Delius, Frederick

Delius, Frederick dēlˈyəs [key], 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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