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MUSICAL INTERLUDE // FREDERICK DELIUS


Delius’s music for the rest of his life. Gauguin’s painting Nevermore—Delius’s twenty-pound purchase and today one of the world’s most famous paintings—hung for many years in the Delius home in Grez-sur-Loing, together with works by Munch and Delius’s wife, Jelka. Fenby recounted that when Delius and Jelka fled from Grez as the German army advanced, Jelka took Nevermore from its frame, removed the stretcher, and rolled it up, worrying all the while during their train journey to the port of embarkation that the painting would be confiscated by the German military. As we now know, it wasn’t and later, in 1920, Delius reluctantly sold the painting. No excuses needed here for the lack of coverage of Delius’s music, which is amply discussed and analysed in many accessible


“The last great apostle in our time of romance, emotion, and beauty in music.” – Sir Thomas Beecham


Violinist Midori Komachi was inspired by the Delius/ Gauguin connection.


them out by dictation. This whole heart-rending and inspiring with its


story, colourful characters, was


brought to life by Ken Russell’s film Song of Summer, 1968—which presented Delius and his music to the new generation of the time, a generation that continues to bring Delius’s music to an ever increasing following of fans. I had the great good fortune to work with Eric Fenby on a biography of Delius, and much of what is above was recounted to me first- hand by Fenby during our many meetings. ‘I never imagined that the letter I wrote to Delius offering my services would bring about such a profound change to my life,’ he told me, and indeed Eric Fenby went on to champion


books. Suffice to say that Delius has left a legacy of marvellous music: the well-known choral works Appalachia and Sea-Drift, among others; orchestral works In a Summer Garden, Summer Night on the River and, perhaps best known, On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring. Less often heard are the early and late works: Sonata for violin and piano B major (1892) and Sonata for violin and piano No.3 (1930). These pieces, among others,


will


be performed in London in September by the young virtuoso violinist Midori Komachi accompanied by Simon Callaghan, piano. Komachi has been inspired by the Delius/ Gauguin connection, calling the concert ‘Delius and Gauguin—a conversation. A concert of music expressing the significant exchanges between composers and artists.’ Komachi is a member of the Toki Quartet,


PROGRAMME


Frederick Delius: Sonata for violin and piano B major (1892)


Edvard Grieg: Lieder, transcribed for violin and piano by Émile Sauret


Claude Debussy: Sonata for violin and piano (1916)


Maurice Ravel: Sonata for violin and piano (1927)


Frederick Delius: Sonata for violin and piano No.3 (1930)


CONCERTS


September 19, 2012, 1.05pm St. James Piccadilly


September 21, 2012, 7.30pm Princess Alexandra Hall, Royal Over-Seas League


October 14, 2012, 1.15pm Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge


which won 1st prize at this year’s Sir Arthur Bliss Prize at Royal Academy of Music, London.


Komachi says that is was Gauguin’s painting Nevermore that led her to Delius’s music: ‘For me, the connection is the dark and rather mysterious sensation one gets both from the painting and from the music— music and colour comes across in a very sensual, emotional, and vibrant way. I also feel that Gauguin and Delius had a similar stream of consciousness and development of style. In a creative sense, both had a strongly primitive quality in their early work, but leading later to very different and quite unpredictable structures, although retaining that mystery and darkness. Yes, thanks to seeing Gauguin’s painting and learning that Delius was the original owners of Nevermore, this has led me to the major discovery of Delius’s music.’ •


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© Martin Beek


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