A Song before Sunrise, Symphonic poem
A Song before Sunrise
(b. Bradford, England, January 29, 1862 – d. Grez-sur-Loing, France, June 10, 1934)
Frederick Delius was born Fritz Theodore Albert, to naturalized German born parents living in Yorkshire. Delius’ father was a successful wool merchant and, while he allowed his son to study music as a hobby, he had every expectation that Delius would one day join the family business. Delius’ early musical education included lessons on the violin and piano; by many accounts, he had a keen musical ear, even as a child. After Delius completed his education, his father made it clear that a musical career was out of the question, and he reluctantly entered the family business in 1880, traveling to inspect offices in Germany, France, Norway, and Sweden. Father and son quarreled over Frederick’s work ethic, and in attempts to find a niche for his son’s talents, the elder Delius purchased an orange plantation in Florida, in the United States in 1884. While Delius was not terribly successful at growing oranges, the move to the U.S. gave him the opportunity to study with Thomas Ward, who befriended Delius and gave him composition lessons. The relationship rekindled in Delius the desire to pursue a musical career and, leaving the running of the plantation to a sibling, he set out to earn his passage back to England with the intention to persuade his father to allow him to study at the Leipzig Conservatory. A year later, Delius had moved to Danville, Virginia and was able to make a giving private music instruction and as an instructor at the Roanoke Female College. By 1886, he enrolled at the Leipzig Conservatory where he studied for two years, befriending Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg, who became not only a close confident, but also a great influence on Delius’ musical compositions. After moving to Paris in 1888, Delius devoted himself to composing and found a devoted circle of friends who championed his work. By 1920, Delius’ health suffered a severe decline and his physical limitations made it difficult for him to actively compose. Composer Philip Heseltine (known under the pseudonym of Peter Warlock) helped Delius prepare scores for publication and wrote the first biography of the composer. However, it was composer Eric Fenby who, in 1928, became Delius’ assistant and copyist. His work in taking musical dictation and transcribing scores was instrumental in the publication of some of Delius’ later works. Conductor Sir Thomas Beecham saw Delius’ musical genius and was pivotal in establishing the composer’s reputation as a composer of merit in Europe. By 1933, now blind and paralyzed, Delius stopped composing. A year later, he passed away at his beloved home in France, but was ultimately laid to rest in England.
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210 x 297 mm