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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.

Le Jazz Hot!

It’s always interesting to check the date for famous birthdays or events and see where reflections will lead.  Today, January 26, is the birthday of Stèphane Grappelli, French jazz violinist. That’s right, violinists can be jazz musicians, and once you hear a sample, you’ll start appreciating, and I hope, admiring the style.  In fact, stringed […]

For Braille Readers—A Real Treasure Trove

This afternoon, I looked at the Metropolitan Opera schedule, which appears in the October-December issue of our quarterly magazine The Musical Mainstream. It lists all of the operas to be performed, along with NLS materials, librettos, lectures, etc., pertaining to the operas. Nowhere did I find any mention of a reference book that I read […]

A Four Hour Concert in an Unheated Hall

On this day, over two hundred years ago, a historic concert took place. It was in Vienna, in the middle of the Advent season, and Beethoven needed some money. “But, Beethoven,” you would say, “surely he was doing fine! He is Beethoven! Everyone loves him!” However, in Vienna in 1808, just because everyone loved you […]

Don’t Give Up!

While reviewing our file archive, I came upon a letter sent to us in 1989 and experienced a sharp reminder of how our services have advanced in filling requests. At times, I have flashbacks to the pre-internet era and usually shudder.  Speedy communication is one of the positives of the medium, it seems to me.  […]

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 […]

Made in America

“Children must receive musical instruction naturally as food, and with as much pleasure as they derive from a ball game.” -Leonard Bernstein Today, we celebrate the birthday of Leonard Bernstein, one of the greatest American musicians of the twentieth century. Many of us know him as the celebrated conductor of the New York Philharmonic, the […]

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 […]

Golden Days of Yesteryear

My attention recently was called to a very historic event; on June 2, 1896, Guglielmo Marconi applied to patent the radio. When we think of Marconi as the inventor of the radio, it is easily overshadowed by contemporary inventors of computers, 3-D printing, and copy machines. Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled to have […]

Score Writing: Humor and Wit

A few weeks ago, I pulled a little book from the Music Section’s reference collection, An Introduction to Music Publishing: A Tour Through the Music Publishing Operations Involved in Transforming the Composer’s Manuscript Into a Printed Publication and Its Dissemination to the Student and the Performer. The front cover of this book features Beethoven as […]