his footsteps in the wool trade, but Delius had other plans. He neglected his business duties and instead spent his time submerged in music. His family were keen on music, and often spent the evening in musical activity, sometimes with rather distinguished guests such as Joseph Joachim, one of the most famous violinists of the 19th century. When Delius’ father realised that his son was not going to take up the family trade, he supported him by financing his musical studies abroad.

Delius travelled extensively. After some time in Florida, Delius went to Germany to study and then moved to France, where he spent most of his adult life. On his arrival in France, Delius enjoyed the rather insalubrious lifestyle on offer in Paris, which unfortunately led to his contracting syphilis – a disease which was to paralyse him and send him blind in his later life. In Paris however, there was a vibrant musical community to take part in, and it was here that Delius’ compositions began to become more widely known.

It was still several years before Delius’ music was to become popular back on his home soil. Not until the early 20th century was his first work performed in the UK, but once he got his foot through the door he achieved substantial success. Sir Thomas Beecham, one of the UK’s finest ever conductors, became an instant fan of his music and conducted many of his pieces.

Delius’ style is unique. He matured over the years and although he has been influenced by many sources, from African American spiritual music through Grieg, Wagner and Debussy, the end result is a style which is just Delius. Some of his most acclaimed compositions are “A Mass of Life”, “Appalachia” and “A Village Romeo and Juliet”.

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Here is Delius’ beautiful “A Winter Landscape”:

Listen to more works by Delius – click the box!





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