Frederick Delius

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Frederick Delius (dēl´yəs), 1862–1934, English composer, of German parentage. Influenced by Grieg, Delius combined romanticism and impressionism in his music, which is characterized by rather free structure and rich chromatic harmony. From 1886 to 1888 he studied in Leipzig, where his suite Florida (1887) was first performed. His works were appreciated earlier in Germany than in his native land, but recognition in England did come in his later years. Among his finest works are the orchestral pieces Brigg Fair (1907), On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring (1912), and North Country Sketches (1914). The best of his six operas is A Village Romeo and Juliet (1907). Outstanding also are his choral works Sea Drift (1906); A Mass of Life (1909), with text from Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra; and Song of the High Hills (1920). He also composed chamber music, concertos, and songs. In the 1920s Delius became blind and paralyzed but continued to compose and revise with the assistance of an amanuensis, Eric Fenby. His last public appearance was in London in 1929 at a six-day festival of his works organized by Sir Thomas Beecham.

See biographies by C. Delius (1935), Sir Thomas Beecham (1959, rev. ed. 1975), G. Jahoda (1969), and A. Jefferson (1972).

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Delius, Frederick (1862–1934). Composer. Born in Bradford (Yorks.) of German descent, Delius spent most of his life abroad. As a young man he worked in Florida and for many years was domiciled in France, yet his music often evokes a sense of the English landscape. He rejected traditional formalism and as a disciple of Nietzsche believed that the artist's primary duty was to fulfil himself in life and art. His greatest music depicts the beauties of nature and the transience of human life with poetic imagination and a mastery of orchestration. His most popular pieces are short and idyllic, such as On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring or Brigg Fair, but in Appalachia and A Mass of Life he wrote superbly on a large scale. In his final years he was blind and paralysed but was able to continue composing through the devoted assistance of Eric Fenby, his musical amanuensis.

John W. Derry

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Delius, Frederick (1862–1934) English composer. He combined elements of Romanticism with impressionism, most notably in orchestral pieces, such as Brigg Fair (1907) and On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring (1912). His interest in nature is evident in the operas A Village Romeo and Juliet (1901) and Fennimore and Gerda (1910).