Frederick DELIUS
29 January 1862 - 10 June 1934 (age 72)

Frederick Delius was an English composer but spent most of his life abroad, finally settling in France.
Grieg was a big influence on him and his music is described as romantic/impressionistic. 






Portrait of Delius


Born: Fritz Theodor Albert Delius, 29 January 1862, Bradford, England
He was baptised 'Fritz' which he used until he was 40.
Father: Julius Delius (1822-1901). German origins, Prosperous wool merchant.
Mother: Elise Pauline, née Krönig (1838-1929)
Siblings: 4th child of 14 - 3 brothers and 10 sisters!
Wife: Helena Sophie Emilie Rosen, (Jelka) (1868-1935) painter
Children: none
However there are strong theories that he fathered an illegitimate child in Florida with his black mistress, Chloe, while he was there.
Died: 10 June 1934 age 72, Grez-sur-Loing, France
Cause of death: tertiary syphilis
Grave: St Peter's Churchyard, Limpsfield, Surrey, England see findagrave


Style: Late Romantic/Impressionist
Output: considerable 
- 6 including Irmelin, The Magic Fountain, Koanga, A Village Romeo and Juliet
Choral works:
- Appalachia
- A Mass of Life
- numerous songs
- Brigg Fair
- Piano concerto
- Violin concerto
- Cello Concerto
- Violin and Cello concerto
- various incidental music and tone poems
Chamber music:
- 3 violin sonatas
- 1 sonata for piano and cello
- 2 string quartets

Delius - the Yorkshireman 
A photo gallery of his Yorkshire haunts, to the music of his Life's Dance


Age: 12 - 16: Bradford Grammar School
Age 16 - 18: International School Isleworth
AGe 18-22: Worked for his father as a representative and was sent to Germany, Sweden and France.
Age 22-23: Sent to Florida to manage his father's orange plantation at Solano Grove, Jacksonville.
While there he took lessons in counterpoint and composition from a Thomas Ward, who he said was the most useful musical influence in his life.
Age 24: Moved to Danville, Virginia where he gave private lessons of piano, violin, French and German.
Age 25-26: Moved back to Europe and enrolled in the Leipzig conservatoire. Met Grieg who recognised his talent and persuaded his father that his son should pursue a career in music.
Age 26: Moved to Paris where he was looked after financially by his uncle Theodore. Made many friends in the artistic community including Munch, Strindberg and Gauguin.
Age 40: Changed his name to Frederick intead of Fritz.
Age 41: Married Jelka
Age 52-56: First World War. Moved from Grez to the South of England.
Age 57: Returned to Grez. Began to suffer from effects of syphilis with progressive blindness and paralysis.
Age 66-70: Was able to continue composing with the volunteered assistance of Eric Fenby, a young admirer.
Age 67: 1929 A 6 day festival of his work in London, organised by Sir Thomas Beecham.
Age 72: Died at Grez. 

Eric Fenby

In his old age Delius became increasingly disabled caused by the syphylis he contracted in his youth. He also lost his sight. This made composing extremely tiring and difficult. 
A young Eric Fenby heard of his plight and volunteered to serve as his eyes and scribe until he died six years later. It was a difficult relationship and has been dramatised by Ken Russell in his biopic 'Song of Summer' (see video below)

You can read more at:
Wikipedia and at
Bill Thompson's Eric Fenby pages

Watch a TV documentary on YouTube here

The Florida Suite - By the River

A Mass of Life
The Bach Choir, interesting introduction by David Hill 

Brigg Fair 

La Calinda - Koanga

Delius Quotes

"Music is an outburst of the soul."

“There is only one real happiness in life, and that is the happiness of creating”

"Always stick to your likings - there are profound reasons for them."

"I believe that harmony is entirely a matter of instinct."

"The Negroes showed a truly wonderful sense of musicianship and harmonic resource in the instinctive way in which they treated a melody, and, hearing their singing in such romantic surroundings, it was then and there that I first felt the urge to express myself in music."

(thanks to Bill Thompson)

Ken Russell's - Song of Summer (1968) 1/5
A film by Ken Russell about Delius's final difficult years, when he was blind and wheelchairbound, and his reliance on Eric Fenby who enabled him to carry on composing.

Here are the other parts of the film: 
Part 2 (of 5)
Part 3 (of 5)
Part 4 (of 5)
Part 5 (of 5)

On Hearing the First Cuckoo of Spring

Links, sources and where to go for more information

Delius.org.uk site of the Delius Tust and Delius Society

Bill Thompson's interesting and comprehensive Delius site.

Answers.com various reference sites including Wikipedia

Guardian article by Julian Lloyd Webber

Obituary in the Times of London

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