New CD of the Week | Essential Delius

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Celebrating the Sesquicentennial of Frederick Delius's birth, with a 2-disc set: Essential Delius.

Delius was born in the north of England to a prosperous family in January 1862.   As a young apprectice in his father's business, Delius felt a growing frustration with business life, and at age 22, persuaded his father to let him try his hand at cultivating oranges in Florida. His plantation, Solano Grove, was some hours upstream from Jacksonville on the banks of the St. John's River. Once there, he quickly secured a piano and found a local source for theory lessons. Influenced by African-American music, he began composing.

Shortly after, his father gave in to the request for a full musical education and Delius enrolled at the Leipzig Conservatorium where he studied from 1886-1888.


On leaving Leipzig, set on the course of his life's work, he went to Paris, and then to Grez-sur-Loing where he remained until his death in 1934.

The lyricism in Delius's early compositions reflects both the music he heard in America and the influences of European composers such as Edvard Grieg, Richard Wagner and Claude Debussy. He later developed a style uniquely his own, characterized by his individual orchestration and his use of chromatic harmony. After 1918 Delius began to suffer health problems and eventually became paralysed and blind, but he completed some late compositions with the aid of an amanuensis, Eric Fenby.

Delius’s music is often linked to nature, and this 2-disc set covers a number of his most popular short pieces that reflect this, including 'On Hearing The First Cuckoo In Spring', 'Summer Night On The River', 'A Song of Summer' and 'Late Swallows'. From his opera A Village Romeo and Juliet comes the beautiful orchestral interlude, 'The Walk to the Paradise Garden'.  We also hear the Intermezzo from the opera Fennimore and Gerda.


New CD of the Week | Essential Delius


See previous CDs of the Week here.