‘The success has been ever increasing & was quite enormous when the Violin Concerto was given’; Delius wrote enthusiastically to his friend in 1919, after the premiere of this work given by its dedicatee, Albert Sammons, with the young Adrian Boult. The Concerto was originally written in 1916, but the first performance was delayed due to the war. Having just completed the Double Concerto for Violin and Cello, Delius’s sound world was still expanding in his string writing. Jelka, Delius’s wife, noted, ‘Fred’s work is going so well’. 1916 was one of the most fruitful and happiest years of his life, with his output focusing particularly on strings: the Cello Sonata, the String Quartet and the Violin Concerto.
Delius met Albert Sammons in 1915, and from their first meeting, it was clear that their partnership was going to lead to something very special. Sammons, then a celebrated violinist active in the centre of English music, worked together with Delius in completing the solo violin part. Sammons’ contribution to this work is evident in his own copy of the solo part, in which he wrote down every note on to manuscript, supplementing with numerous options of fingerings, bowings and phrase markings. Delius must have been happy with Sammons’ suggestions, as when he saw it, he simply signed the front cover! The meticulous ideas written in these pages, most of which are not included in the published solo part, give various clues both in terms of the technical and musical aspects.
Although Delius studied the violin in his youth and for sure this was his most familiar instrument (he even performed the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto), it is quite clear that he did not intend to write a ‘violinistic’ concerto as one would expect in a conventional form. Written in one movement with three sections, this is a narrative which leads the way through an organic development of the opening phrase. From the lyrical chromatic line to the rhythmical motif stressing on the second beat, almost all subsequent motifs can be traced back to this beginning. The ‘scotch snap’ melody as heard in the middle section is a Delian fingerprint – this is passed between the solo part and the orchestra, and as if playing in chamber music, the counterpoint creates an intimate texture. In contrast, the last section sparks off with a virtuosic dance-like motif (which is still reminiscent of the chromatic line in the beginning of the piece), and as it oscillates between the recapitulation of the first phrase, the music naturally winds down. Also a characteristic feature in the endings of Delius’s other works for violin, such as Légende or Violin Sonata No.3, this gradual shift from reality to a dream-like atmosphere feels particularly unique to Delius’s sound world, and is simply magical.
©️2019 Midori Komachi
Delius as I knew him (Eric Fenby, 1936)
Japanese translation by Midori Komachi
One of the most affecting true story in the history of music, Fenby's memoir expresses in extensive detail of his collaboration with the English composer Frederick Delius (1862 -1934). Delius suffered in pain, as he became paralyzed and blind towards the end of his life, no longer able to compose. Fenby, then a young composer in Yorkshire, travels to Delius's residence in France, and offers his help to complete the composer's works by dictation.
Through the countless struggles, Fenby worked with Delius to complete many masterpieces including A Song of Summer, Songs of Farewell and Violin Sonata No.3.
This book has been one of the most important resources in the research of Frederick Delius, and subsequently inspired many works - including Ken Russell's BBC film Song of Summer (1968) and a song by Kate Bush, entitled 'Delius'.
This Japanese translation by Midori Komachi became the first ever biographical publication on Delius in Japan. Since this publication in 2017, this book has been featured widely on the national press, such as the Nikkei, Sankei and selected as 'Book of the Week' on Mainichi Newspaper.
Delius Violin Concerto
Read the article
Delius Society Journal
April 2014 Issue
Delius: Sonata for Violin and Piano No.1
Read the article
Spirited Magazine, UK
Winter 2014-15 Issue
Book Review: Delius and his Music by P.Guinery & M.Lee-Browne
The Courtaulds' Music Collection
-Samuel and Elizabeth Courtauld's musical legacy
Compilation Album: Masters of Impressionism (KING RECORDS) in collaboration with the Courtuald Exhibition ('19-'20) in Japan.
Biographies and programme notes of works by Rebecca Clarke, Gordon Jacob, E.J.Moeran, Alan Rawsthorne
Album: Warp & Weft (EM Records)
Delius and Gauguin
Album: Colours of the Heart (MusiKaleido Records)