Totally agree. The opening of the North Country Sketches is strongly influenced, surely, by that of Debussy's La Mer; Debussy's and Ravel's harmonic fingerprints and touches of orchestration are all over Delius's music from Brigg Fair onwards.
Originally Posted by Lateralthinking1
This is a good example of how easily we create myths and legends. Eric Fenby was a fine musician, who played an important role as Delius's amanuensis for the last six years of his life (that is 1928-1934). What he achieved was remarkable, and we have six Delius works to prove it. They are:
Originally Posted by Lateralthinking1
A Song of Summer
Caprice and Elegy
3rd Violin Sonata
Songs of Farewell
But none of this represents the core of Delius's achievement. That had all come between 1877 (Florida Suite) and 1923 (2nd Violin Sonata), with the really major works being from the first 20 years of the century. Fenby is so well known to us for three reasons, I suspect - he wrote one of the early biographies (Delius As I Knew Him), Ken Russell made a lovely film of that book, and Fenby lived on until 1997, a popular speaker and great enthusiast. Those of us who are not committed Delians tend to know only Fenby's portrait of him (often through the eyes of Ken Russell) and little more.
RVW employed an amanuensis, Roy Douglas, from 1942, yet he has a smaller place in the Vaughan Williams story than Fenby has in Delius's. I think that is largely because RVW's music was seen as less 'specialist' than Delius's; because Roy Douglas's story is less romantic that Fenby's; and because Ken Russell didn't film it. It's not because of the music produced. The last 16 years of RVW's life saw five symphonies and The Pilgrim's Progress, to mention nothing of the other works.
Last edited by Pabmusic; 25-05-12 at 08:32.
Surprisingly this has not been corrected on today's programme page.
Originally Posted by VodkaDilc
Well, I was pretty impressed by tonight's docu. The fact that Elgar and Delius corresponded in their last days was news to me.
It was good, wasn't it? Elgar and Delius had known each other on and off since the early 1900s, but in 1933 they started a correspondence that might have grown, had it had time. Elgar even visited Delius at Grez - the only time he flew.
Originally Posted by Serial_Apologist
After an hour I felt no more interested in Delius than I was before, so I switched off. I may watch the rest on iPlayer today. I do normally admire John Bridcut's work.
an enjoyable programme I thought with lots of music extracts, the Fenby part of his life losing all the significance I had attached to it. I liked the sequence where each contributor said whether they considered Delius an English composer - no agreement whatsoever.
It may be of some interest to read some of the Elgar-Delius correspondence (the bit quoted in the film was actually from an article by Elgar in the Daily Telegraph about their meeting). I've tried not to make it too long.
It begins about a week after their meeting:
[Elgar]: I wish you would think out (I tremble in making the suggestion) some small composition suitable, as regards difficulty, for small orchestra – Your ‘Cuckoo in Spring’ is naturally very much loved and is within the capacity of the smaller organisations – we did it in Worcester which…boasts no great equipment. I want three movements – any poetic basis you like… : you cannot help being a poet in sound…I look back to last week with the greatest pleasure – my meeting with you was the ‘clou’ of my days in Paris… [6.6.33]
[Elgar]: I am supposed to be improving and want to share a few more years with you and hear your ‘brave translunary things’ and to see and talk once more with the poet’s mind in the poet’s body – you in fact [13.10.33]
[Delius]: Your beautiful letter gave me the greatest pleasure and I treasure it…[He has been listening to records]…Introduction and Allegro has always been a special favourite of mine and yesterday we had Falstaff. What a magnificent work it is, so greatly conceived, so full of life and in its changing moods so human, vigorous and natural…When I hear accounts of all your friends visiting you, how I long to be among them! [10.12.33]
[Elgar]: …your second consignment (most welcome) of the barley sugar of the holy and sanctified manufacture arrived to-day and it is the most beautiful sweetmeat I have ever tasted [it was made to a secret recipe by the nuns of Moret-sur-Loing]…I am keenly interested in your coming visit to London...I wish Sir Thomas [Beecham] would give us Paris and the Mass of Life again. It has been a matter of no small amusement to me that, as my name somewhat unfortunately is indissolubly connected with ‘sacred’ music, some of your friends and mine have tried to make me believe that I am ill-disposed to the trend and sympathy of your great work. Nothing could be farther than the real state of the case…[25.12.33]
[Delius]: The other day a niece of mine who has been staying with us went back to England and we gave her a box of Sucre d’Orge to post to you…We often play the records of your works which Mr Gaisberg sent us. The Nursery Suite I did not know. It is charming: the Aubade is a gem…We both send you our New Year’s Greetings and the best of wishes! [4.1.34]
[Jelka Delius to Eric Fenby, after news of Elgar’s death]: Why [the press] all wanted Fred’s opinion I cannot see. He was furious, of course. For poor Elgar it was best that it ended. He must have suffered terribly and was quite drugged in the end. We have a lot of records of his now. Falstaff is splendid. [25.2.34]
Last edited by Pabmusic; 26-05-12 at 10:31.
I suppose I could be generous and say that the programme was "interesting."
However, I found the ramblings by various conductors (especially the one listening to recordings and getting a bit orgasmic) rather tedious and Beecham seemed rather opinionated and had a rather high opinion of himself.
As for the music, well, I've never rated it very highly, but having said that, there is much I haven't heard, even though I played quite a lot (of the popular works) in symphony orchestras quite a while ago.
Thank you for posting those extracts Pabmusic, they illustrate the (largely unknown) mutual respect and affection the two composers held for each other.
Nowadays it is rare that documentaries have the content that justifies their length, but this was an exception. It avoided the better known details of Delius' life and was candid in revealing his multi-faceted character. The stifling atmosphere of his childhood clearly generated his free-spirit, which he exercised in full.
I especially enjoyed Andrew Davis' and Mark Elder's contributions, who were clearly moved when listening to the music. All contributions were thoughtful and illuminating. Love him or hate him, Delius is a singularity and attempts to pigeonhole him by nationality miss the point. An excellent programme, catch it while you can.