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A Miniaturist and More

For many music lovers, the end of January brings to mind two birthdays: Mozart’s on the 27th, and Schubert’s on the 31st. Could a composer born between these two giants, end up being overlooked? Perhaps. It was while preparing my blog about the Viking Opera Guide (BRM29585) that I learned that the 29th of January is the birthday of Frederick Delius.

Born in Yorkshire, England in 1862, Delius studied piano and violin. But, as often happens with young musicians, he soon learned that his father had other plans. In 1884, he was sent to Florida to manage an orange plantation; he spent all of his time studying and teaching music (while the oranges withered away). Some of the African-American melodies he heard eventually found their way into his Florida Suite and Appalachia.

In 1886 his father relented, and allowed him to study at the Leipzig Conservatory. During this time he became acquainted with the music of Wagner, Sinding and Grieg.

Eventually Delius married the German artist Jelka Rosen, and they settled near Fontainebleau. There he composed many orchestral, choral and chamber works, using an impressionistic style based on post-Wagnerian harmonies.

Portrait of Frederick Delius by his wife Jelka Rosen. Published in 1912. Public domain.

Portrait of Frederick Delius by his wife Jelka Rosen. Published in 1912. Public domain.

By 1925 Delius was blind and nearly paralyzed, but with the assistance of a young composer named Eric Fenby, he was able to complete several compositions before his death in 1934.

To sample the Delius sound, check out Pioneers of Impressionism (DBM00063). You can borrow the cartridge, or download it from BARD.

Following are a few Delius titles from our braille collection:
Air and Dance, arranged for piano by Eric Fenby (BRM02836 or BRM12635)

Five Lieder for High Voice and Piano (BRM01219)

On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring [a favorite of my wife Lisa and mine] (BRM32515). It is also in Enjoying Music, by Roy Bennett (BRM28339). In both books this piece for small orchestra is arranged for piano.

Three Preludes for Piano (BRM06083)

And what about opera? The Viking Book of Opera’s article on Delius includes information on Irmelin (1890-92), Magic Fountain (1894-95), Koanga (1895-97), as well as A Village Romeo and Juliet (1899-1901). A two-piano arrangement of “La Calinda” from Koanga may be found at BRM22294. This list of stage works suggests that there is much music by Delius waiting to be discovered.

Newest BARD Additions

Since we are on a roll talking about BARD, I thought it would be good to highlight some of the new (or newly digitized) titles that we’ve uploaded to BARD over the past few weeks. Talking Books Uncle Dave Macon (DBM03766) This is a look at “Uncle Dave” Macon (also known as “The Dixie Dewdrop) and […]

BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download)

Recently, I’ve been dismayed to hear some patrons say, “I know you don’t have such and such in your collection because I already checked on BARD.” After receiving a few of these comments, I realized that some of our patrons mistakenly believe that our entire collection is available on BARD.  I would like to use […]

Never Too Late!

Forty-three years ago patron Dianne Phelps earned her Music Education degree at Eastern New Mexico University. She faced difficult challenges with her partial vision at the time and struggled with some of the faculty, reluctant to award her a degree. Thankfully, she prevailed. Afterwards, she had a keyboard and was frustrated as she was not […]

Our Newest Books on (and off) BARD

Since it’s back-to-school time, many folks find themselves looking for new projects, new topics of interest, and new hobbies. I sincerely hope that many of you reading this are hoping to learn how to play music or your favorite song, improving your already extant musical skill, or maybe teaching yourself about some topic in music […]

Working and Music

We are approaching a holiday that signifies many things to people on the calendar: Labor Day.  For children and teachers, it’s back to school. For the sports fan, anticipation for Friday night high school football (and half-time shows; a shout-out to the band kids) and Sunday afternoon professional leagues. But I would like to remind […]

More Than Bossa Nova (But We Have That Too)!

Tomorrow’s opening ceremony kicks off the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A tradition for 120 years, this is the first time that the event will be held in a South American country. In celebration of this historic event, and as a representation of just how international the NLS Music Section is, this blog […]

Congratulations Smokey Robinson!

This past week, the Library of Congress recognized Smokey Robinson as the winner of this year’s Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. Smokey Robinson is probably most remembered as being the leader of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. Hits for The Miracles included “Shop Around,” “Going to a Go-Go,” and “Tracks of My Tears.” Robinson also […]