Author Topic: Frederick Delius  (Read 124622 times)

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Offline André

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Re: Frederick Delius
« Reply #860 on: January 18, 2020, 08:38:24 AM »
Yesterday I hesitated to post my thoughts on the question. Elusiveness is part of Delius’ composing mind, so characteristics of style are hard to pinpoint.

I’m glad Roasted Swan posted his comment, to which I absolutely concur. ‘Transient beauty’, ‘preserve the moment of ultimate beauty’ nails it very well, indeed perfectly IMO. In this regard Delius was an obsessed man, and in the end if his mind and his music go in circles, well it's a circle of beauty in all its variations.

The Nocturne section of Mass of Life and Sea Drift epitomize this as much as the other works mentioned.

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Frederick Delius
« Reply #861 on: January 18, 2020, 10:59:30 AM »
Excellent post, Roasted Swan. You've given me a lot to think about, and these words may contain the key to what is drawing me into Delius' music. When you talk about transient beauty, this is a very fascinating aspect of life on earth to me, perhaps the most fascinating, and it is also one of the most difficult things to capture in art. To relate to a very different composer, I think something similar is at the core of Brahms' music, this transience, only captured in a different way (more long-form, snapshots of a lifetime through many different moments – whereas perhaps Delius is capturing only one of these moments in a given work?–in some of his music, I feel like he is trying to capture or recreate a single memory.)

Anyway, I think the idea of capturing a single moment like this, in stillness, perhaps, is a very Modernist idea, and indeed something to come right out of its time and place. But I'm starting to think that Delius' music is greater than I thought. I shall have to spend a lot more time with it over the years, but for now, I'm glad that at least I do not hate it anymore  ;D

I wonder why you say "artist, NOT composer". Could you spell it out for me?

Oh, and re: Mackerras, I will have to give him another shot.

Thanks again for the most enlightening words!

The reason I say Artist is in the sense of someone absorbed by the Arts.  Some composers you (well I do!) imagine functioning wholly and exclusive in the sphere of music.  Delius was part of that time when literature influenced art influenced music etc and I suspect that Paris (as with Vienna at the same time) was an extraordinary place to be where all the Arts "cross pollinated".

Andre's mention of Sea Drift and the Nocturnes in the Mass are good shouts.  I always twitch a bit when someone says a particular composer is "bad" since the frame of reference is never set.  Mirror Image is a percussionist so he doesn't like Delius - a perfectly understandable point of view.  I have a friend who spent 30 years as harpist in a major British Orchestra - hated Elgar because they feel Elgar writes badly for the harp (I have no idea I will take their word for it).  But if you turn that argument around - how well did a composer achieve their set goal - then the measure of "good" or "bad" must shift.  I believe that Delius achieved what he himself set out to do.  He never chose to write a set of Preludes and Fugues or a standard Symphony so why compare to composers who did?!

The question about his music "needing" editing by Beecham is a proverbial barrel of worms.  Mark Elder - I'm pretty sure it was him! - in a TV documentary was pretty scathing about the choices Beecham imposed on the music - I seem to remember him referencing Sea Drift.  Of course it is not as extreme as say the early editions of Bruckner with the "improvements" sincere but misguided.  But I do wonder if Beecham "smoothed" out some of the edges and muscularity in Delius.  Beauty can still be cruel......

Offline André

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Re: Frederick Delius
« Reply #862 on: January 18, 2020, 01:46:16 PM »
Some worthy videos to watch/hear on Youtube

- Fenby’s testimony on his years with Delius. Approx one hour.
Part one:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWO58FmUANU

Part two:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGeXyy2V8PM


The superb docu-fiction film by Stanley Kubrick, with Fenby again, this time portrayed by an actor (actually a principal dancer from the Royal Ballet) :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMMqkb1WKpg


A performance of Sea Drift at the 2012 Proms, with Bryn Terfel, conducted by Mark Elder (in two parts), with the text in subtitles:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zBisvlTp00


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgeq5uUH29w


A film of A Village Romeo and Juliet - Thomas Hampson is excellent as the Dark Fiddler :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwI0BfXRuDE
« Last Edit: January 18, 2020, 01:49:44 PM by André »

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Frederick Delius
« Reply #863 on: January 18, 2020, 08:26:35 PM »
The reason I say Artist is in the sense of someone absorbed by the Arts.  Some composers you (well I do!) imagine functioning wholly and exclusive in the sphere of music.  Delius was part of that time when literature influenced art influenced music etc and I suspect that Paris (as with Vienna at the same time) was an extraordinary place to be where all the Arts "cross pollinated".

Andre's mention of Sea Drift and the Nocturnes in the Mass are good shouts.  I always twitch a bit when someone says a particular composer is "bad" since the frame of reference is never set.  Mirror Image is a percussionist so he doesn't like Delius - a perfectly understandable point of view.  I have a friend who spent 30 years as harpist in a major British Orchestra - hated Elgar because they feel Elgar writes badly for the harp (I have no idea I will take their word for it).  But if you turn that argument around - how well did a composer achieve their set goal - then the measure of "good" or "bad" must shift.  I believe that Delius achieved what he himself set out to do.  He never chose to write a set of Preludes and Fugues or a standard Symphony so why compare to composers who did?!

The question about his music "needing" editing by Beecham is a proverbial barrel of worms.  Mark Elder - I'm pretty sure it was him! - in a TV documentary was pretty scathing about the choices Beecham imposed on the music - I seem to remember him referencing Sea Drift.  Of course it is not as extreme as say the early editions of Bruckner with the "improvements" sincere but misguided.  But I do wonder if Beecham "smoothed" out some of the edges and muscularity in Delius.  Beauty can still be cruel......

I do wonder what Delius’ music would sound like had Beecham not scribed his corrections in the scores. I do still think highly of Songs of Sunset and believe this to be Delius’ crowning achievement. Perhaps I was a bit harsh towards his music earlier. I think the problem with his own original manuscripts was there were nothing indicating how he wanted his music to be performed (i. e. no tempo markings, no accent marks, whether he wanted pianissimo here or there, etc.). This makes it difficult to determine how to play his music. I think the early championing that Beecham did had positive and negative effects. The positive was obviously more listeners became aware of this composer’s music, but the main negative is Beecham’s editions are what are now the standards for these works. Only when Elder recorded Sea Drift did he decide to start over again from scratch and forget Beecham’s suggestions. I personally don’t understand how a composer could not explain how he wanted his music to sound. There’s a video of Beecham where the interviewer asked him if he ever discussed the music with Delius and he said no because he couldn’t tell him anything about them. One of the important jobs of any composer is to make sure the notation is up to par for the performer, otherwise, it’s nothing more than notes on a sheet of paper, but also get his ideas across to the conductor (if said composer is still living of course). The documentary that everyone should see is one in which you mention but not by name, Composer Lover Enigma by John Bridcut (his Britten, RVW, and Elgar documentaries are all excellent). I think vers la flamme should see this documentary for a better understanding of the composer.
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Offline vers la flamme

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Re: Frederick Delius
« Reply #864 on: January 19, 2020, 04:27:21 AM »
^Awesome, I'll have to check it out. Do you know if there's anywhere it can be watched online?

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Frederick Delius
« Reply #865 on: January 19, 2020, 07:34:38 AM »
^Awesome, I'll have to check it out. Do you know if there's anywhere it can be watched online?

I can’t seem to find it. The documentary was actually renamed to The Pleasures of Delius.
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Offline André

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Re: Frederick Delius
« Reply #866 on: January 19, 2020, 09:31:04 AM »
I can’t seem to find it. The documentary was actually renamed to The Pleasures of Delius.

It’s gone from youtube. We discussed it exactly a year ago on this thread. I would have put it along with the other youtube suggestions in my post above if it had been available. It’s really excellent.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Frederick Delius
« Reply #867 on: January 19, 2020, 03:41:25 PM »
Good to hear Brigg Fair on the radio this morning.
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Frederick Delius
« Reply #868 on: January 20, 2020, 07:55:14 AM »
It’s gone from youtube. We discussed it exactly a year ago on this thread. I would have put it along with the other youtube suggestions in my post above if it had been available. It’s really excellent.

If I’m remembering correctly, it’s under a strange name and it could very well still be on YouTube. Of course, I own the DVD of this Bridcut documentary, so I don’t have any use for it, but it would be nice to find to be able to link for other members to view.
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Frederick Delius
« Reply #869 on: January 20, 2020, 11:29:19 AM »
Probably because he paints instead of ‘composes’ if you get my drift. I had a strong Delius phase many years ago and he was even my favorite composer at one point, but this was before I ‘saw the light’ so to speak and realized that he wasn’t as endearing and musically inventive as Debussy (and so many others around this particular time). Karl Henning once said that “Delius was a poor man’s Debussy”. I soon realized that this criticism wasn’t far-fetched. One of the problems with Delius’ music for me, besides its general one mood atmosphere, is you can tell that the music wasn’t carefully thought out and this is backed up by his avoidance of making notational tempi markings or giving the perform any kind of instruction on how he wanted the music to sound. In fact, there were no guidelines in any of Delius’ music. Sir Thomas Beecham, an ardent champion of the composer, edited a lot of his manuscripts and added in a lot of technical information that Delius failed to put into the music, which I thought was interesting because now I’m hearing more of Beecham’s ideas than the composer’s own. The more I started reading about Delius, the more I started realizing what a poor composer he was. Also, he couldn’t write a rhythm to save his life and me being a former percussionist finds this to be a fatal flaw in his music. It’s just a lot of rhapsodizing and then ‘poof!’ the work is over. It took me quite some time to come down from the clouds to admit I was wrong about Delius, but nowadays, I’m more than happy to point out what I have a problem with and why I believe he’s just not a good composer.

I think I understand why I have had such a strong period for dislike for Delius: it mainly stems from what other people are telling what I should be hearing instead of relying on my own likings and dislikings as a listener. I think I was pretty nasty (and unfair) to Delius by calling him a poor composer. He certainly wasn’t a poor composer. It’s important for me to understand that like any of my favorite composers, he was his own man and he created his music in his own way. I look at much of his music as a form of sonic poetry or aural painting. The form isn’t really important, but there are themes in his music that run the course of entire pieces and these themes are ran through as many possible variations as one could imagine. I think, like nature, the change over the course of time in Delius is what’s the most compelling in his music. I still refuse to align him to any country. You can hear England, France, Germany, Norway, and America throughout all of his music. In the John Bridcut documentary, The Pleasures of Delius, the idea of pleasure and the immediacy of this pleasure was an ideal that was upheld by the composer until the very end of his life (even when he was paralyzed and bound to a wheelchair, he still gained much pleasure in every day life despite being in constant pain). The sound of nature is what Delius achieved more than any other composer and whether one responds to this or not wasn’t a great concern for him. He wrote the music he wanted to and didn’t give in to what was fashionable and what was trendy and I admire his courage for doing what he wanted.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2020, 11:32:50 AM by Mirror Image »
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Offline vers la flamme

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Re: Frederick Delius
« Reply #870 on: January 20, 2020, 11:52:21 AM »
I think I understand why I have had such a strong period for dislike for Delius: it mainly stems from what other people are telling what I should be hearing instead of relying on my own likings and dislikings as a listener. I think I was pretty nasty (and unfair) to Delius by calling him a poor composer. He certainly wasn’t a poor composer. It’s important for me to understand that like any of my favorite composers, he was his own man and he created his music in his own way. I look at much of his music as a form of sonic poetry or aural painting. The form isn’t really important, but there are themes in his music that run the course of entire pieces and these themes are ran through as many possible variations as one could imagine. I think, like nature, the change over the course of time in Delius is what’s the most compelling in his music. I still refuse to align him to any country. You can hear England, France, Germany, Norway, and America throughout all of his music. In the John Bridcut documentary, The Pleasures of Delius, the idea of pleasure and the immediacy of this pleasure was an ideal that was upheld by the composer until the very end of his life (even when he was paralyzed and bound to a wheelchair, he still gained much pleasure in every day life despite being in constant pain). The sound of nature is what Delius achieved more than any other composer and whether one responds to this or not wasn’t a great concern for him. He wrote the music he wanted to and didn’t give in to what was fashionable and what was trendy and I admire his courage for doing what he wanted.

I have to say, your change of heart is jarring. From that post deriding Delius' music to now changing your avatar and signature in dedication to his music in two days is a pretty quick 180. ;D But I'm happy to see you seem to be giving his music another chance. I think there is plenty of value there to be had in his works. I really do need to catch that documentary, it sounds fascinating.

I like that you seem to be abiding by Delius' words in that quote you've chosen for your signature. I think that is true as well.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2020, 11:57:43 AM by vers la flamme »

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Frederick Delius
« Reply #871 on: January 20, 2020, 01:21:22 PM »
I have to say, your change of heart is jarring. From that post deriding Delius' music to now changing your avatar and signature in dedication to his music in two days is a pretty quick 180. ;D But I'm happy to see you seem to be giving his music another chance. I think there is plenty of value there to be had in his works. I really do need to catch that documentary, it sounds fascinating.

I like that you seem to be abiding by Delius' words in that quote you've chosen for your signature. I think that is true as well.

Well, this has been more or less my relationship with Delius over the past couple of years. I think it’s best to put what other people think about a composer you love out of your mind. Yes, there are reasons as to why we love the music we love and to question that love is beyond silly, although I’m certainly guilty of trying to figure out how I truly feel about Delius’ music. I’m a listener who ‘goes with the flow’ and it seems this is exactly what Delius had in mind. I think he knew that there would be listeners that would never like his music and I think this is certainly true for many to this day.
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Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Frederick Delius
« Reply #872 on: January 20, 2020, 01:35:04 PM »
I have to say, your change of heart is jarring.

For the veterans here, it isn't jarring at all but simply MI being MI. He does this all the time (going from intense dislike to rapturous fan, and not only with Delius). It's one of the things we love about John ;D :D ;D


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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Frederick Delius
« Reply #873 on: January 20, 2020, 01:45:58 PM »
For the veterans here, it isn't jarring at all but simply MI being MI. He does this all the time (going from intense dislike to rapturous fan, and not only with Delius). It's one of the things we love about John ;D :D ;D


Sarge

:P It’s certainly not something I love about myself. Why, oh why must I do this all the time?!?!? I go around and around with myself until I just give up and listen to another composer altogether. :)
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Frederick Delius
« Reply #874 on: January 20, 2020, 02:30:40 PM »
For the veterans here, it isn't jarring at all but simply MI being MI. He does this all the time (going from intense dislike to rapturous fan, and not only with Delius). It's one of the things we love about John ;D :D ;D


Sarge

I agree with Sarge.
Although sometime our good friend John, if my memory is correct, goes from rapturous fan to intense dislike. Wasn't this the case with Tubin? One moment he was listening to everything by the Estonian composer and then suddenly he announced that he would 'NEVER LISTEN TO ANYTHING BY TUBIN EVER AGAIN!' (He will correct me if I'm wrong). Fortunately my friendship with this extremely thoughtful and generous GMG stalwart has remained much more consistent.
 ;D
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Frederick Delius
« Reply #875 on: January 20, 2020, 02:45:15 PM »
I agree with Sarge.
Although sometime our good friend John, if my memory is correct, goes from rapturous fan to intense dislike. Wasn't this the case with Tubin? One moment he was listening to everything by the Estonian composer and then suddenly he announced that he would 'NEVER LISTEN TO ANYTHING BY TUBIN EVER AGAIN!' (He will correct me if I'm wrong). Fortunately my friendship with this extremely thoughtful and generous GMG stalwart has remained much more consistent.
 ;D

I appreciate your kind words. Your memory is spot-on, Jeffrey. Oh, and I’m back to hating Delius again. :P I just can’t listen to another note! Ughh! I mean every work just blends together and he still couldn’t write a rhythm, which isn’t a complete slight on the composer, but I get tired of his rhapsodizing about cuckoos, spring, and summer nights on a river. ;)

P.S. I like Tubin more than Delius! That’s for sure. :)
« Last Edit: January 20, 2020, 02:55:33 PM by Mirror Image »
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Frederick Delius
« Reply #876 on: January 20, 2020, 03:20:40 PM »
I think I understand why I have had such a strong period for dislike for Delius: it mainly stems from what other people are telling what I should be hearing instead of relying on my own likings and dislikings as a listener. I think I was pretty nasty (and unfair) to Delius by calling him a poor composer. He certainly wasn’t a poor composer. It’s important for me to understand that like any of my favorite composers, he was his own man and he created his music in his own way. I look at much of his music as a form of sonic poetry or aural painting. The form isn’t really important, but there are themes in his music that run the course of entire pieces and these themes are ran through as many possible variations as one could imagine. I think, like nature, the change over the course of time in Delius is what’s the most compelling in his music. I still refuse to align him to any country. You can hear England, France, Germany, Norway, and America throughout all of his music. In the John Bridcut documentary, The Pleasures of Delius, the idea of pleasure and the immediacy of this pleasure was an ideal that was upheld by the composer until the very end of his life (even when he was paralyzed and bound to a wheelchair, he still gained much pleasure in every day life despite being in constant pain). The sound of nature is what Delius achieved more than any other composer and whether one responds to this or not wasn’t a great concern for him. He wrote the music he wanted to and didn’t give in to what was fashionable and what was trendy and I admire his courage for doing what he wanted.

Whatever I was on when I posted this is beyond me. ??? Anyway, please just ignore this post (which all the veteran members probably have already ;)).
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Offline Symphonic Addict

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Re: Frederick Delius
« Reply #877 on: January 20, 2020, 03:51:27 PM »
Your constant change of mind is disquieting to say the least.  ;D :P
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Frederick Delius
« Reply #878 on: January 20, 2020, 04:46:52 PM »
Your constant change of mind is disquieting to say the least.  ;D :P

 :P

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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Frederick Delius
« Reply #879 on: January 20, 2020, 08:54:23 PM »
I appreciate your kind words. Your memory is spot-on, Jeffrey. Oh, and I’m back to hating Delius again. :P I just can’t listen to another note! Ughh! I mean every work just blends together and he still couldn’t write a rhythm, which isn’t a complete slight on the composer, but I get tired of his rhapsodizing about cuckoos, spring, and summer nights on a river. ;)

P.S. I like Tubin more than Delius! That’s for sure. :)
:)
I also much prefer Tubin. Actually Delius is not a composer whose music I have ever had a strong like or dislike for. There are a few works that I do greatly enjoy including the Piano Concerto, Brigg Fair the North Country Sketches and In a Summer Garden. I also find the end of his Requiem very moving. I think that Vaughan Williams described Delius's music as like 'a curate improvising' but this might have been a bit harsh.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).