DELIUS: Florida Suite / Over the Hills and Far Away

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Frederick Delius (1862 - 1934)


Florida Suite


By the River

Sunset- Near the Plantation

At Night


Over the Hills and Far Away

Idylle de Printemps

La Quadroone


Final Scene from Koanga


Fritz Delius was born in the Northern English city ofBradford, where his father Julius had moved from Germany to take advantage ofthe opportunities offered there by the then flourishing wool trade. The familywas a large one and established in comfortable circumstances. In ancestry itwas once suggested that Delius was descended from Julius Caesar, but the moreprobable descent was from Dutch forebears, who had by the sixteenth centuryadopted the Latin form of the family name. Although Delius as a composer hasoften been associated with the essentially English, he boasted, in fact, a muchwider genetic and cultural heritage, German, Dutch and by adoption French, withmarked influence from Scandinavia and from Florida. It was to this last that hisfather sent him, when it seemed clear that he had no inclination for the familywool trade. Julius Delius saw a possible future for his son in the Florida orangegroves and in 1887 Delius set sail from Liverpool, bound for New York andthence south to reach Solano Grove, a plantation of a hundred acres of orange orchardson the banks of the St Johns River. Here there was a substantial enough houseand Delius, showing more inclination to music than to business, was able hereto acquire a grand piano and to embark on lessons in counterpoint from ThomasWard in Jacksonville. He later moved to Danville in Virginia, abandoning hisplantation and seeking now to earn his living as a musician, teaching violin,piano and theory and taking part in local musical activities.


It was at this time, in the summer of 1886, that JuliusDelius allowed his son to return to Europe to enter Leipzig Conservatory, wherehe studied with Reinecke, Jadassohn and Sitt and formed an important friendshipwith Grieg. It was through the last that his father was persuaded to continueto support him, allowing him, therefore, to move to Paris. His meeting therewith the young painter Jelka Rosen led to a liaison. In 1897 they set up housetogether in Grez-sur-Loing and married in 1903.


Much of the rest of the life of Delius was spent at Grez-sur-Loing.

During the war years it was necessary to take refuge in England, a time of somedifficulty in view of the absence of the usual royalty payments from Germany,where he had already made something of a name for himself as a composer. Afterthe war he returned to France, but gradually succumbed to effects of syphilis, possiblycontracted in America, suffering blindness and paralysis. For the last sixyears of his life he was helped in his work by the young Yorkshire musician EricFen by, who served as his amanuensis. He died in 1934.


As a composer Delius owed much to the conductor SirThomas Beecham in England, while in Germany he had been helped in his earlyyears by the particular support of Hans Haym, the young Music Director in Elberfeld(Wuppertal). His Florida Suite was written in Leipzig in 1887 and firstplayed to a limited audience of Christian sinding, Grieg and the composer bythe musicians of the band at Bonorand's restaurant in the Rosenthal Park,conducted by Hans Sitt, who taught violin at the Leipzig Conservatory and hadsucceeded Brodsky as director of the Conservatory Orchestra. The orchestra onthis occasion was rewarded with a hundred marks and free beer. Delius hoped fora London performance, but in March 1889 August Manns returned the score andparts, claiming that his schedule left no time for rehearsal for inclusion of theSuite in the Crystal Palace concert season. In Paris in June Deliusrevised the work, ironing out what he described as unnecessary orchestralbrutalities. It was published posthumously by Sir Thomas Beecham, who conductedthe first English public performance of three of its four movements in Londonin 1937. The first movement, Daybreak leads to the well known La Calinda,that he was later to use in the opera Koanga. The second movement, Bythe River, much favoured by Beecham, relies on a repeated theme of lessobvious provenance than the material of the third movement, Sunset - Nearthe Plantation, which makes use of a well enough known theme sung, it maybe supposed, by the black plantation workers in Florida, the setting of the sunleading to a dance with elements of apparent Spanish origin, heard through theprism of black America. The last movement suggests Grieg rather than Florida,as the oboe leads into an evocative night-piece.


Over the Hills and Far Away, a fantasy-overture,was written between 1895 and 1897 and played in Elberfeld under Hans Haym. Itwas first performed in London in a concert at St James's Hall in 1899, paid forby Delius and under the direction of Alfred Hertz, who had served as aconductor in Barmen-Elberfeld and was early in the new century to move toAmerica where he established himself as a conductor of German opera at theMetropolitan Opera in New York. The work opens evocatively, looking towards thedistant hills, before the Allegro, a joyful outburst of sound, beforethe flute leads into a series of variations. The overture ends with a passagein which much of the earlier thematic material is recalled.


ldylle de Printemps (Spring Idyll) was written in1889, its content aptly conjured in its title, while La Quadroone, withthe Scherzo, formed part of the Suite d'orchestre of 1889 and1890, the first of the two pieces having the self-explanatory alternative titleRapsodie jloridienne. Memories of Florida and of

Virginia remained with Delius, particularly during theseearlier years, in which he sought his own distinctive musical idiom.


The opera Koanga, a lyric drama in a prologue andthree acts, was first heard in an incomplete concert performance at St James'sHall in 1899. It was first staged at Elberfeld in 1904. With a libretto byDelius and Charles F. Keary,

Koanga is based on the novel The Grandissimes

by George Washington Cable.

The plot is set on an eighteenth century Louisiana plantation,where the slave-girl Palmyra is the object of the attentions of the overseer SimonPerez. Koanga, a new slave, is a prince and voodoo priest and the plantationowner, seeing the value of Koanga's cooperation, seeks to marry him to Palmyra,who is his own illegitimate daughter. During the celebrations that precede thewedding, as they dance La Calinda, Perez abducts Palmyra, to prevent the match,and Koanga strikes the plantation owner, Don Martinez, and lays a voodoo curse onthe place, seeking refuge himself in the swamp-land. The opera ends in tragedy,when Koanga is captured and put to death and Palm
Item number 8553535
Barcode 730099453523
Release date 01/01/2000
Category Romantic
Label Naxos Classics
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Composers Delius, Frederick
Delius, Frederick
Conductors Lloyd-Jones, David
Lloyd-Jones, David
Orchestras English Northern Philharmonia
English Northern Philharmonia
Producers Myers, Paul
Myers, Paul
Disc: 1
Koanga: Final Scene
1 Daybreak - Dance
2 By the River
3 Sunset - Near the Plantation
4 At Night
5 Over the Hills and Far Away
6 Idylle Printemps
7 La Quadroone
8 Scherzo
9 Koanga: Final Scene
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