Frederick Delius: Music, Art and Literature

By Matthew-Walker, Robert | Musical Opinion, Summer 1998 | Go to article overview
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Frederick Delius: Music, Art and Literature

Matthew-Walker, Robert, Musical Opinion

FREDERICK DELIUS: Music, Art and Literature

Edited by Lionel Carley

Ashgate Publishing 336pp + 16 biw and 35 in-text illustrations

ISBN 185928 222 9 55

A characteristic of Symposia is that contributions are rarely all of the same standard, but it has to be said at once that in this volume Lionel Carley has gathered together an outstanding group of contributors, each of whom in their various ways illuminates aspects of Delius: his music; his impact on a wide circle of friends, both close and not so close; their impact on him; and his relationship to fellow-artists in various fields.

The contributions never fall below an interesting standard, and more often than not are of far greater significance than that. In particular, Lionel Carley's own typically thorough yet eminently readable essay on the performance and history of Delius's Incidental Music for Gunnar Heiberg's play Folkeraadet, an important, seminal, yet little-known score, fills an important gap in Delius studies - but the same could be said for all of these essays in one way or another. With no fewer than 13 contributors, it perhaps would be invidious to mention them all, yet each deserves praise for the dedication, enthusiasm and insight they have brought to their chosen subjects, and the admirable if naturally varied literary style they have employed in bringing their discoveries to our attention.

If at first we might wonder how Delius's three appearances as a conductor of his own orchestral music might merit a 21-page essay, or consider that an essay of similar length on the Delius Festival in Jacksonville might all too easily become a listing of events, or consider how the impact of Danish literature was of significance to the composer, we are quickly disabused of such thoughts.

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