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Full text of "Delius As I Knew Him"

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TENSION ENVELOPE CORP. 




3 1148 00760 0232 



as- ; 



DEC? 




DELIUS 
Reproduced from a sketch in oils by James Gunn 



DELIUS 

as I knew him 



EEIC FENBY 




First published 1936 
Refnrinted 1937 
1948 



TO 
MY FATHER AND MOTHER 

WITH 
GRATITUDE AND AFFECTION 



PRINTED Of ORBAT BRITAIN BY 
I WmCHALL AND 40HS LTD., LONDON AND UVBRPOOL 



AUTHOR'S NOTE 

MY thanks are due to my friend James Gunn for 
his kindness in allowing me to reproduce the 
fine sketch in oils of Delius which forms the 
frontispiece of this book. This head must not be 
confused with the portrait to which reference is made 
on pp. 117-18. It represents the painter's first im- 
pression of the composer, an impression which, in my 
eyes, is the truest I have seen. I am grateful to 
Messrs. Boosey & Hawkes for their courtesy in per- 
mitting me to print extracts from the full scores of 
A Song of Summer and Songs of Farewell, and to the 
Universal Edition for a similar favour in respect of a 
quotation from the Walk to the Paradise Garden. I 
must also acknowledge the kindness of the following 
publishers in giving me their consent to quote from 
copyright works: Messrs. Allen & Unwin for various 
passages from Thomas Common's translation of 
Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathu$tra\ Messrs. Dent & 
Sons for extracts from John of Ruysbroeck's The 
Adornment of the Spiritual Marriage; Messrs. Mac- 
millan and the Executors of the late W. E. Henley for 
the poem " Margaritae Sorori "; Messrs. Chatto & 
Windus for several short extracts from Walt Whit- 
man's Leaves of Grass. I am indebted to the B.B.C. 
for allowing me to reprint my description of the 
Idyll here, to Mr. Balfour Gardiner, and to the 

vii 



AUTHOR'S NOTE 

Executors of the late Frederick and Jelka Delius for 
permission to publish several letters, and, in addition, 
I respectfully ask the indulgence of those whom I have 
mentioned in my narrative. 

E.F. 



CONTENTS 

Part One 

AN INTERLUDE IN THE LIFE OF 
FREDERICK DELIUS 

p. i 

Part Two 

How HE WORKED 
.129 

Part Three 

SOME ASPECTS OF 

THE MAN AND THE COMP&SER 

AS I KNEW HIM 

'59 
Part Four 

THB SUNDOWN 
p. 213 



Appendix of Scores 
and Index 



PART ONE 

AN INTERLUDE IN 
THE LIFE OF FREDERICK DELIUS 



YOUTH is a strange time, and the stuff of Youth is 
stranger. For some, for the coarser and happier 
natures among us, Youth is the playtime of Life ; 
for others, for the more impressionable and thoughtful 
of us, Youth is a gradual and painful awakening to 
the sense of our heritage. We turn from one con- 
flicting philosophy to another in our pathetic attempts 
to solve for ourselves the tremendous problem of 
Good and Evil, and, swept off our feet by violent 
enthusiasms, we oscillate between this and that 
conception of Life until, weary and dispirited, we look 
about us in this beautiful world and curse the day that 
man began to philosophise. Then there begins that 
passionate chase of all those transitory things that pall 
almost as soon as possessed. Puzzled and perplexed, 
we learn the World's Way: 

As, to behold Desert a beggar born. 
And needy Nothing trimm'd in jollity, 
And purest Faith unhappily forsworn, 
And gilded Honour shamefully misplaced, 
And maiden Virtue rudely strumpeted, 
And right Perfection wrongly disgraced, 
And Strength by limping Sway disabled, 
And Art made tongue-tied by Authority, 
And Folly, doctor-like, controlling Skill, 
And simple Truth miscalPd Simplicity, 
And captive Good attending captain 111 - 



4 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

until, hopelessly disillusioned, we are left with our 
shattered ideals. 

Yet there is one thing the world with all its rotten- 
ness cannot take from us, and that is the deep and 
abiding joy and consolation perpetuate in Great Music. 
Here the Spirit may find home and relief when all else 
fails. It offers an 'open sesame* to a world of content- 
ment such as naught can offer in this brief sojourn 
here, until at last we shall be brought into the presence 
of that 'Eternal Light which loves and smiles/ 

In my own experience the glorious final pages of 
Elgar's Second Symphony have given me a deeper 
insight into life, and kindled a greater zest for living, 
than all that philosophy has ever taught me. Here is 
the message of a man who had lived and found life 
hard but good, and every minute of it worth living. 
Yes, it had been good, but something even finer yet 
awaited him ! 

May he rest serene in the company of the Great 
Musician and the great masters of the noble art he 
served so well ! 

Here let those who would cavil remember that Elgar 
is the only English composer, probably the only 
composer, who has given perfect expression to that 
rarest and sublimest of all moods (and that but once 
for a few bars only at the beginning of the Second Part 
of his Dream of Geronttus) - the mood to which all 
composers should surely aspire, the mood which 
savours of that heavenly world wherein lies our 
destiny, whether we have the courage and honesty to 
admit it or not - the mood of blessed felicity, by which 
I mean an active and loving rest in God. 



AN INTERLUDE 5 

This is far removed from sanctimoniousness, but 
surely we of this tired world need such music of rest 
and felicity as never before. 

The debt of humanity to its Great Music-Makers 
can never be paid, and, though most of them went 
hungry of the things of this world, their meed is not to 
be reckoned in gold. 

It was in such a mood of intense gratitude for all the 
loveliness Frederick Delius had brought into my life 
that I first wrote to him, in the hope that it might give 
him pleasure to know that his music had meant so 
much in the life of a very young man, 

As yet, I had heard none of his music in the 
concert-room except an atrocious performance of his 
Violin Concerto, the violin-pianoforte arrangement of 
which had been done to death by two of our local 
celebrities. It says much for my tender enthusiasm 
of those days for Delius's music that it too was not 
quenched by such a rendering. I had had, therefore, 
to content myself with the occasional broadcast 
performances of his work, and with such gramophone 
records as had then been issued. 

In Yorkshire, the county of his birth, it was almost 
impossible to find out anything about his published 
music, and, had this been possible, the purchase of 
but a few scores would have emptied my slender purse 
at that time. 

Nevertheless, I had known on first hearing it that 
the music of this man was no ordinary music. It had 
moved me so strangely and unaccountably, and this 
even at second-hand, so to speak. 



6 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

When, at last, after weeks of enquiries and dis- 
appointments, I was able to peruse the vocal score 
of his Mass of Life, I had stood spellbound in the little 
music-shop in the main street of my native town as I 
read that soul-stirring and original passage for Solo 
Contralto which, rendered into English by Thomas 
Common, reads: 

O Zarathustra ! Beyond good and evil found we our 
island and our green meadow - we two alone ! 
Therefore must we be friendly to each other ! 
. , . O Zarathustra, thou 
art not faithful enough to me ! 

* 

There is an old heavy, heavy, booming-clock : it 
boometh by night up to thy cave: 

- When thou hearest this clock strike the hours at 
midnight, then thinkest thou between one and twelve 
thereon - 

~ Thou thinkest thereon, O Zarathustra, I know it 

- of soon leaving me ! 

As I read on, a cold thrill ran through me at the 
magical entry of the chorus basses singing sotto voce: 

Oman! Take heed! 

What saith deep midnight's voice indeed ? 

*I slept my sleep - 

From deepest dream I've woke and plead :~ 

The world is deep, 

And deeper than the day could read. 

Deep is its woe - 

Joy - deeper still than grief can be : 

Woe saith: Hence! Go! 

But joys all want eternity - 

Want deep, profound eternity P 

and my musing continued until long after the Solo 
Soprano's tender and exquisite close: 



AN INTERLUDE 7 

And we gazed at each other, and looked at the 
green meadow o'er which the cool evening was just 
passing, and we wept together. 

I knew nothing of Nietzsche. It was the music that 
struck me to the heart so that I could scarcely think 
of anything else for days. 

Thus, by the merest chance, on my first handling a 
Delius -score, I stumbled on the very pages that 
contain the musical pith of all the composer had to 
say. 

*. 

I had not expected to receive any acknowledgment 
of my letter, and was greatly surprised to hear from 
Delius as follows: 

* Grez-sur-Loing, 
'Bourron, 

Trance, 

'9.6.1938. 

*MY DEAR YOUNG FRIEND, - Your sympathetic and 
appreciative letter gave me the greatest pleasure. I 
am always glad when I hear that my music appeals to 
the young. I know Scarborough quite well ; when a 
schoolboy I used to spend my summer holidays at 
Filey and my memories of all the happy days on that 
coast are still very green. Most likely the Phil- 
harmonic choir will give the Mass of Life again under 
Kennedy Scott next year, when perhaps you may be 
able to hear it. 

'With warm greetings, 
C I remain, 

* Sincerely yours, 

TREDERICK DELIUS/ 



8 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

About this time I had read several articles on Delius 
and his music, and had learnt of his unhappy plight, 
namely that he was now blind and paralysed and un- 
able to work any more. But the real tragedy of it all, 
or so it seemed to me, was to hear that the composer 
was worried and unhappy because it was physically 
impossible for him to continue and finish his life's 
work. Apparently there were several works which he 
had begun, and been unable to complete. He could 
bear with his misfortunes if only he could finish these 
scores. 

To have something beautiful in you and not be able 
to bring it to fruition because the human machinery 
had broken down seemed hard. To be a genius, as this 
man plainly was, and have something beautiful in you 
and not be able to rid yourself of it because you could 
no longer see your score paper and no longer hold 
your pen - well, the thought was unbearable ! 

I remember how, with my dog> Peter, I walked for 
miles one stormy day on the cliffs reflecting on the 
helplessness and misery of the man. What delicacy of 
feeling was in his music ! What must such a sensitive 
nature be suffering ? Could not anything be done ? 

Of course, I would be willing to But how dare 

I presume such a thing ! It was preposterous ! 
Ashamed and surprised, I dismissed the idea from 
my mind and, battling with the wind, tried to think 
of other things. 

During the next few weeks the conceit that I could 
help became an obsession. It chased me like some 
Hound of Heaven, and I hid from it under any and 
every excuse that I could find ; but it was always there, 



AN INTERLUDE 9 

and in the end I could not sleep for it. Finally it 
conquered me, and, getting up in the middle of the 
night, I took pen and paper and wrote to Delius 
offering my help for three or four years. I would do 
anjrthing to be the means of his finishing that music, 
and, provided that my suggestion was acceptable to 
him at all, I felt certain that I would succeed in my 
purpose. How it was going to be done - well, God 
alone knew the answer to that ! 

I told no one, and waited anxiously for his reply. It 
came: 

* Grez-sur-Loing, 
'Bourron, 

'29.^.1928. 

'DEAR MR. FENBY, - 1 am greatly touched by your 
kind and sympathetic letter and I should love to accept 
your offer. Come here by all means as soon as you 
can and see if you like it before deciding anything. 
How old are you ? 

'You know, this is a lovely spot, just a quiet little 
village and our house is in a big garden going down to 
the river, but of course we live very much alone. 

'Perhaps the best way for you to come would be to 
travel from London during the night. For instance - 
you take the train at 9.10 a.m. to Bourroh, our station, 
where you will be at n and where we will have you 
fetched if we know when to expect you. With kind 
regards from my wife, 

*I am, 

'Yours sincerely, 

'FREDERICK DELIUS.' 

Then followed some correspondence concerning 
passports, and I received a postcard from Mrs. Delius 



10 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

informing me that Delius's Sea-drift was to be per- 
formed at the Leeds Festival, and that if I had not 
arranged to leave before that date her husband would 
like me to hear it. 

I went over to Leeds at the last moment, but, owing 
to the stupidity of a minor official, I was unable to 
gain admittance in spite of the fact that I offered ten 
shillings to be privileged to stand inside the door at 
the back of the hall for that one piece. 

However, I was able to tell Delius that I had heard 
on good authority that Sir Thomas Beecham had 
excelled himself, and given a magnificent performance. 

Some months later, when I met Sir Thomas at 
Grez, he chaffed me about my adventure. 'My dear 
boy/ said he, 'if I had only known I would have put 
you on the platform !* 

The last letter from Grez before my departure read : 



'DEAR MR. FENBY, - My husband was very pleased 
with your letter and said you did quite right with the 
Passport authorities. ... I hope your journey will 
not be delayed as we are expecting our great friend 
Balfour Gardiner on the aoth and he is anxious to play 
an arrangement of a-Delius work with you which he 
has made. You would have to copy out your part 
from his manuscript. So you see your kind help will 
be required at once, 

'With kindest regards from us both, also to your 
parents, 

4 Yours sincerely, 

*JELKA DELIUS, 

T.S. - 1 will meet you in Bourron/ 



IT had rained all night, and when the train steamed 
into the long and straggling station of the lazy 
little village of Bourron, a half-hour's walk over 
the fields from Grez-sur-Loing, that October morn- 
ing, there seemed to be no duller place on earth. It 
was still drizzling when I alighted, and I looked about 
me for some friendly recognition. It came from a 
rather unexpected face, and I found myself saying, 
'Mrs. Delius - 1 presume ?' I saw that she was 
surprised, and this, I afterwards learnt, was due to 
my absurdly young appearance. We shook hands, 
and a soft and unusual voice with a slightly un-English 
accent about it greeted me: 'Mr. Fenby, this is a 
pleasure ! I am so delighted that you have come out 
here to help my husband. We both appreciate your 
kindness very much. If only you can work together 
in some way it will be so good for him, better than all 
the medicines in the world, and it is the dream of my 
life that he will be able to compose again/ 

She instructed Andre, the untidy little chauffeur, to 
collect my things, and as we walked down the plat- 
form I saw that she had kind eyes. She was dressed 
simply, of fair complexion and medium height, amply 
proportioned and obviously a woman of great physical 
strength. 

We climbed up into the ancient Ford with its 



XX 



12 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

yellow curtains, a lovable old bone-shaker familiar to 
unknown visitors as the Delias ensign at the railway 
station, and were soon on our way down the station 
lane. This grand old chariot had never failed them. 
In its heyday they had toured Italy in it, but now it 
did no manner of work for six days, but on the seventh 
day, Friday, out it came to take them oif to market. 
It remained their trusty servant until a few months 
before Mrs. Delius's death, when it was sold to the 
chauffeur. But such was its devotion to the Delius 
household that it had no mind to serve others, not 
even the little fellow who had tended it with such care 
for years. It had taken the hill over to Fontainebleau 
a thousand and one times with all the impudence of a 
Bluebird, but on its first outing with its new master 
it had not the heart to mount it. Half-way up the hill 
it refused to go an inch farther, and then it ran back- 
wards, mounted the kerb, and smashed itself up on 
its side ! 

We now struck the grande-route, passing beneath a 
long avenue of tall and stately poplars which stretched 
away over the hill-top like some proud regiment in 
double file. This noble bodyguard was felled to the 
ground some months afterwards with all the ruthless- 
ness of the modern State behind each blow, and now, 
eight years later, the fresh young trees cannot quite 
dispel the sense of desolation about the place, nor 
take from my heart the sound of those dying groans. 

The last moan of a tree as it falls to the ground is 
one of the saddest sounds I know. 

I asked how Delius was, and was told that he was 
fairly well, that he was still resting, and that he would 



AN INTERLUDE 13 

be brought downstairs at mid-day to see me. Mrs. 
Delius hoped that I played the piano, as they were 
expecting a visit from a great friend of theirs, a 
Russian 'cellist named Barjansky, who would be sure 
to bring his instrument along with him. 

With this we turned to the left, down a lane, and, 
having passed a vulgar and pretentious villa, gaily 
coloured and adorned with hogs' heads, my companion 
said, 'This is Grez. We have lived here for over 
thirty years !' 

We entered the village, which seemed none too 
clean, all grey and depressing, and zigzagging our 
way through the narrow streets we finally halted 
outside the rambling house which was to be my home 
for the greater part of the next six years. 

It was a curious house, fronting the street and 
divided in the middle by a great porch through which 
one could have driven a loaded hay-waggon with ease. 
Over this porch was a corridor, which joined the two 
wings of the house together, and here Delius's German 
male nurse had his room. In the right wing there 
was a big living-room, beyond it the kitchen, and 
overhead Delius's bedroom and & guest-room. In 
the left wing there was a guest-room on the street 
level, and upstairs the music-room, which led into a 
small but lofty bedroom. This was to be my room. 
Over the two wings were enormous studios, and 
branching out from the side of the right wing was 
yet another studio with glass roof, whilst underneath 
it were the various outhouses. The back of the house 
looked on to a now faded garden, and in the back- 
ground, some two to three hundred yards away, the 



14 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

great trees by the river-side piled themselves up in a 
gigantic semicircle, but with a mellowness about 
them such as I had never seen before. 

We climbed the stairs up to the music-room, and, 
pausing in the doorway, Mrs. Delius said, 'This is 
the room where Delius has written all his finest 
music/ 

I entered with reverence. Immediately I felt the 
atmosphere was somewhat sinister, and I was curiously 
ill at ease. To the very end of my days in Grez I 
never fully overcame that unpleasant feeling in the 
music-room. Sometimes, when I have been hundreds 
of miles away, I have suddenly remembered it and 
shuddered. I cannot understand it at all. 

It was a long room, with two heavily curtained 
windows looking down on to the street, and one on to 
the garden. Taking my eyes off the Ibach grand 
piano at which Delius had composed, I glanced from 
picture to picture on the yellow walls. Instantly I 
felt a distaste for those sickly pinks which had been 
lavished on almost every canvas, and, fearing lest my 
dislike should be observed, I turned my attention to 
the crowded bookshelves. 

'Look, Mr. Fenby, this is your room through here. 
I hope you will be comfortable/ continued Mrs. 
Delius. 'I will go and tell Delius that you are here, 
and will call you when he is ready.* 

I was now left alone. A full-sized face of mad 
Strindberg by Munch frowned down at me from over 
the foot of the bed, and over the head was a framed 
photograph of Nietzsche. More fantastic creations 
of Munch, dark with suicide, hung high up on the 



AN INTERLUDE 15 

walls, which were covered by a coarse brown material 
(almost like sacking) held by tacks, and round the 
wainscot had been stencilled quaint little hunting 
scenes. Over by the window to the garden was a 
clever little sketch of a shrieking goblin. Could this 
be the fellow who sometimes shouts in the wrong 
place in Eventyr ? 

It was all so strange that I wondered whether I 
should have nightmare that night. But I longed to 
see Delius, and was only happy, though a little 
nervous, when at last I stood hesitating on the 
door-step of the living-room which led from the 
porch. 

'Here is Mr. Fenby,' prompted his wife. 

'Come in, come in, Fenby. I am very glad to meet 
you/ said Delius, and I walked slowly across the room 
to return his greeting. 

Nothing can ever dim the memory of that first 
meeting. 

There was Delius, gaunt, deathly pale, his fine 
classical head proud and erect as he sat upright in his 
chair. Round him stretched a great screen so that 
for a moment it seemed as if some Roman Cardinal 
was sitting there. He wore a white shirt open at the 
neck, and a checked rug hiing loosely about his knees. 
With difficulty he extended his arm, as though to 
compel the life to return into his drooping hand. 
Again I hesitated. It seemed wrong to shake hands, 
but a glance from Mrs. Delius reassured me. I took 
the long tapering fingers in mine, and in words 
something like thfc&e I said, 'Well, sir, this is a very 
great honour. I am very proud and privileged to 



16 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

come here, and it is very good of you to receive me so 
kindly/ 

'Now, Fenby/ said Delius, 'just make yourself at 
home, and use everything in your part of the house as 
if it were your own -my music, my music-room. 
But sit down and tell me about your journey/ 

We talked about Scarborough, which he had known 
very well as a boy. Did I go to the Cricket Festivals 
as he had done ? Did I know Filey ? What glorious 
times he had had there when his family used to take 
a house in the Crescent for the summer holidays ! 
How he loved playing cricket in the neighbouring 
villages of Gristhorpe and Hunmanby, and what fine 
fellows the farm-hands were 1 He had nearly lost 
his life in some mad escapade on the Brigg when, 
along with another boy, he had been trapped by the 
tide. 

The conversation flowed pleasantly and easily 
enough until it suddenly turned to music - English 
music - how, I cannot remember. But I shall never 
forget the change that came over him when, in my 
innocence, I uttered these two harmless words, nor 
shall I forget that frown, that contemptuous smile, 
which he rounded off by a sly pursing of the lips in a 
manner peculiarly his own, that smile which I grew 
to anticipate whenever visitors began skating on thin 
ice, nor that startling, almost uncouth broadness of 
speech as he interrupted me: 'English music ? Did 
you say English music ?' There was a pause, and 
then he added, 'Well - IVe never heard of any !' 

What had I said ? I felt the blood flow to my 
finger-tips, and in the silence which followed I saw 



AN INTERLUDE 17 

many things, but, clearest of all, that if I was to stay 
here for months on end and work with him I must not 
voice my opinions. 

The immensity of my self-imposed task weighed 
hard upon me, and I could have given it up there and 
then but for my pride. He remained silent, and did 
not address me until his wife and I were seated for 
lunch, and then he merely asked me what I would 
drink. I was thankful when we had finished, for all 
through the meal he continued severe and aloof, and 
I felt that every word of our conversation, hers and 
mine, had been a word too many for him. He had 
endured it, and had now and then broken the silence 
with, 'Bitte, Brod. . . . KartofFeln. . . . Spinat. . . . 
Geben Sie mir mein Bier* - but this not for us, but 
for the young German nurse who was feeding him. 

When I rose to go, he told me that on his desk in 
the music-room I should find the MS. score of an 
unpublished work of his -a symphonic poem, A 
Poem of Life and Love - and that he wanted me to 
transcribe it into short score so that it could be played 
on two pianos. He would like to hear it again, to see 
if it was good. His friend, Balfour Gardiner, had 
already begun it ; would I finish it ? 

I lit my pipe and read through the score; I was 
hopelessly disappointed. It was true there were 
lovely passages here and there, but the work might 
have been written by a student in Delius's manner* 
Turning to the last page of Gardiner's arrangement, I 
began to work. Two hours later three strokes on the 
bell called me down to tea, and as I approached the 
door I heard the young German reading aloud. The 



18 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

reading stopped as I entered and Mrs. Delius came 
to my rescue. Happily, there was no need for that 
kindness, for Delius had evidently made up his mind 
to be entertaining just as I had made up mine to 
avoid the mention of music like the plague. 

I trembled to think what I would say should he 
ask for my opinion on that symphonic poem ! 

After tea we left them to their reading, and Mrs. 
Delius and I walked down the garden. Here I learnt 
the routine of the household; how that one could take 
out one's watch at any hour of the day and say, 'It 
is half-past eleven - at this moment the nurse will be 
carrying Delius downstairs*; or, *It is two o 'clock - 
they will be taking him upstairs to rest* ; or, 'It is half- 
past five -Mrs. Delius will just be relieving the 
German nurse'; or, *It is three in the morning -the 
nurse will be lifting him up to give him his orangeade' 
- and all this with an almost military precision. 

I found conversation a little trying, for my mind was 
full of anxieties. Would I settle ? Had I it in me to 
accustom myself to the conditions of this strange 
household ? I did not fear loneliness, but could I 
stand the complete lack of young society for months 
at a time in such a place as this ? 

I dreaded going indoors to that music-room; but 
that was nothing. . How could I work with such a 
difficult man as Delius ? The dankness of the garden 
oppressed me, and when two strokes of the bell 
sounded - for Mrs. Delius to go in and take her turn 
in the eternal round of reading aloud - 1 went out 
into the street to explore the village. 

It was already dark, and too dark to make out much 



AN INTERLUDE 19 

of the church, except that there was a fine tower which 
jutted out over the street, sheltering the pavement. I 
passed beneath it and took the road before me. Two 
men returning from the fields bade me *Bon-soir,' 
and as I sauntered by the cottages I smelt delicious 
soups in the making, for they were preparing the 
evening meal. 

The full significance of my undertaking became a 
sober reality and not a dream any more, and, looking 
up into the starry heavens, I prayed that I might 
succeed. It is hard to pray at any time, and harder 
still to an accompaniment of barking dogs, for my 
unfamiliar steps had aroused the great Alsatians in a 
yard near by, and soon it seemed as if the dogs of the 
whole countryside were raging against me, such a 
barking and a yapping was there. In a lighter mood 
I should have taken heart from this welcome, but I 
was sad in the darkness and a little afraid. 

I turned, and, entering the house, crept upstairs to 
the music-room and resumed my work. 

At seven o'clock, Hildegarde, the pretty young 
Saxon maid, came in shyly and said, * Wollen Sie bitte 
zum essen kommen?'~so I went downstairs to 
supper. 

The good food, the wine, and the delightful conver- 
sation revived me, and my heart went out to these two 
dear old people. The old man's humanity returned to 
him, and he became irresistible, and I saw much that 
was sweet and lovable in his wife. 

After supper, with a flickering oil-lamp to guide us, 
we pushed him in his carriage up a hill which led out 
of the village, and which, they told me, would take 



20 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

one over to Marlotte, where lived old Joe Heseltine, an 
uncle of Philip. So long as the weather was favourable 
Delius never missed this airing before retiring. The 
cool evening air was fresh and delicious and everything 
was at peace. Little was said, and we left him to his 
thoughts. We met no one on the way, and, as we 
retraced our steps and neared the village, the street 
lights went out - for it was nine o'clock and the village 
was already asleep. 

Bidding them 'Good night/ I went up to my room 
and remembered no more until I heard a voice calling, 
'Vbila Teau chaude, monsieur.' 

It was eight o'clock, and the beginning of my first 
full day in Grez. 



3 



WHEN I had taken my coffee and rolls I went 
out into the garden, and, finding Mrs. Delias 
there, I wandered down to the river with her 
and heard the news. 

Delius had slept well, and was free from pain. He 
had not called her to read aloud in the night ; that was a 
good sign. Barjansky would be here for supper, and 
would probably be staying for two nights. The visits 
of such great artists as this 'cellist were all too rare, 
and, so long as Delius could bear the strain of listening 
intently, such intimate music-makings as they enjoyed 
on these occasions made him as happy as he could 
ever expect to_be. But one could never be sure of 
him; he was such a physical wreck, and had to be 
watched and cared for as a baby in arms. The 
slightest thing, no matter how trivial it might be, upset 
him, for he had no strength to fight against -it. There 
were weeks when he would never so much as mention 
music at all, nor even ask for a gramophone record 
of his own music to be played to him ; weeks when he 
just trailed on from day to day, eating a little and 
drinking out of all proportion to the next-to-nothing 
he ate, when he did little else but sleep, and this even 
during the reading. This distressing state of apathy 
had greatly worried Mrs. Delius, and she had longed to 
have some young and enthusiastic musician about the 



22 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

house to rekindle his interest. She had written to Philip 
Heseltine asking him to come and live with them, but 
he had been unable to do so, and when they had 
received my letter she had grasped at the opportunity 
with both hands. It had seemed a heaven-sent 
blessing. Now she was happy, and, if only the public 
appreciation of her husband's music would quicken 
and become vital, she would have all that she could 
desire. It saddened her to think that this beautiful 
and original music -the work of a lifetime -was 
being so shamefully neglected. It would be harder 
still if on his death there was a sudden vogue for 
it. 

However, Delius had been very definite that morn- 
ing. He had said that he particularly wanted 
Barjansky to play him his 'Cello Concerto and Sonata, 
and that I was to look at the piano parts of these works. 

There was something of a command in that tone, 
and I went in mortal dread of it, for these works were 
but names to me. 

I was so anxious to begin my practising at once that 
I took little notice of the church, which I saw was early 
Norman, on the one side of the house, or the ruined 
tower on the other; but the recollection of those great 
and majestic Italian poplars higher up the river com- 
pelled me to gaze at them again from the music-room 
window before sitting down to my formidable task. I 
practised until lunch and my confidence came back 
to me. 

Delius was very talkative and happy, for my delight 
in his 'Cello Sonata was unrestrained* I could not 
forget those soaring melodies, nor the subtleties of 



AN INTERLUDE 33 

their accompaniments. The treatment was mostly 
chordal, it is true, but the placing of the chords was so 
sensitive, so pregnant with suggestion, that, as each 
new phrase bred in its stride the next phrase, one's 
soul took flight along with it. I was impatient over 
my food, for I hungered after more of that rhapsody. 
Such music is the food of the Spirit, which cannot be 
so easily appeased. 

I played on until tea-time, and, when Mrs. Delius 
suggested that instead of reading aloud to him Delius 
might care to hear a gramophone record, I thrilled 
with expectancy, for it is always a fascinating thing to 
observe the effect of a man's music on himself. He 
chose Sir Thomas Beecham's beautiful record of his 
On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring, and, sitting 
there opposite him in the quiet of that great room, 
with no fidgeting neighbours or disturbing faces to 
distract, one touched the very heart of Music in those 
exquisite opening bars. Never had the sound of 
strings nor Goossens's oboe-playing seemed so 
magical ! A curious other-worldliness possessed him. 
With his head thrown back, and swaying slightly to 
the rhythm, he seemed to be seeing with those now 
wide-open yet unseeing eyes, and his spirit ebbed and 
flowed with the rise and fall of his music. 

There was nothing of the quietist's surrender to idle 
ictivity here, nor the sensualist's love of mere sound, 
aut a continued reaching out of himself. A great 
mystic has said that *God is an ocean that ebbs and 
flows/ and no words are truer than these of Great 
Music* It is only when we are unconscious of the 
pulse of Time that we can aspire through goodness to 



24 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

be at one with Things Eternal. The pause at the 
turning of the disc did not disturb his rapture, and 
this going-out of himself through the noble love of 
music continued until after the lovely sounds of that 
final and singularly beautiful cadence had died away. 
Not until those moments of silence immediately fol- 
lowing that music did I realise to the full the utter 
poverty of words when, reverting to mortal speech, I 
fished about in my mind for something to say. We 
have all of us heard the inane remarks that people 
have made at such times, and I have come to dread 
these moments, for they invariably take away from us 
all that we have received. Guided by a wiser impulse, 
I let the silence speak for me, and in a quiet voice I 
added two words only: 'Thank you/ He made no 
response, and, smiling at his wife, I rose and stole 
gently out of the room. 

When I came down to supper that evening, Barjan- 
sky was there. I was not prepared to find so unusual- 
looking a man. He was of medium height, pale and 
thin, but he had a striking head, with high forehead 
and a mass of long bushy hair ; but for his white shirt 
he was dressed entirely in black, and wore black 
gaiters like those of an Anglican dean. After a few 
minutes 1 conversation with him I perceived him to be 
an extremely likeable fellow, and one of those rare 
musicians who give the impression of being musical. 
He was evidently <a great lover of Delius's work, and 
his manner of address was born of reverence. He told 
us, amongst other things, that the 'Cello Sonata had 
been well received on his tour, that the quality of 
German orchestras had much improved since Delius's 



AN INTERLUDE 25 

active days; and there was much questioning about 
far-off friends. 

After supper Mrs. Delius reminded us that in a few 
minutes* time Sir Thomas Beecham would be broad- 
casting Brigg Fair. We heard it to perfection, and 
only once did it show signs of fading. When the 
music had ceased, Delius called out, 'Splendid, 
Thomas ! That is how I want my music to be played. 
Beecham is the only conductor who has got the hang 
of it ! That was a beautiful performance ! . . . Now 
let's clear the air and play that record of the Revellers 
-"Ol' Man River."' 

This and other such records gave him great pleasure, 
for the singing was reminiscent of the way his negroes 
used to sing out in Florida, when as a young orange- 
planter he had often sat up far into the night, smoking 
cigar after cigar, and listening to their subtle impro- 
visations in harmony. 'They showed a truly wonder- 
ful sense of musicianship and harmonic resource in 
the instinctive way in which they treated a melody/ 
he added, *and, hearing their singing in such romantic 
surroundings, it was then and there that I first felt 
the urge to express myself in music/ 

The greater part of the following day was spent in 
vigorous rehearsal, and I was much amused by 
Barjansky, who would practise like a demon for an 
hour or so and then suddenly stop and say, 'Fenby, 
I must now take my repose/ Bathed in perspiration, 
he would then retire behind his 'cello-case, strip, dry 
his shirt before the stove, and, flinging himself in a 
state of the greatest exhaustion on the divan, would 
smoke the vilest cigarettes imaginable. He was a 



26 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

most inspiring person, and played like an angel. As 
the hours passed by my two battle-horses became 
more manageable, and I was not thrown so often. 
Barjansky was satisfied, and I resolved to hang on at 
all costs, even by their tails if need be. 

Six o'clock came and Delius was carried up to the 
music-room. I could see that Barjansky was very 
nervous, and I had never known such an ordeal, for 
my future at Grez depended on it. We played. When 
we had finished, Delius, all smiles and exultant, 
shouted from his corner, 'Bravo, Barjansky ! It was 
glorious. Nobody plays this work like you. Oh, it 
was superb ! Bravo, Fenby ! You amaze me, my 
boy. I am so glad to have you here with me.' 

This reassured me on my difficult enterprise. We 
excelled ourselves in the concerto, and the old man 
said that we must have a bottle of Pol Roger up from 
the cellar to celebrate at supper. When they had 
carried him away and I was left alone with Barjansky, 
he took my hand and said, * Fenby, you are artiste. 
It is vonderful for you that you are here ; it is vonderful 
for Delius/ I was overjoyed, for now it seemed to 
me that what I had dared to dream two months before 
on those distant cliffs of Yorkshire might yet be 
achievable, and that I might gradually grow in his 
musical favour until at last Delius would have 
sufficient confidence in me to dictate to me. 

After supper he asked for more music. Would we 
play him some of the Mass of Life ? Opening the 
doors of the long corridor to the music-room, they 
propped him up in bed, and we played all we could 
in terms of 'cello and piano, and when we were tired 



AN INTERLUDE 27 

and had come to the end, and had gone through to his 
room and heard his, 'What pleasure you two have 
given me to-day P we were happy and contented and 
ready for sleep. 

The next morning Barjansky left for Italy, and, as 
news came that Balfour Gardiner would be with us 
that evening, I took up the arrangement for two pianos 
of the symphonic poem and worked feverishly. 

That day at lunch Delius said, 'You will like 
Balfour. He is one of my oldest friends, and one of 
the very few people I trust and admire implicitly.* 
He then went on to tell me, with many a touch of dry 
humour, that Gardiner had given up music; that he 
had a theory that at a certain age a man ceases to be 
musical, and Gardiner had already reached that age. 

'Would that many others thought the same,' said 
Delius. 

He, Gardiner, now found much more fun in plant- 
ing trees and painting rain-water tubs than in writing 
music. In fact, he had .even been known to curtail 
a holiday and race across Europe to assist at the 
accouchement of his sow ! 

Delius was right. I did like Gardiner. I liked 
everything about him except his musical pessimism, 
and this I found intolerable. He could not see how 
Delius could possibly work again, yet he thought 
there was no harm in playing over that arrangement 
to him. I could understand his diffidence here, but 
I could not share his gloomy outlook on the future of 
music. Since then, however, I have not been free 
from such pessimism myself. Music as an art is a 
glorious thing, but music as a profession is an 



28 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

anathema. No man should follow it unless he can 
help it. 

We played the arrangement through several times, 
but Delius merely thanked us and made no comment. 
After all, it seemed hopeless. Happily for me, Mrs. 
Delius still believed that something could be done. 




further mention of A Poem of Life and Love 
was raade during the days which followed 
Balf our Gardiner 5 s departure, and I tried hard 
to convince myself that this was because Delius was 
suffering more than usual* There were intervals when 
he was entirely free from pain, but there were long 
periods when a man of weaker fibre would have wished 
himself dead. Yet it was strange that he should never 
refer to that music, and I wondered what was going 
on in his mind. It distressed me deeply to see a man 
in such pain, and more than once the sight of it drove 
me from the room, such was his agony. But, since I 
had offered to take a turn with the reading to allow 
the others some recreation, and it had quickly become 
a habit that I should read regularly each day, I could 
not play the coward and run away. 

Sir Thomas Beecham has said mtee than once that 
he could scarcely bear to see Delius at the latter part 
of his life, and that his visits to Grez always depressed 
him. What would he have felt had he witnessed those 
excruciating moments ? 

At such times - and it was so often towards sunset - 
Delius would suddenly become restless and uneasy, 
now wanting a thick rug over his legs, now a thin one, 
now no rug at all. Perhaps he would fed more 
comfortable with his feet on the ground ? No, he had 

39 



30 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

felt more relief with them on the chair. Were his feet 
touching ? Were his legs straight ? After half an 
hour or so of these preliminaries, during which one 
had been trying to read aloud to him, the pains in his 
legs would gradually intensify until his ravings became 
pitiful* Unbelievable though it may seem, I never 
once heard him complain, and the nobility and 
patience with which he bore his sufferings continually 
astonished me. It was hard to stand by and be so 
helpless, or to go on reading, as he always insisted that 
I should do, when it seemed that at any moment his 
struggles would end in his falling out of his great 
chair. Finally he would give in, and with difficulty 
and reluctance be carried off to bed. Every cure and 
every remedy had been tried in vain. Allopathic 
medicine made him worse. His only crumb of com- 
fort was the calming influence of certain homoeopathic 
remedies. 

One thing was ever uppermost in my mind at Grez, 
and that was that only there, and with such constant 
care as his wife lavished on him, could he go on 
living. Her name deserves a very prominent place 
on the scroll of those who have given themselves un- 
stintingly for others. 

And so the days passed by uneventfully, and I found 
myself watching him as anxiously as the others. 
During those periods when Delius was suffering more 
than usual he could bear pain, but he could not endure 
the sound of conversation, and we ate and exchanged 
the usual politenesses of th$ table in silence. The 
slightest rattle of a cup or clatter of a spoon was 
sufficient to lash him into a fury, and if one forgot oneself 



AN INTERLUDE 31 

and found oneself saying, 'Mrs. Delius, may I pass 
you so-and-so ?* it was certain to meet with his, 'Will 
you please be quiet V The nervous tension one felt 
in his presence was almost unbearable, and, after sitting 
beside him for an hour, one left the room feeling as if 
one had been drained of one's life-blood. The house 
at such times resembled a tomb from which the living 
in it could have no hope of escape. 

Then came a brighter day, when the sufferer was 
left in peace. 

That evening, after supper, Delius surprised me by 
saying that he had an idea in his mind - a simple little 
tune - and that he wanted me to take it down. 

I took paper and pen and waited eagerly. I had no 
idea what he would do -whether he would sing, or 
call out the names of the notes and their varying time- 
values. What he did was to stagger and confound me 
so utterly that I did not recover for the rest of that 
night. 

Throwing his head back, he began to drawl in a 
loud monotone that was little more than the crudest 
extension of speech, and which, when there was any- 
thing of a ring about it, wavered round a tenor middle 
B. This is something like what I heard : 

*Ter-te-ter - ter-te-ter - ter-te-te-ter' - and here he 
inteqected 'Hold it !' and then went on - 'ter-te-te- 
ter - ter-ter-ter - te-ter - hold it ! - ter-te-te-^er - ter- 
ter-te-te-te-ter-hold it ! - ter-te-ter-ter-te-ter-ter-te- 
ter - hold it ! - ter-te-ter-ter-te-ter-ter-te-ter * 

Instantly my mind went back to those days in the 
Great War when, as a small boy, I had been accom- 
panist in a concert party and had gone off almost 



32 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

every night to entertain the soldiers. Two or three 
items were always reserved for such 'Tommies' as 
cared to sing, and I had learnt something of the good- 
natured fellow who would come beaming up to the 
platform and whisper in one's ear, *I haven't any 
music, but it goes like this: High-tee-tigh-tee-tigh- 
tee-tigh !' 

When he had finished this amazing recital, he turned 
to me and asked, 'Have you got that ? Now sing it !' 
I was dumbfounded* 

'But~Delius,' I stammered, 'what key is it in ?' 

'A minor/ came the answer. 

In a flash I saw that he evidently heard the tune 
imaginatively, but was unable to sing it. 

'Well, we will try again,' he went on, and there was 
more suggestion of disgust and impatience in his tone 
than I cared to admit. It was obvious that he failed 
to understand how I could be so stupid. 

I had observed that he disliked anything in the form 
of repetition - whether it were musical or verbal - and 
that if one had the misfortune to repeat oneself, one 
was never allowed to proceed very far. Unnecessary 
repetition annoyed him, and he sat there, tossing his 
head from side to side, and champing and frown- 
ing in his anger. This he always did when things 
went wrong. When I suggested that it would help 
me if he would call out the names of the notes, 
he gave a great sigh and added, 'Well, all right 
then!' 

The drawling began again, but now on another 
note! 

'A-BC-BD-E/etc, 



AN INTERLUDE 33 

I quickly sketched the shape of this melody, 1 but had 
no idea of the stresses, nor even the time signature. 
I was too flurried, too nervous, too upset to go about 
it in the proper way. I had not thought that it would 
be like this, and the sting of my emotion pierced me 
to the heart. My pen flopped about in my fingers, 
and in my confusion I found myself holding it upside 
down. My fingers were inky, and the tears that I had 
been fighting to keep back now blurred my spectacles, 
and I could not see. The more I looked at this relic 
of a man, and heard his hopeless attempts to make 
himself understood in but the rudiments of the 
glorious art in which he so greatly excelled, the more 
distressed I became, until in the end the sight and 
sound of it were too much for me, and I broke down. 
I had to give it up ! 

Just then Mrs. Delius entered the room, and I 
pulled myself together as best I could and said, 'I am 
sorry, I cannot go on ! Please excuse me.' 

I got up and went out into the porch, and as I 
groped my way in the pitch darkness round to the 
door which led up from the garden to the music- 
room, I overheard Delius say, 'Jdka, that boy is no 
good ! He is too slow. He cannot even take down a 
simple melody T 

I slept very little that night, for now it seemed that 
my mission was a complete .fiasco. There was only 
one consolation, and that was in the thought that 
nobody on earth could have made head or tail of those 
faltering sounds. 

1 This melody, transposed into G minor, is now to be found in the 
second movement of DeJiws's Third Sonata for Violin and Piano, 



34 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

The next day Delius was particularly kind to me, 
and I assumed that his wife must have told him some- 
thing of the overwrought state in which she had found 
me. He was being wheeled about in the garden 
before lunch, when he sent for me and immediately 
began to discuss A Poem of Life and Love. 

'My boy,' said he, 'I want you to look at that score, 
aod tell me exactly what you think about it. Take 
yew time, and when you are ready I will come up to 
the music-room, and you must play it, and then I will 
hear what you have to say/ 

I was greatly astonished, yet not much comforted, 
for it will be remembered that I did not think well of 
this work, nor did I see how I could possibly tell him 
so. But later in the day, when I had talked over the 
difficult and embarrassing situation with Mrs. Delius, 
all she said was, 'Mr. Fenby, you must tell him 
exactly what you feel. After all, you are the only 
musician who is likely to be here for some considerable 
time, and, though I have no technical knowledge to 
say whether you are right or wrong, I do believe in you. 
You must forget your youth and stand up to him. 
I will always stand by you ! 

Be it to her eternal credit that, without this woman's 
belief that ultimately I should succeed in my purpose, 
my position at Grez during those early days would 
have been an impossible one. Never once did she 
waver in giving me her whole-hearted support* 

I now made up my mind that I would assert myself 
at all costs, even if it ended by my being packed off 
bag and baggage to England ! On the following after- 
noon Delius was carried up to the music-room, and I 



AN INTERLUDE 35 

struggled through the score at the piano. There was 
so much going on that it was a physical impossibility 
to play it with one pair -of hands, but I called out the 
orchestration as best I could to refresh his memory, 
for he had not seen the full score for eight years. It 
was one of the last scores on which he had worked 
before he became totally blind. 

I soon warmed up to my difficult task, and found 
myself criticising the work fearlessly. My first un- 
favourable comment electrified him, but it was not 
long before he saw my view and agreed with my 
opinion. Had I then known to what degree he 
resented severe criticism of his music, no man, nor 
even a woman, could have persuaded me to say what 
I did on that occasion. As we neared the end he 
stopped me and said, c Look here, Fenby, I have got 
an idea. Select all the good material, develop it, and 
make a piece out of it yourself. Now, take your time ; 
never hurry your work, whatever you do P 

This insistence on one's taking one's time was a 
point which I have heard him stress, over and over 
again, as of the greatest importance in all fine work. 
How could one always see at first sight the possibilities 
dormant in an idea, and relevant to the feelings one 
wanted to express ? He told me that though one 
could never foresee precisely what the finished work 
would be like, yet one should always have some 
definite goal in mind, and never take one's eyes off it. 
Whether one achieved it or not, of course, was another 
matter. Yet good work always shaped itself according 
to the laws of its own inner being. 

Tor instance/ said he, 'take Sea-drift^ which, I 



36 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

think, is one of my best works. The shape of it was 
taken out of my hands, so to speak, as I worked, and 
was bred easily and effortlessly of the nature and 
sequence of my particular musical ideas, and the 
nature and sequence of the particular poetical ideas of 
Whitman that appealed to me. Avoid all "fillings " 
and meaningless "passage-work," and remember what 
I say about taking your time/ 

With this he called his nurse to carry him down** 
stairs, and left me to my score. I smoked innumerable 
pipes over it during the hours which followed, and the 
next morning I took a long walk in the woods alone, 
turning over all that music in my mind. 

It was fortunate for me that Delius had come up to 
the music-room without delay, for that day his suffer- 
ings returned, and again he was racked with pain. 
Now, I rarely visited his part of the house, except for 
meals, or to take my turn with the reading. For the 
next few days I delighted in working out his beautiful 
ideas with all the fascination of a chess problem. 
Then I left them, and thought no more about them, 
until one night shortly afterwards, as I was about to 
go to bed, there c^me to me, just as such things do 
come to one at such untimely hours, the opening idea 
for that entirely new work which he wanted me to 
write for him, and I worked at it until it was very late. 
A week later I had finished my score to my liking, and, 
as he was still in pain, I put it by and longed im- 
patiently for the time when he would be well enough 
to hear it, for I knew it was good. 

He was not able to think of music for yet another 
eight days, and when at last they had made him 



AN INTERLUDE 37 

comfortable in the great leather chair in the music- 
room, and he had said, 'I am ready now, lad; let me 
hear what you've done,* I could not contain myself, 
but started off with a verve that certainly was not 
English. As I played he kept on saying, *Good 
good good now more of that yes - yes-yes/ with 
eyes wide open and head shaking with interest. 
'Fenby/ said he, when I had finished, *I can work 
with you. You are a natural musician. You have got 
the sense of my ideas in the most wonderful way. 
It seems almost uncanny. You have awakened my 
interest again, and, now that you have shown me 
what yoij can do with my material, it has set my mind 
working to see what I can make of it.' 

Then he said many pleasing things which will ever 
remain with me. 

This is how Delius began to work again after years 
of inactivity. How he worked with me I will try to 
explain later on. 



5 



I HAD now been in Grez for three weeks when the 
autumn rains set in, and icy winds from Russia 
stripped the leaves from the great trees by the 
river till, from the music-room window, one could see 
the meadows and the bleak woods beyond. There 
were no more walks up the Marlotte road when all the 
village had gone to bed, no more of those tusslings 
with the wind, when, if you went alone, you held an 
umbrella over the old man with one hand and pushed 
him in his carriage with the other, with ever an 
anxious eye on that miserable oil lamp, lest it should 
blow out and some mad cyclist come dashing into us 
in the darkness ; no more of those delicious teas with 
him in the garden, as we followed the sun round 
greedily until it went down behind the church, 
Delius loved the sun, and would often say that it was 
not hard for him to understand the early Persians 
worshipping it. 

Each morning he would ask if the sun was out, and, 
if his nurse felt energetic and told the truth, you would 
hear that thunderous clearing of his throat, as they 
tucked him up in his carriage down below under the 
porch. I say thunderous, for I have heard it often 
from the bridge a good four minutes' walk away from 
the house ! Then would come that habitual question, 
'Are there any letters, lass ?' and presently the sound 

38 



AN INTERLUDE 39 

of his carriage bumping over the cobblestones as they 
wheeled him towards the garden path. Finding some 
sheltered spot - for a puff of wind was like a gale to 
him - his wife would read the mail whilst he listened 
with head thrown back, facing the sun, anxious lest 
it should quickly hide from him behind the clouds. 

What questions he asked ! Had the sun gone 
already ? How long would it be before he could feel 
it again ? Was it a very big cloud, and could we move 
a little, so that we should face it when it came out on 
the other side ? 

How often have I cursed that eternal game of hide- 
and-seek up there in the sky, when, just as I had 
warned him that in an instant the sun would be 
breaking through, some saucy wisp of a cloud would 
flitter by and obscure it, and the old man would 
complain bitterly, 'But you said it was coming -I 
don't feel it yet 1' What excuses and what explana- 
tions there were, and what waitings that so often 
ended in, 'Well, never mind -wheel me round the 
garden and tell me how it all looks/ 

On such days as he was unable to go out he used 
to take exercise indoors. He would try to walk. This 
could only be done when three of us were present - 
one to support him on either side and the other to 
follow behind him with a chair and air-cushion. I 
shall never forget the first time on which I assisted with 
the chair and cushion at these painful proceedings. 

Before he could begin, his nurse carried him from 
his great armchair, and set him on a smaller armchair 
which had been devised for that particular purpose. 
He could not sit on a chair without arms. At a given 



40 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

signal he was lifted up on to his feet, and held up 
gently under his arms, Mrs. Delius at the one, the 
nurse at the other. His thinness suggested great 
height as they propped him up, limp and unsteady, 
between them, so that he towered above their stooping 
figures like a giant, and his clothes hung on him like 
a skeleton. Then Mrs. Delius coaxed him quietly: 
*Are you ready, Fred ? Links - rechts - links - 

rechts ' and so the pathetic procession began. 

At the word links he kicked out sideways with his left 
foot, with no sense of direction or control, and, on 
rechts, the right foot did likewise. After five or six 
yards of this stutoping along, he cried, 'Be ready with 
the chair, Eric/ Then, when he was unable to totter 
a step farther, they lowered him gradually into it, 
panting for breath. When he had rested in silence 
for several minutes, and his breathing had become 
normal, we turned him about - chair and all - and he 
tried to walk those few paces back again. 

There were many incidents at Grez that would 
have touched the heart of the toughest, and this was 
one of the most terrible of all. Yet it did me good, 
for I saw the iron nature and courage of the man, and 
I learnt in those moments how a man should bear 
suffering and misfortune. There was nothing of the 
sickly, morbid, blind composer as known by popular 
fiction here, but a man with a heart like a lion, and a 
spirit that was as untamable as it was stern. 

I had not expected to find such sternness, almost 
harshness, in a man of his delicate susceptibility, and 
such uncouth passages in his work as had hitherto 
puzzled me now became clear. I can never listen to 



AN INTERLUDE 41 

the perverse insistency of those blatant chords leading 
into the last movement of his Violin Concerto, when 
it seems as if the whole orchestra is shaking its angry 
fist at you, without being whisked off to that room in 
Grez where, on more occasions than I care to remem- 
ber, I have seen his expression suddenly lose its life 
and set as hard as stone, for no other reason than that 
the soup had not been sufficiently salted in the cook- 
ing. At first, I attributed it to his illness, but on one 
occasion^ after it had persisted inhumanly for several 
days, I broached the subject tactfully to his wife, only 
to be told that I ought to have known Fred when he 
was well. He was not half so hard as he had been in 
those days ! 

This sternness was never far away from him. It 
embarrassed the kindly Americans who had known 
him for a lifetime in Grez - their rare visits to the 
Delius household were prompted more by a sense of 
obligation than of pleasure - and it terrified the chil- 
dren* All too frequently there were periods when 
nobody came near the house for months on end, and 
consequently I have gone for as long as five months 
at a time without speaking to a soul outside their tiny 
household. 

Once you had crossed the threshold of that great 
door to the street you found yourself in another world 
- a world, peaceful and self-sufficient, which centred 
round the figure of Delius. It was a world with its 
own laws, its own standards of right and wrong in all 
things, its own particular sense of beauty and its own 
music. It had been created for music-making, and 
there was an unheard-of reverence for work. Here 



42 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

these two original people had lived happy and con- 
tented for many years, jealously guarding their little 
world from all vulgar intrusion. Within the walls of 
that house and garden the romance of their life 
together flowered and died. 

No traveller, pausing on the bridge at Grez before 
entering the village by the lane from Moncourt, could 
ever imagine that over that wall between the church 
and the ruin there existed a world such as this. A 
painter's paradise, to be sure, but hardly the sort of 
place in which a composer would choose to spend his 
life* But, then, Ddius had always disliked the society 
of musicians. He had found them such a dull and 
uninspiring lot, who talked about nothing else but 
'technique, technique/ The world of beauty was a 
closed book to them, it seemed. He had much 
preferred the more vital companionship of painters, 
and Grez had always been a haunt of painters. There 
were old men still living who recalled how they had 
stood as cheeky little boys behind Corot as he worked 
away at his easel, puffing at his pipe under a great 
uiftbrella down by the mill. 1 Edvard Munch and 
Carl Larson had spent many a summer there, painting 
and sketching by the river, and the delightful pictures 
of Grez that I have seen in the art galleries of Sweden 
are proof of its fascination for Scandinavian artists. 
In particular, it is interesting to note that Carl Larson's 
studies of Grez in the National Museum at Stockholm 
are those by which he first won fame. 

Writers, too, had felt something of its charm. 

1 Corot painted a beautiful picture of the old bridge at Grez, and there 
is an etching of it (in reverse) at the Maine there. 



AN INTERLUDE 43 

Strindberg had once stayed for several weeks at the 
Hdtel Chevion, then a famous rendezvous for artists, 
and had not Robert Louis Stevenson proposed to 
Fanny Osbourne on the bridge ? 

Once a man has come under the spell of Grez, and 
known all its moods, life can never be quite the same 
elsewhere. -Like all the others, I, too, have vowed that 
never again would I set foot in it, yet I know that 
before long I shall find myself lolling on that bridge 
again, with my eyes turned towards that cluster of 
houses nestling round the church and ruin, their 
garden walls green with clinging vines, and quiet 
homeliness about their tiny wash-houses under the 
trees down by the water's edge, and I know that the 
old sense of wonder will come back to me. 

Alden Brooks, Delius's friend and neighbour, who 
has lived in the old church house for over twenty 
years, once caught me in this damnatory mood. <r This 
wretched place is getting on my nerves/ said I. 'As 
for you, I cannot imagine why you go on living in this 
miserable swamp 1* 

*Oh, I have cursed it just as much as you/ replied 
Brooks, *but it gets us all in the end, and we have to 
return. It will get you just the same, you mark my 
words P 

It was ever thus with Delius. He was never happy 
for long away from Grez. 

We continued to work daily, and those days were 
die hardest of all for me in Grez, for we were painfully 
and laboriously evolving a method of work, and this 
was not easy. It was like groping about in the dark* 

After a few weeks of this sustained effort, Delius had 



44 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

managed to dictate a short work based on the good 
material from A Poem of Life and Lave^ and this score 
was sent to Balfour Gardiner for his inspection. The 
latter had been very sceptical about the possibility of 
Delius's working any more. 'For one thing/ he had 
said to me, 'Fred will never be able to dictate because 
of his inability to make a decision.' Balfour Gardiner 
was almost right here, for Delius's constant change- 
ableness was the most difficult thing with which I had 
to contend. Delius was very pleased with his achieve- 
ment, and wondered what his friend would have to 
say. He had already composed some of the incidental 
music to Flecker's Hassan by dictation to his wife, but 
he was then still able to see, and could therefore correct 
the score, even though he could not do it with his own 
hand. Percy Grainger had also very kindly helped 
him with the scoring. Now it was a different matter. 
Delius had to picture each page of the score in his 
mind, and work it out in his head, away from the 
piano, before he could dictate it. He had not been 
accustomed to doing this, so that now there were 
greater demands on his memory, not to mention the 
ticklish problem of picking up the threads of a previous 
day's work, and continuing, logically and fittingly, in 
accordance with what he wanted to express. This he 
found a very trying and troublesome stumbling-block. 
Several days later, Balfour Gardiner wrote to Mrs. 
Delius saying, 'When I opened the parcel containing 
the score, I was astonished at what I found. I thought 
there would be numerous sketches all pieced together, 
with some parts scored and others not, and a great 
mass of material for me to deal with. Instead, I find 



AN INTERLUDE 45 

a short work practically completed and ready for the 
copyist. All that remains for me to do is to go over 
the score in detail and suggest minor improvements/ 
Shortly afterwards, I received a long letter from him 
full of helpful and constructive criticism. It ended: 

'You have certainly achieved the object you set 
out to achieve, namely, making a coherent musical 
whole out of the elements at your disposal, and the 
solution of the problems involved must have been of 
the greatest interest both to Fred and yourself. If 
any remarks I have made lead to improvements, 
even small improvements in detail, I shall have been 
amply repaid for my trouble. . . .' 

This kindly and practical interest was greatly 
appreciated by Delius, and, I may add, by myself, 
and, coming as it did at the right moment from a 
musician of whom Delius thought so highly, was the 
very best possible incentive to renew his efforts, in the 
hope that something worth while might eventually be 
accomplished. But there was much to be done yet. 
It was not until six months later that Delius began to 
dictate with anything approaching confidence and 
certainty, and I to take it down with anything like 
the understanding and quick anticipation that was 
necessary. 

That Christmas, Evlyn and Grace Howard- Jones 
came over from London, and there was much music- 
making and laughter, and Delius called for champagne 
at the slightest provocation. The children's party on 
Christmas Eve, which Delius had stipulated was to 
last no more than one hour, was a moderate success. 



46 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

I had had a shock earlier in the day that set me think- 
ing hard, when I had discovered that one of the chil- 
dren who had come to prepare the crib was putting 
twins into the manger ! So much for the compulsory 
State education of modern France ! The electric 
lights were turned out, the^ Christmas-tree and crib 
now blazed with candles, and there were carols on the 
gramophone. Each child. received a present, and I, 
being one of them, found that my parcel contained a 
vocal score of A Village Romeo and Juliet. 

Then what was to have been a surprise turned out 
a miserable failure. Up on the landing Howard- 
Jones, the maid Hildegarde, and I waited to sing a 
little three-part carol that I had written as a boy: 

Behold a silly, tender Babe, 
In freezing winter night, 
In homely manger trembling lies; 
Alas ! a piteous sight. 

The inns are full, no man will yield 
This little Pilgrim be'd; 
But forced He is with silly beasts 
In crib to shroud His Head. 

Our days of practising had been in vain, for at the 
crucial moment the male voices were heard, but from 
our little Hildegarde there came not a sound. Her 
lips moved, but still she was silent. We struggled on 
as best we could, the pair of us, to finish the verse, 
and had no sooner ended this than her voice returned. 
But, instead of trying to patch up my ruined carol, 
she began another, and this at the top of her voice - 
'Holy Night, Silent Night/ her annual effort, and the 
one thing she had been forbidden to sing. After the 



AN INTERLUDE 47 

seventh verse Delius sent up to say that he could bear 
it no longer. Could we possibly silence her ? We 
were just in time to prevent her starting the eighth by 
applauding vigorously. She then retired to the 
kitchen and wept bitterly. 

All through these proceedings, Delius had sat in the 
middle of the room, deathly white, silent and aloof, 
framed off from the rest by a screen round the back 
of his chair. As each child, painfully nervous and 
with fear in its eyes, was brought forward and intro- 
duced to him, he smiled, but there was nothing of that 
easy manner that a child instinctively looks for, and 
which wins its affection from the very first. His 
attempts at conversation were awkward, strained, and 
hollow, so that the children withdrew as soon as they 
could and stood about the room in silence. 

Even admitting his blindness, and the embarrass- 
ment which his infirmities caused him, one would 
have thought that a man who had written such tender 
music as so often smiles through the pages of his 
works would not have been so ill at ease with children. 



I FOUND the intense cold of that winter 1 unbearable, 
but there was some small consolation on hearing 
Delius say that it was the worst winter that he had 
ever known in Grez. For several weeks we had been 
snowbound, and I had rarely left the house except to 
trudge down the garden to admire the magnificent 
line of silver birches all glittering in the moonlight in 
his meadow on the opposite bank of the river. I 
revelled in its glassy stillness and the inky drawing of 
the trees in the woods near by. Then when the thaw 
came, and there was no snow to temper the biting 
cold, it seemed that we had touched one of the fierce 
extremes of Dante's Inferno. 

There was no central heating in the house in those 
days, nor were there open fires, and in my wing I had 
to rely on a comfortless stove that stood cheerless as 
a pillar-box at the end of the music-room. My bed- 
room was the coldest room in the house, and night 
after night I could not sleep for the penetrating cold. 
For nearly a fortnight now the water in my room had 
been frozen inches thick. My hair-brushes were like 
bricks, my shaving-brush like a piece of wood. I was 
obliged to chisel up my soap, and the hot water which 
they sent me from the kitchen was tepid when it 

1 1928-9. 



AN INTERLUDE 49 

reached me. I thawed my things as best I could, but 
before I could use them they were stiff again. 

Men in these parts mind not how they dress, caring 
more for comfort than for fashion, and during these 
icy days those who were obliged to go out of doors 
paid no heed to their appearance. A more comical set 
of rogues I never saw, as they clattered hurriedly 
through the streets in their sabots, with coarse 
mufflers lashed about the pointed hoods of their black 
capes. Some had sacks tied round them with rope, 
and all were reluctant to greet you, lest they should 
bare their faces for an instant to the cold. 

During those icy days work with Delius was impos- 
sible, yet he was by no means idle, for that crude and 
gallant attempt at composition had Stirred him deeply. 
He had told his wife that it would need patience- 
great patience - both on his and my part, if ultimately 
he was to write something worthy of performance. 
It was no use our tackling works that he had in mind 
until we had created and mastered a technique by 
which we could work, and that would take time- 
perhaps a very long time. The only way was to learn 
by doing, otherwise we could never hope to under- 
stand each other. We must treat this piece as an 
exercise, and, guided by Balfour Gardiner's helpful 
criticism, hammer away at it until we could knock it 
into shape. 

'I cannot tell you,' said Mrs. Delius, one morning 
when she had brought up my letters to the music- 
room, *I cannot tell you what it means to me to see 
Fred full of his music again. Twice he has asked me 
not to read to him at the customary times; he would 



50 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

prefer to think of his work. When I awoke this morn- 
ing he was already deep in thought, and humming 
some of the music from that piece that you are working 
on together. I did not stir, but after a while he 
suddenly called out, "Jelka, Jelka, write to Universal 
for the score of Hassan. I have been, thinking in the 
night that I could make a choral suite out of it." * 

His interest was gradually reviving. 

When we resumed work, I soon saw that he had not 
suffered the grass to grow under his feet, and there 
were fierce discussions when he suggested that we 
should retain some of the rejected material from the 
old score, A Poem of Life and Love. Still, it said a 
great deal for his open-mindedness that he had been 
willing to sacrifice so much of it in the beginning; 
therefore I kept my place and let him have his own 
way. His mind was working so quickly that it was 
always ahead of what he was dictating, but I noted 
that he put his finger immediately on the weak spots 
of such small sections as hung fire, and quickly 
brought them to life. 

And so we grappled with our problem, and Delius 
grew stronger, until one day, on awakening out of his 
usual nap after lunch, he astonished his wife by crying 
out excitedly, 'Jelka, I can see my hands V Scarcely 
had he uttered these startling words than the vision 
faded. 

This hopeful sign recurred fairly frequently within 
the next few months, though never for more than a 
few moments each time, and high hopes were enter- 
tained that by the end of the year he might see again. 
The tissues of his eyes were sound and healthy, they 



AN INTERLUDE 51 

told me, and if, in some mysterious way, strength 
could be infused into him, he would see. It was not 
that he experienced merely a momentary perception 
of light ; he told me that he could *see well enough to 
count his fingers.' 

It was all a mystery to me, and I let it remain so. 

Try as I would, I could not convince myself that 
Delius would eventually see, though I somehow 
managed to mask my true feelings under a conven- 
tional cheerfulness that was not always easy to sustain. 
It seemed against all natural laws that this man would 
ever be anything other than the hopeless wreck he was. 
The amazing thing was that he was still so mentally 
alive. His conversation was never heavy; on the 
contrary, and in spite of his slowness of speech, there 
was something about it that smacked of Latin gaiety* 

I noticed that as time went on he became increas- 
ingly talkative over lunch, and would comment on 
the contents of the daily newspaper in a mocking tone 
which I should have hated in others, yet in him was 
wholly delicious. He would switch from one topic to 
another with a swiftness that was as bewildering as it 
was often embarrassing. 

I remember one instance on the occasion of a visit 
from Suzanne Haym, the youngest daughter of Dr. 
Hans Haym, whom both Delius and his wife had not 
met since she was a tiny tot at the production of 
Koanga at Elberfeld in 1904. Delius had been telling 
us that he had had a letter that morning from a man 
who, confusing him with a certain Delius living in 
Harrogate, had written, 'I wonder if you are that 
Delius whom I knew at school fifty years ago ; he was 



52 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

great on the trombone and I was great on the jews* 
harp, and they used to call me "Fiddle-Face/' * 

Instantly, and with little change in his voice, he 
went on, 'Suzanne, we'll drink to the memory of your 
father. It was through his efforts that my music first 
became known in Germany. I owe him a tremendous 
lot for what he did for me in those days/ 

Dr. Haym had died of a broken heart after losing 
two sons in the war. 

Already I was beginning to feel the strain of going 
from day to day and hearing little or nothing else but 
Delius's music. 

It was easy to understand that, when either Delius 
or his wife desired music, they should choose the 
music that had been most intimately bound up with 
their own lives. We all do this when the mood is upon 
us. They were both at a seasoned age when they 
were living in the past, whereas I was a raw young 
man who had barely begun to live* With them it was 
always the music of Delius. With me it was not quite 
so simple. 

Years before I had heard of the existence of Delius, 
my deepest feelings had found utterance in the finest 
music of Palestrina, Victoria, Mozart and Elgar. 
Now, starved as I was of all young society - indeed, 
any society other than that of these two old people - 
with only the sweet and luscious wine of Delius 3 s 
music to live on (for that which had once been a 
delectable dessert had now become my staple food), 
there was a risk lest my musical digestion should be 
mined for ever. Music is as necessary for my well-being 



AN INTERLUDE S3 

as food and wine. I cannot go for long without 
it. Yet no man can live on champagne for ever. 

A musical friend of Delias, who had spent weeks 
correcting the proofs of Sea-drift, once told me, in 
the presence of the composer's wife, that in con- 
sequence he could not bear to hear that work again. 
From now onwards I, too, began to feel something of 
that same feeling with every score that we worked on. 
Norman O'Neill was also fully aware of this danger, 
for I remember his saying to me, 'Fenby, when you 
leave Grez, you will never want to hear another note 
of Delius as long as you live V 

It would have been so refreshing if, after a hard 
day's work, one could have listened for a while to 
music that was just a little less chromatic in character. 
But, when there was to be music, it was always the 
same few records that we heard -On Hearing the First 
Cuckoo in Spring, Summer Night on the River, Slimmer 
Garden, Brigg Fair, or The Walk to the Paradise 
Garden. Many a time after these recitals I have gone 
up to the music-room at night and played the opening 
bars of Sibelius's Second Symphony over and over 
again, but Sibelius would have frowned had he heard 
the number of times I repeated that strong opening 
chord of D major before moving away from it ! 

Perhaps twice during the course of a week Delius 
would 'listen in' to a Strauss waltz, or some rare an,d 
seldom-heard piece by Grieg that he had told them 
to mark when they had read through the programmes 
of the World Radio to him ; but even here I always felt 
that his interest was prompted more by the recollec- 
tion of some pleasing incident associated with the 



54 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

performance of this or that particular work in the past 
than by any purely musical desire to hear it again. 

However, he seldom missed an opportunity of 
listening in to a new work, but it was not long before 
he would ask us to turn it off and go on with the 
reading. 

Sometimes, after he had been carried up to bed, I 
would play the rebel boy and 'tune in* some favourite 
work of mine that chanced to be broadcast. Then, 
suddenly, I would hear that loud clearing of his 
throat as if he were yet in the room, and, stealing on 
tiptoe up the staircase, I would discover that he had 
ordered his bedroom door to be opened - but just a 
little! 

The next morning it was invariably the same ques- 
tion that he put to me as soon as I had entered the 
room: 

'Did you like that music that you were listening to 
last night ?' 

'Yes/ 

'Well, I didn't!' 



rthe early days of March the icy wind suddenly 
left us, the air was mild and soft again, and the 
lower and wilder part of the garden pale and beau- 
tiful with shy flowers. The old peasant woman with 
the home-made, home-cured rabbit-skin coat now put 
it away, hoping that before another winter set in she 
would have a few more pieces to sew on to keep her 
from the cold. The merry widow at the little inn 
opposite bustled about in preparation for Easter, and 
the postman lingered a little less in the warmth by 
the way. Now we were able to take tea in the garden 
almost every day* 

Hitherto Delius had rarely left the house except 
to sit in the open facing the garden in the shelter of 
the porch to the main door. On one of these rare 
occasions I was sitting beside him, reading aloud, 
when there came a knock on the door. 

'Eric, would you mind answering it ?' said he* 'The 
servants are busy down the garden, I believe/ 

I opened the tiny door within the porte-cochere^ and 
a strange young man greeted me in English: 

'Excuse me, sir. I am a reporter from the British 
United Press in Paris. May I speak to Mr. Delius ?' 

Before I could say a word, from out the mass of 
top-coats, rugs, mufflers, and screens not two yards 
away came a loud and angry voice, 'I can't see him. 

55 



56 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

Tell him I'm out I 3 Whereupon the young man, 

greatly astonished, bowed and quickly walked away. 

Earlier in the year Sir Thomas Beecham had given 
a Delius concert to a private audience at Kingsway 
Hall, and this, happily for us, was broadcast. The 
programme, much to Delius's delight, included Paris 
and two works which were greatly neglected in those 
days -Dance Rhapsody No. a and Eventyr, a ballad 
for orchestra inspired by the 'once upon a time' of 
Norwegian folk-lore". 

Delius was very amused by Sir Thomas's remarks, 
before conducting the Dance Rhapsody. In words 
something like .these we heard him say, c Ladies and 
gentlemen, the next piece we are going to pky is the 
least known of Delius's orchestral works - his second 
Dance Rhapsody. This is not strange, for, though this 
unfortunate work has been given on several occasions, 
it has not yet been heard at all ! You will now hear 
the first performance F 

He then gave a thrilling interpretation, and Delius, 
in his usual manner of addressing the conductor as 
if he were in the room, said, 'Perfect, Thomas; 
perfect V Each work brought forth comment such 
as this, and by the end of the programme his en- 
thusiasm knew no bounds. 

4 I should be content with a few superlative per- 
formances like these each year/ he afterwards con- 
fided, 'rather than the mediocre ones that I all too 
frequently hear/ 

As he himself was unable to do so, Delius usually 
insisted on my following broadcast performances of 
his music with the full scores. His criticisms were often 



AN INTERLUDE 57 

scathing. More than once I have heard him exclaim, 
'Whatever should I do without Beecham V 

In the light of what followed, it seemed to us that 
this concert had been something in the nature of an 
experiment, for now Sir Thomas wrote to say that he 
intended organising a festival of Delius's music, 
which he hoped would take place that autumn. 

Delius merely wagged his head and said that it 
sounded 'too good to be true.* 

Flying visits from Barjansky and Balfour Gardiner 
broke the monotony of our weeks of loneliness. The 
latter, especially, was most encouraging, and sug- 
gested schemes for making various Hassan suites. 
All these projects came to nothing in the end, but 
they provided me with a great deal of experience and 
work, which I found invaluable later on. 

Shortly after Easter we had three more visitors - 
Roger Quilter, of whom Delius was particularly fond, 
Dr. Simon, then editor of the Frankfurter Zeitung 
and an old and valued friend, and Professor Dent, 
who was busy working on his study of Busoni, and 
had come to talk to Delius about their mutual friend. 

I remember that it struck me as very strange that 
Delius had so little to say about Busoni, but a great 
deal about old Ferdinando, Gerda, and Benni. Later 
in the day, when the professor had gone, Delius told 
me how much he had admired Busoni when first they 
had met, but, almost in spite of himself, he had had 
to admit that Busoni had never acted quite fairly with 
him. He had promised to play Delius *s Pianoforte 
Concerto - that is, the first version -but when the 
time had come, and Delius had left his work at Grez 

K 



58 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

and gone purposely to Berlin at Busoni's invitation 
to hear it, Busoni had made excuses at the last moment 
and withdrawn it from the programme. There had 
not been time to prepare it properly; he would play 
it at his next concert. But, somehow or other, it 
was always the same tale, and so poor Delius had 
wasted a whole winter's work hanging about Berlin in 
miserable uncertainty, and this at a stage when he 
had very little money, and when the performance of 
his music by the already established Busoni would 
have meant everything to him. 

When eventually Busoni had tried to make amends 
by conducting the first performance of Paris at his 
second concert of new music at the Beethoven-Saal 
in November of 1902, Delius complained that 
'Busoni did not know the score/ and that 'the work 
went so badly, I could hardly recognise my own 
music I* 

According to his wife, Delius turned deathly pale 
during the performance, and made no comment when 
the music ceased. The next day they left for Grez 
and home. 

There was always this to be said for Delius ; that 
no matter how much they maltreated his music - 
and, judging by what he has told me at various times, 
he must have endured some ghastly performances in 
his day -his belief in himself and his work was 
unshakable. 

Interesting as all these visitors were, I burned with 
curiosity to meet that young man who had done so 
much for Delius since he was little more than a 
schoolboy - Philip Heseltine. Delius had made scant 



AN INTERLUDE 59 

reference to him when I had enquired about him, and 
I gathered that there had been some slight estrange- 
ment between them, so I had dropped the subject. 

Imagine my surprise when, one morning, on going 
down to lunch, I discovered that Heseltine and 
several other people had arrived unexpectedly. They 
were not at their full strength, they told us, for they 
had missed 'Old Raspberry' 1 on the way ; he would 
probably be coming along later in the day ! 

Delius, extremely sensitive at all times to his 
physical disabilities, and pathetically so in the presence 
of strangers, was furious, and refused to see Philip. 
Why had he brought this crowd of people with him ? 
Finally, after some gentle persuasion on the part of 
his wife, Delius agreed to be carried downstairs, and 
so the whole party stayed to lunch. Conversation 
was not easy, for the others, excepting Anthony 
Bernard, appeared to be entirely unmusical, and it 
was natural that we should want to talk about music. 
There were, however, occasional flashes of brilliant 
observation from Heseltine. I envied him his splendid 
command of words, and liked the way he looked you 
full in the eye whilst addressing you. Few people do 
this. I shall never forget him for it. 

I could see that Delius was still ruffled and not at his 
ease, and I was relieved when they had taken him 
away to rest, and I was sauntering down the garden 
path with Heseltine, leaving Mrs. Delius to amuse his 
friends. We chatted affably enough, but by the time 
we had reached the pond I found myself wondering 
whether this could possibly be the same Heseltine 

1 The identity of this musician must remain a mystery, 



60 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

who had written that glowing book about Delius and 
his work, for whenever there was an opening to attack 
the music he had once championed, he thrust his 
critical rapier in, hilt and all. I knew nothing at the 
time of the reactionary phase through which Heseltine 
was then passing in respect of Delius's music, and it 
astonished me greatly to hear him say that out of 
Delius's enormous output, three of the major works 
only would live- Sea-drift, A VillageRomeo and Juliet, 
and Appalachia. Whether he persisted in this attitude 
to the end, I do not know* 

It must not be imagined that I have been a blind 
admirer of Delius's music, but I was not prepared to 
dismiss all save a handful of works as entirely worth- 
less, I agreed with him that Sea-drift and A Village 
Romeo and Juliet were great masterpieces, but I would 
not have placed Appalachia in their company; nor 
could I understand his enthusiasm for a comparatively 
poor piece like the Air and Dance for strings. 

(I remember how, after the performance of Appa- 
lachia at the Delius Festival later that year, we were 
coming down in the lift together at the Langham 
Hotel, after having escorted Delius safely across from 
Queen's Hall, and Heseltine saying, 'Well, Fenby, 
what do you think of it now ? Wasn't it magnificent ? 
It's a superb work !' 

Tm sorry/ 1 replied, 'but I still think the opening is 
slovenly, and, if I may say so, the whole work much 
too long. The amazing thing to my mind is that some 
of the best variations are as fine as they are, when one 
considers the rather silly tune on which they are 
built/) 



AN INTERLUDE 6l 

Appalachia has never been a particular favourite of 
mine. 

From Delius he turned to van Dieren, for whom, 
both as composer and man, he had the warmest 
admiration. Did I know his music, and had I heard 
the last quartet which van Dieren had dedicated to 
him ? He would send me a score, for it was a 'super- 
latively fine work/ Had Fred heard Bartdk's Quartet 
(No. 4) the other night on the wireless ? 

Now it happened that just at that moment we were 
about to enter the living-room again; Delius had 
already been brought down from his nap, and was 
holding forth to Bernard about some work being 
'infantile and horrible/ 

'What is that, Fred, that you are talking about ?' 
asked Heseltine. 

'Oh, Bartok's Fourth Quartet/ replied Delius. 'Did 
you hear it, Phil ?' 

'Yes/ 

'So did I. I thought it was dreadful ! I'm sick 
and tired to death of all this laboured writing, all this 
unnecessary complication, these harsh, brutal, and 
uncouth noises. How anybody can listen to such 
excruciating sounds with understanding and pleasure 
is beyond me ! What did you think of it, Phil ?' 

'I'm sorry, Fred, but I don't agree with you. I 
think it's a masterpiece. For sheer beauty of sound 
it is one of the wonders of music.' 

'Well,' sighed Delius, shaking his head, 'well I . . .* 
and relapsed into silence. 

After tea Heseltine asked me to take him up to the 
music-room. He could not believe that 'old Fred' 



62 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

(Delius) was trying to work again, and when he saw 
what had been done he exclaimed, 'My God, how you 
both must have slaved at this !* 

It was now getting dark, so he proposed that the party 
should leave, and walk over to Marlotte to see his Uncle 
Joe (Joe Heseltine). 'No visit to Europe is complete/ 
said he, 'unless one has seen old Joe's pictures/ In fact, 
there was one masterpiece, showing a horse and cart 
coming down a road, but the proportions of the cart 
had somehow got so much out of hand that he had 
been obliged to sew another lump of canvas on, 
higher up the road, to get the cart in ! Old Fred and 
old Joe had not been on very friendly terms since the 
war, for old Joe had gone about telling everybody that 
Delius was a German spy, . and that the strategic 
point of the whole world war was centred on the 
bridge at Grez. It had been a blind, Delius's living 
there all these years. He had been posted there by 
the Germans, and they knew what they were about. 
Every night he was up there in the church tower 
signalling to the enemy. Feeling in the village had 
become so hostile that on one occasion they had 
broken Fred's windows. 

I saw very little of old Joe - once when he was 
sitting asleep at a local sale, under a white-hot sun, 
amid the shouts of the bidders and the crashes of the 
hammer, and now and then strolling about the streets 
of Fontainebleau, He used to come over from 
Marlotte to see Delius on an old tricycle fitted up 
with all manner of gadgets and accessories - his 
painting outfit, his waterproof, his kettle, and a 
complete change of clothes. Having knocked at the 



AN INTERLUDE 63 

great door and been admitted, he would take no notice 
of anyone, but calmly wheel his machine into the 
courtyard, and then, retiring behind the pergola, 
would change his entire outfit. Not until he emerged 
did the visit begin. 

Our rowdy friends had not been gone more than a 
few minutes when 'Old Raspberry' drove up in a 
taxi; but we pushed him in again and directed the 
driver to Marlotte. Delius had had enough for one 
day. 

Within a fortnight Philip Heseltine was back again, 
discussing the coming festival and acting as a link 
between the composer and Sir Thomas Beecham. 
This time he came alone, and stayed at a little ion 
kept by an Italian hard by the canal at Moncourt, the 
tiny hamlet I have already mentioned, which is 
reached by taking the lane over the bridge at Grez 
and continuing along it until one has crossed the canal. 

Two or three days before this second visit I had 
started to read Cecil Gray's History of Music to Delius* 
but the old man, much to my annoyance, had insisted 
on skipping the chapter on Gregorian chant. This 
did not deter me from reading it for myself, and I was 
glad that I did so, for I thought it the best essay I 
had ever read on that fascinating subject. I was 
therefore full of it when Heseltine came, and was not 
surprised to find that he, too, agreed with me. The 
discovery that I knew and admired so much of that 
older and satisfying music that was so dear to his 
heart delighted him,, and we ferreted about in our 
minds for the names of such old motets, masses, and 
madrigals as contained some delicious harmonic 



64 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

touch or daring modulation as had never failed to 
captivate us. He had been luckier than I, for he had 
heard them in actual performance, whereas I had 
merely read them or played them at the keyboard. 
In Sir Richard Terry's time, he told me, he had been 
continually in and out of Westminster Cathedral. 
The music in those days had been worth hearing. 
He deplored the general apathy of the Catholic 
clergy to the glorious music of the Church. It was a 
pity that priests were so seldom musical, and, when 
they were musically inclined, they were usually 
amateurs of the worst type. I, too, had often re- 
marked that, contrary to common belief, monks, 
nuns, and priests were usually quite unmusical, and 
that a religious temperament rarely went hand in 
hand with a musical feeling. 

At this moment Delius's carriage came into sight 
round the bend by the bamboos, and, mindful of the 
fact that Delius had about as much use for monks, 
nuns, and priests as he had for that older music, I 
winked at Heseltine, who, having said that for years 
he had had no patience with Fred's eternal tiltings at 
Christianity, began a very knowledgeable discourse 
on the decline of English beer. 

That night after supper Heseltine suggested that 
I should walk back to Moncourt and sit and drink 
with him. When I hesitated, he looked at me appeal- 
ingly and said, Tor God's sake, Fenby, do come, I 
cannot bear to be alone ! Bring the miniature score 
of Fred's Quartet; I haven't seen it for ages, and we'll 
read it together.' 

As we crossed the ugly modern bridge at Moncourt, 



AN INTERLUDE 65 

we idled a little by the railings, peering down into 
the hold of a neat and brightly painted barge, which 
they had been loading with white sand. A great 
Alsatian looked up at us as it sprawled beside the 
mast, and, seeing that we meant no harm, buried its 
head in its paws. Some men were smoking and 
drinking at a little table under an enormous poplar 
which stood in stately solitude outside the buvette at 
the corner of the street. They took no notice of us 
as we passed by, nor did the two barge mules that 
were grazing contentedly on the little common, and 
as we walked on by the edge of the canal the golden 
rim of the setting sun disappeared behind the trees 
at the other side of the water, and all was peace. 

We entered the inn, and Heseltine called for red 
wine. We had not gone far with our reading of the 
Quartet when the door opened and Alden Brooks and 
Matthew Smith came in, but, observing that we were 
immersed in some musical discussion, they left us 
alone to it, and did not join us until Heseltine, 
suddenly exasperated, threw the score down on the 
table in utter disgust and declared in a loud voice that 
Fred could not write for strings. If only he had half 
of Elgar's cunning in this respect ! Give him his 
way, and he would make every student buy the score 
of Elgar's Introduction and Allegro for Strings, for 
he considered it to be the finest piece of writing for 
strings in the whole literature of music. He got up 
excitedly and paced about the room, and Brooks 
chaffed him, and Smith eyed him whimsically through 
his large spectacles, and said nothing. 

And when we had settled all the questions of the 



66 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

day, and had drunk far more than was good for us, we 
remembered that even artists must sometimes go to 
bed. Had we known how little we were to see 
Heseltine again before his tragic death, there would 
have been no inclination to go to bed that night at alL 
I was sorry when he left for London the next evening, 
and for the first time since my arrival in Grez I felt 
homesick. But I had become so attached to Delius 
and his wife that I could not leave them, for had not 
they just told me that I had supplied a want in their 
simple life so perfectly that they could not now 
imagine it without me ? 

They had always thought it unaccountable that I 
had suddenly come, like a bolt out of the blue, arid 
adapted myself to their needs, yet I knew that the 
secret of our happy relationship was simply this - that 
I always knew when to keep quiet. There were 
evenings when I had pushed the old man up the 
Marlotte road in his carriage, and from leaving the 
house to returning to it, over an hour later, there had 
never been a word spoken between us. 'Thank you, 
lad, that was grand F he would say as I afterwards 
left him when they had come to carry him up to 
bed. 

I have always been a great lover of dogs, and by this 
time I had made friends with most of the dogs of the 
village, so that now I rarely went out alone. One 
night, on one of these silent walks, we collected no 
less than five of my friends as we passed along the 
village street. They accompanied us slowly and 
silently up the road, turning when we turned, with 
never a bark, not even at one another, and so 



AN INTERLUDE 67 

completely were they in tune with our mood that 
Delhis never knew they were there. 

Sometimes we varied this evening procedure by 
going on the river, Delius used to sit in a deck-chair 
propped up with cushions, iri the wide, flat-bottomed 
boat which was always anchored ready for use among 
the water-lilies in a tiny inlet beneath the mighty trees 
that stretched far out over the river, sheltering the 
fishermen from the fierce heat of the sun as they dozed 
over their rods. In the cool of the evening I loved 
nothing better than to take the oars and row the old 
man and his wife up as far as le bout du monde, and, 
turning, let the boat drift back with the current. And 
when with difficulty we had landed our frail and 
precious burden, and were wheeling him up to the 
house, through the garden fragrant with the delicious 
scent of lilac and apple-blossom under the blue and 
cloudless sky, it seemed that of all young musicians I 
was the most highly favoured to be here, and in my 
contentment my loneliness left me. 



8 



I HAD been looking through a great pile of pencilled 
sketches of all manner of works that Delius had 
made before I was born and, coming upon a 
particularly faded manuscript, I racked my brain to 
place it in the list of his published works. I could not 
remember it at all, and yet, at the entry of the voice, 
there was a tiny figure in the wood-wind that instantly 
brought to mind Songs of Sunset. 

I was on the point of dismissing it as nothing more 
than some rejected sketch, for Delius often turned 
back to his very early work and extracted a lovely bar 
here and sometimes a fine passage there (for instance, 
one of those fine soaring passages in the 'Cello Sonata 
appears almost note for note in an early romance for 
'cello and piano; the germ of that beautiful and 
romantic melody in Paris which steals in on the violas 
is to be found in an early tone poem for orchestra 
called Hiawatha. Delius's music teems with examples 
of this habit. In fact, in a much more subtle and less 
obvious degree, the score of A Village Romeo and 
Juliet contains the germs of all the music that was to 
come after it, and is a happy hunting-ground for 
people who have time for this sport). I was on the 
point of dismissing it, I say, when it occurred to me 
that it would be fun to play it over. This was not 
easy, for, after the first page, there were no indications 

68 



AN INTERLUDE 69 

in the wood-wind and brass as to what instruments 
these faintly pencilled notes and phrases were to be 
given, and at first sight I could only surmise, by their 
vague positions on the score-paper, that such and such 
a phrase looked like a bassoon counterpoint, and some 
such other looked like an English-horn part* Gradu- 
ally I got the hang of the thing as far as it went, for it 
was unfinished, but the supper-bell rang out from the 
porch before I could place the words. I did not know 
Dowson's poem at the time, and when I went down 
to supper I asked Delius if he remembered making a 
rough draft of a work for baritone and orchestra, in 
which he had used that little four-note figure that 
haunts the pages of Songs of Sunset i 



To which he replied that he did not, but that if I 
would play it over to him that night he might be able 
to enlighten me. 

When they had taken him up to bed and had opened 
the doors to the music-room, the gods lent me their 
fingers and their eyes, and one of them even held the 
great score-paper up, such a fumbler am I when it 
comes to turning over 1 Yet they never came to help 
me in my boyhood, when, alone in the organ-loft, I 
have struggled with some puck of a page that had the 
very devil in it - but why bring that in here ? My 
organ days are done. 

Yes, he remembered it now. It was a sketch for a 
setting of Dowson's 'Cynara/ He had written it 
twenty-four years before, intending to include it as 



yo DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

one of the numbers in Songs of Sunset which he was 
then composing. But he had found that, like old Joe 
Heseltine's cart, it did not quite fit into the picture, so 
he had left it unfinished, and had never given it a 
thought since. 

Before saying good night, I read through the poem 
to him, and several days later he was carried up to the 
music-room and, as I recollect only too well, began to 
work on the score again with an excitement that 
puzzled me. 

The completed score was sent to Philip Heseltine 
(who knew of its existence in sketch form), who 
wrote to Delius saying that he was delighted with the 
beautiful way in which the composer had been able to 
finish it. Cynara received its first performance at the 
Delius Festival four months later. It is not one of 
Delius's happiest inspirations, but there was a moment 
in the green-room at Queen's Hall when, suddenly 
coming in from the noise of the street, I heard the 
distant sounds of its quietly ascending introduction 
for divided strings as it was being rehearsed, and there 
seemed to be no fairer music in the world than this. 
But, then, I was starved. I had not heard the sound 
of the orchestra in the concert-room for over a year. 

Another work which I unearthed for tHe festival 
was a setting for tenor voice and orchestra of Henley's 
poem, 'The Late Lark/ This had been misplaced, 
though not forgotten, and the old man had been most 
anxious that I should turn the place upside down, if 
need be, to find it, for he had a rare affection for it, 
and, once it was found, was continually asking me to 
play it over to him. Together with A Poem of Life 



AN INTERLUDE 71 

and Love> he had sketched it out just before his sight 
had failed him. There were one or two minor adjust- 
ments to be made before it finally satisfied him, and 
several lines in the voice part which had yet to be 
filled in ; this he did by dictation. 

I wonder what Donizetti or old Rossini would have 
had to say about this tame, contemptuous after- 
thought of a vocal line ? Probably something quite 
as unprintable as Delius's opinion of the poverty- 
stricken accompaniments which they had written to 
their immortal arias ! Still, I knew that of the two 
evils I preferred the - dare I say it ? - more musical 
and instrumental style of the Italians in writing for 
the voice. Enough has been said about both schools, 
but for me there is no more to be said of the poetry, 
sunny grace, the easy, effortless, cast-away-care rhap- 
sody of that spontaneous thing of beauty, a lovely 
Italian aria, than that it is pure music, just pure music. 
A third-rate Rossini is more bearable than a second- 
rate Wolf, but Wolf is - well, what can one say of a 
song like *Wer sich der Einsamkeit ergibt/ that brings 
the tears to one's eyes with its opening chords, or of 
an aria like 'Una voce poco fa qui nel cor,' except that 
we should be truly grateful for them both, worlds 
apart though they be ? Delius, in writing for the 
voice, had neither feeling for line nor feeling for words. 
Awkward in these things though he was, he was never 
careless. As with Cynara, I was astonished to find 
that he took more pains with what he considered to be 
the correct declamation of Henley's words than he did 
with the shape of the melodic line to which they were 
to be sung. 



72 DELIUS'AS I KNEW HIM 

Once, when I had read the poem through to him - 

A late lark twitters from the quiet skies; 

And from the west, 

Where the sun, his day's work ended, 

Lingers as in content, 

There falls on the old, grey city 

An influence luminous and serene, 

A shining peace. 

The smoke ascends 

In a rosy-and-golden haze. The spires 

Shine, and are changed. In the valley 

Shadows rise. The lark sings on. The sun, 

Closing his benediction, 

Sinks, arid the darkening air 

Thrills with the sense of the triumphing night - 

Night with her train of stars 

And her great gift of sleep. 

So be my passing ! 

My task accomplished and the long day done, 

My wages taken, and in my heart 

Some late lark singing, 

Let me be gathered to the quiet west, 

The sundown splendid and serene, 

Death - 

and had finished playing his setting of it, he said, 'Yes, 
that is how I want to go/ 

Though he had often seemed so near to death, and 
had so often startled me by looking its very image, 
as he sat propped up in his chair listening to our 
reading, he had never referred to it before save 
once, and this rather mockingly. In his youth he 
had been nearly shipwrecked off the coast of Norway, 
and, when all had seemed lost, a parson, in his bunk 
below, had annoyed him so much by his long and 



AN INTERLUDE 73 

lugubrious praying aloud that Delius had called out 
to him, 'Look here, my friend, just make less row. 
You can't be so keen to go to that heaven of yours if 
you're so anxious to be saved P 

Having related this incident, he added thoughtfully, 
'So long as I can enjoy the taste of my food and drink, 
and hear the sound of my music, I want to live. 
Not being able to see does not trouble me. I have 
my imagination. Besides, I have seen the best of 
the earth and done everything that is worth doing; 
I am content. I have had a wonderful life.* 

Death, when it did come to him, was indeed 
terrible. 



PERCT GRAINGER had been a great favourite of 
Delius from the day they had met, when Grainger 
was a fascinating young fellow, full of original 
ideas, with the energy of a team of men and the looks 
of an Apollo. They had seen a great deal of each 
other in those pre-war days of which I and the rest 
of my generation can hope to know nothing; happy 
days in England, when Delius was still well, and in 
Germany, when he could still see and was yet able to 
shuffle along by the help of a supporting arm. Latterly 
Grainger had visited Delius at his tiny house up in 
the wilds of Norway, and to the Herculean efforts of 
his young friend he owed one of the sights of his 
lifetime, and this just before it was too late. Delius, 
with something of that same restlessness t&at had 
animated his youth when, the moment work was 
done, he would rush off for a long walk, or a long 
cycle-ride, or a strenuous holiday climbing the 
mountains in his beloved Norway, and anxious to 
add another leaf to that inner book on which he was 
soon solely to rely, had insisted on being carried up a 
high mountain close by, to watch the marvellous 
sunset on the great hills in the distance. Grainger 
at one end, and Mrs. Delius and two servants at the 
other, had borne the brunt of that seven hours' 
ascent, lugging him up the mountain track in an 

74 



AN INTERLUDE 75 

improvised chair on poles. As they had neared the 
summit all had seemed in vain, for enormous clouds 
now piled themselves up as if to spite the very moun- 
tains their grandeur, so jealously did they hide the 
sun from view. But at the great moment, 'knowing 
that Nature never did betray the heart that loved her/ 
not even so far as to deny this singer a last sight of the 
high hills whose song he had sting, the clouds dis- 
persed at her bidding, and the dreamer revelled in his 
sunset. Within a few minutes a dense mist had settled 
over the scene, and the party began the perilous 
descent. 

** 

And now Grainger announcedhis intention of spend- 
ing a fortnight in Grez that June (1929). Delius was 
delighted. A few days before his arrival I received a 
parcel of arrangements of his music, 'dished up* for one 
or two pianos, with a note saying that he would like to 
play them over with me to Fred. Amongst these were 
'The Arrival Platform Humlet* - the sort of thing one 
was expected to whistle whilst awaiting the arrival of 
one's girl at the station 'The Drunken Sailor,* 'The 
Stable-boy's Romance/ several 'Room-music Tit- 
Bits/ his 'Hill-Song/ and an excellent MS. arrange- 
ment for twb pianos of Delius 's Song of the High Hills. 
There were 'many more to follow,* and some 'choral 
and piano-scores (to sing from),* but these we did not 
need. All these arrangements, with their curious 
directions - 'louden slightly,' 'louden Tots,' 'accom- 
panyingly,' 'very rhythmidy but not unclingingly* - 
were obviously the work of a first-rate musician, 
certainly of a very unusual person. 



76 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

It was a sweltering day, with scarcely a breath of 
air, and the gardener was in hiding down the garden 
with his bottle of red wine, when Grainger and his 
wife, a sturdy and good-looking Scandinavian with 
soft eyes, walked into the courtyard below. To our 
astonishment, Grainger said that he felt cold, and 
shortly afterwards appeared wearing thick breeches 
with puttees, a heavy shirt, and an enormous sweater. 
He must have been nearer fifty than forty, but he 
looked not a day older than thirty. He had a fine, 
arresting, yet rather boyish head, and I liked the look 
in his eyes. But for his fair bushy hair, one would 
have thought that here was a professional athlete. 
He was smaller than I had expected him to be, and 
moved with all the alacrity of a man very wide awake. 

The more vigorous sports have never been in my 
line, but that fortnight I did more chasing about than 
in all my schooldays put together. Up with the 
blacksmith in the morning, Grainger used" to drag me 
out of bed to go running with him. Now, I should 
not have minded a gentle trot before breakfast each 
morning, but when you were expected to gallop along 
and catch a ring that was being thrown at you like 
lightning from all angles, to fling it back with equal 
zest, and to keep up this strenuous performance for as 
long as you were able, I regretted that I had misspent 
my sports days idling with a book whilst my more 
active schoolfellows showed off their prowess before 
adoring females. This galloping about was not 
confined to out of doors. Grainger would dash from 
one room to another, and, bounding down the stair- 
case in two jumps, fly through the doorway in mid-air 



AN INTERLUDE 77 

and land with a crash beside Delius's carriage half-way 
across the yard ; the old man would shake his head and 
say that he really could not bear it. 

Once when we had gone round to see Brooks, and 
were sitting on the terrace overlooking his garden, 
somebody made a remark about an amazing jump he 
had witnessed; in fact, it was almost as high as the 
terrace. 

'Why, that's nothing,' said Grainger, and, before 
we could say a word, he had sprung up from his 
seat, cleared the parapet, and disappeared from 
sight ! 

'Thank God there isn't a greenhouse down there/ 
said I to Brooks, who was still sitting speechless in his 
chair. A few seconds later Grainger came running 
up the steps from the garden, and would have jumped 
over again had we not forcibly dissuaded him. I had 
noticed that if he accompanied us on our evening 
walks, he never left the house with us in the normal 
way, but always sprang into our midst from a window 
facing the street. Brooks now began to dare him to do 
this, that, and the other, but Grainger could do 
everything. And when they had said that there was 
one thing he could not do, namely, to stand on the 
terrace below the house and from there throw a tennis- 
ball over the house, then run up the dozen steps to 
the door, through the house, and catch it before it 
fell into the yard on the other side, and, incredible 
though it may seem, he had done it three times, I took 
his arm and led him home, lest in the end he should 
break his neck. 

I had never seen such energy in a man. It was 



78 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

unhuman. He was always impatient when walking, 
and was for ever wanting to run. He could not 
understand why we forbade him to gallop up the road 
with Delius in his carriage ! Despite his tremendous 
energy, he was rarely hungry, ate very little, was a 
non-smoker, non-drinker, and a vegetarian. Whilst 
we delighted in the pleasure of the table, he would sit 
with his bran and his glass of 'Chateau de Pump' - 
tepid water with a few drops of milk in it -and 
Delius would say, * Jelka, stuff Percy well with oatmeal 
and macaroni; we know better, don't we, Eric ?' 

On the first evening on which he played to us, I 
had walked through the corridor from Delius's 
bedroom to the music-room to tell Grainger that 
Delius was ready, when I was astonished to find him 
patting his knees furiously. Then, when he was black 
in the face, he sat back, calmed himself and was ready 
to play. After a very spirited performance of Chopin's 
B Minor Sonata - Delius *s favourite work of Chopin 
- 1 ventured to ask him about that other performance, 
to which he replied that it was an exercise which he 
invariably did before going on to the platform. It 
consisted of four pats to the second, and this he kept 
up for a minute and a half. He must always feel 
excited before he could play. 

I tried it for thirty seconds, and could not play at 
all! 

The first time we played together he stopped me 
after a few bars and said, *Fenby, you're a composer, 
are you not ?' I answered that I was fond of writing 
music, if th^r was the same thing. 

'I thought so/ he commented. 'It's a theory of mine 



AN INTERLUDE 79 

that people like you all play alike; you do the same 
sort of things in your playing at precisely the same 
sort of places. I have noticed it again and again/ 

Grainger was full of theories. There was scarcely 
a subject on which he talked (and he talked very 
brilliantly at times) without bringing in some pet 
theory of his - in fact, Delius said that he was 'bunged 
up with theories/ I could never understand his love 
of the harmonium as an instrument in the orchestra, 
and was amazed when he said, with all seriousness, 
that he wished the wood-wind of the orchestra could 
employ the perpetual tremolo of the cinema organ. 
During his stay with Delius he orchestrated his 'Hill- 
Song' for the fourth time. The pages of his scores 
were so thick with alterations, which had been glued 
one on top of the other, that Mrs. Delius used to say 
that one could have built houses out of them. 

Grainger was extraordinarily frank about his own 
music, and claimed that Delius had been much 
influenced by it. Yet I never heard him boast. One 
afternoon on the river he told me, with the utmost 
.nonchalance, that Beecham had said, 'Grainger, your 
"Colonial Song" is the worst piece -of music I have 
ever set eyes on P It was impossible not to admire the 
independent spirit of this charming Australian, even 
though one differed so greatly from him on most of 
the things he said, and, as I look back on those happy 
days, my chief recollection of him is his kindness. 
What could one say more of any man ? 

In August of 1929 Evlyn and Grace Howard-Jones 
took a cottage in the village, and, having given the 
old peasant woman next door a few francs to wring the 



8o DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

neck of the lame cock-bird that woke them up before 
sunrise, settled down peaceably for two months. 

No sharper contrast could possibly be imagined 
than that which existed between the playing of these 
two celebrated pianists. Grainger played his own 
works and those of Grieg with the wild gaiety of a 
schoolboy, whereas Howard-Jones played with all 
the classical control and restraint of a fine teacher. 
Delius, although he loved it the least of all his works, 
always contended that Howard- Jones's interpretation 
of his Pianoforte Concerto was the best he had ever 
heard. 

The heat was now terrific, and one could not walk 
with pleasure after seven in the morning until seven 
at night. Almost every day there were loud beatings 
of drums and blowings of trumpets to warn the 
villagers of the approaching forest fires. For three 
days it seemed that now we had touched the other 
fierce extreme of an Inferno. Delius was in agony, 
and work impossible. On the morning of the third day 
the old gardener said that we should have a violent 
thunderstorm that night, and, when the rain had fallen 
in torrents and the air was fit to breathe again, it did 
one good to look out over that summer garden all 
ablaze with colour, and share its quiet, refreshing 
mood - the mood that had so often inspired its owner 
with thoughts of leisured musical loveliness. 

Both Howard- Jones and his wife were ever ready 
to come and play to Delius whenever he felt like music, 
but it was not easy for them, for the works for violin 
and piano that he could still listen to with enjoyment 
were pitiably few in number. 



AN INTERLUDE 8l 

Once when there had been some heated remarks 
about Beethoven's pianoforte sonatas, Howard- Jones 
had declared the Op. no in Ab to be 'great music/ 
Delius challenged him: 'Well, play it, then !' And 
so it was arranged that on the following day, after 
tea, Howard-Jones was to play this sonata. Delius 
and I were seated beneath the open music-room 
window for this recital. All through the sonata the. 
old man was restless, and frowned as he followed the 
music. 'Listen - listen,' he kept on saying and 
pointing excitedly with his finger the while (he could 
only do this when aroused). 'Listen - banal - banal 
- listen - listen, my boy - fillings - fillings !' When 
the music had ceased, and Howard- Jones had come 
beaming down the stairs to receive * his bouquet, all 
he got for his pains was, *Evlyn, why do you waste 
your time practising such rubbish ?' 

Delius liked Howard- Jones, except when the latter 
began to discuss religion. 

'Why ever does he want to argue about religion on 
such a lovely night as this ?' he complained in that 
slow and rather mocking tone into which he relapsed 
when one of those quips of dry humour (that passed 
his lips with never a smile) was on its way. He had 
just said good night to Howard-Jones following a 
lively argument during the evening walk, and, as I 
wheeled him in his carriage down the street, with the 
peasants all sitting at their doors and saluting us as 
we passed, I noticed with amusement that his hat was 
still at a rakish angle after he had accidentally knocked 
it so in a feeble attempt to brush a mosquito from his 
face. 



82 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

*He reminds me of Runciman/ 1 he went on 
cantankerously. 'Rundman used to come purposely 
every Sunday when he stayed in Grez to argue about 
religion with me . , . and . . . well . . . you know, 
he knew I wasn't keen on Jesus !* 

One morning in early August, as I was practising 
with Howard- Jones at his cottage for a concert we 
were giving that afternoon when Delius was to come to 
tea, Hildegarde, with cheeks redder than the apples 
in the orchard, burst in to say that Delius was in the 
garden and calling for me. Would I return im- 
mediately, as he was most impatient. 

I found the old man sitting in his carriage by the 
stone table under the elder-tree down the garden, and 
looking like one possessed. He had thought out an 
entirely new opening for the work which is now known 
as A Song of Summer, and, having told me to fetch 
score-paper and pencil, and to imagine that we were 
sitting in the heather on the cliffs by the sea, he began 
to dictate. The following afternoon we went through 
the new opening at the piano, first at the proper speed 
and then slowly, and, when he had satisfied himself 
that every detail of the scoring was exactly as he would 
have it, I played through the whole work twice. The 
next morning, as soon as he had been carried down 
into the garden, he called for me to play it again, and, 
when I had gone downstairs from the music-room 
and joined him, he said, 'It's a good piece, lad ! Write 
the score out in ink/ He had barely uttered these 
words when the roundabout organ began. It was 
the fete day of Grez. The entire village was seething 

1 John F. Runciman. 



AN INTERLUDE 83 

with excitement. The women rushed about preparing 
an enormous mid-day meal, laying the great tables in 
the shade of the courtyards of their houses whilst 
their menfolk idled by the gates, gossiping and shaking 
hands with relatives and friends from neighbouring 
villages. When the feast was over, a peace descended 
on the village, and even the roundabout organ took its 
siesta. Then the children became restless, and began 
to pour into the fair-ground. Gradually, from those 
sweet beginnings, there rose up such a din as only a 
noisy people like the French can make - ear-splitting 
blasts on cornets and bugles, the high-pitched, jerky 
songs with their silly tunes which the peasants bawl 
at the top of their voices, the crack of a dozen rifles 
at the firing-ranges, the raucous, penetrating voices of 
the women, the coarse laughter and shouts of the 
men, the screams of girls, and, above it all, the round- 
about organ with its full-throated siren, and all this 
commotion within a hundred yards of Delius's house I 
Even the simple copying out of the score was im- 
possible in this uproar, and, remembering that I was 
little more than a boy myself, I went out into the 
street, and round by the church up into the fair- 
ground, and mingled with the crowd. 

Our next visitor was that charming and genial 
Irishman, Norman O'Neill. Delius had already 
spoken of him with the greatest affection, and when 
they were together I could see that O'Neill was one 
of the very few people whom he loved. That im- 
personal, almost indifferent attitude which charac- 
terised most of his human relationships left him 
completely whenever mention was made of O'Neill, 



84 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

and when I think of the way in which he looked 
forward to O'Neill's yearly visits, and the delight with 
which he relished his friend's amusing accounts of the 
latest happenings in London - for the old man always 
smacked his lips over a bit of good, honest gossip - it 
is not strange that I can rarely think of O'Neill 
without hearing in my mind that unaccustomed 
friendliness which would creep into Delius's voice as 
he said, 'Norman is coming,' or, Tve heard from 
Norman this morning/ It was as if he had suddenly 
returned to the level of the normal balance of man- 
kind. All the nervous tension and sense of detach- 
ment that surrounded him, and made him so difficult 
and inaccessible, save on rare occasions, seemed to 
vanish with these words. 

When O'Neill died with such tragic suddenness, the 
old man was heart-broken. O'Neill was devoted to 
Delius, though not blindly. Of all men, he knew his 
Delius the man just as well as he knew his Delius the 
composer. He told me that Fred's music meant more 
to him than the work of any composer, past or present. 

I, for one, will always remember him with gratitude, 
for without his moral support and advice the diffi- 
culties with which I had to contend at Grez as time 
went on would have been too much for me. He 
understood everything. 

Delius now announced his intention of ceasing 
work. If he were to undertake the journey to England 
to attend the festival - and up to the very last moment 
he protested that, no matter by what easy stages he 
was to travel, the strain of it would kill him - if he 
were to undertake the journey in his state of health, 



AN INTERLUDE 85 

he must rest completely until the very day on which 
he was to start. Although Sir Thomas Beecham had 
written to say that he had made all the necessary 
arrangements for a motor ambulance to be despatched 
to Grez to take him comfortably by road to Boulogne, 
and from Folkestone to London, Delius still hesitated. 
Together with his wife, I played my part in persuad- 
ing him to go. 'Delius/ said I, 'you have not heard 
the sound of the orchestra for all these years. Think 
of the thrill you will get when you hear your music in 
the concert-room again ! Isn't that enough tempta- 
tion to risk it 

'Yes, yes, lad, I know,* he replied, 'but I haven't 
the strength, and when I die I want to die in Grez.'* 

Not until Sir Thomas finally took the bull by the 
horns, and came along in person from Fontainebleau 
to Grez, did Delius begin to entertain the idea with 
any seriousness. 

It was just such another sweltering day as we had 
endured on the arrival of Percy Grainger when Sir 
Thomas, immaculately dressed, hat in hand, carrying 
an armful of scores and smoking an enormous cigar, 
stepped briskly into the courtyard, but, unlike his 
colonial friend, he took the very first opportunity of 
divesting himself of as much apparel as the laws of 
decency would admit, and permitted his taxi to wait 
nine hours for him at the door with all the disregard 
for triviality of the true grand seigneur. He soon 
settled the matter with dignity and calm, so that 
Delius had not a word to say. His mission achieved, 
he sparkled with his wine, and was gay and light- 
hearted as only he can be, poking fun at everything 



86 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

and everybody in music, himself 'included- a thing 
I have rarely heard him do. He explained that he 
had been advised to drink but little, and, on Delius's 
insisting, * Do have another glass, Thomas/ he stood 
up, tested his foot carefully, and, pondering for a 
moment, as he fingered his beard, decided that it 
might stand another drop ! 

Sir Thomas had not brought his scores for nothing ; 
he was memorising them for the festival. I knew very 
little in those days about those blue-pencilled markings 
that covered every page, but it was not long before I 
was to realise that in effect they meant all the difference 
between a good performance and a bad one. There 
was scarcely an expression mark in that whole armful 
of scores that he had not altered or modified. I saw 
that his energy and industry were alike prodigious, 
and when, afterwards, we had gone up to the music- 
room, and he was playing Songs of Sunset from a vocal 
score, and calling out all the orchestration to me as I 
sat beside him with the full score on my knee, I 
marvelled at the accuracy with which he retained the 
orchestral detail in his head. 

A few days after Sir Thomas's visit I decided to 
leave Grez and await Delius in London. At lunch, 
on the day I left for England, the old man drank my 
health, and said that he would like to give me some- 
thing in memory of that year. He called to his wife to 
place that something in his hand, and, supporting his 
hand on hers, he said, 'Take this and wear it for me, 
my dear boy. You have given me a new lease of life.' 

I took his gift, fighting to keep back the tears, for of 
a sudden the laughter of the meal, the excitement of 



AN INTERLUDE 87 

the festival, the coming music, my return the following 
year - all these things were forgotten, and I felt how 
near I had been to this strange man during the past 
year. I opened the box. It contained his gold watch 
and chain* 



IO 



I SAW very little of Delius during the festival. 1 For 
the most part I was too busy helping Heseltine 
and Gibson, Sir Thomas's musical secretary at 
that time, in all the extra work that the festival 
entailed. Sir Thomas would come out from rehearsal 
and announce his intention of editing some score. 
Often he would mark it in the train on his way to 
conduct in the provinces, and send it back' with the 
guard on the next train so that we could get to work 
without delay. It was only possible for one person - 
two if you were extra polite - to delete the old mark- 
ings from the parts and copy the new ones into the 
wood-wind and brass* The copyists could not be 
called in to duplicate it until a complete set of string 
parts, was ready. Once when Sir Thomas caught me 
in the act of yawning in the green-room at Queen's 
Hall, he cocked his eye at me and said, 'Master 
Fenby, have you joined the night-shift ?* Indeed I 
had. Gibson and I had been working for nights at his 
office in Regent Street to the deafening accompani- 
ment of pneumatic drills, fearful, too, lest we should 
suddenly be demolished with the premises next door. 
And now he had taken it into his head to edit the 
enormous score of the Mass of Life I 

1 The Delius Festival consisted of four orchestral and choral concerts 
(Oct. i2th, iSth, s6th; Nov. ist) (Queen's Hall), and two chamber con- 
certs (Oct. iSth, 23rd) (Aeolian Hall) . 

88 



AN INTERLUDE 89 

Still, there were occasional morning drives with 
Delius in Richmond Park, when, as at Grez, I 
described everything of interest as we drove along. 
Best of all there was the pleasure of seeing him so 
enthralled in the sound of his music in the concert- 
hall. 

*You were right, Eric/ he turned to me and said, 
after the first work at the opening concert. 'How 
wonderful the orchestra sounds to me after all these 
years ! I am so glad I came/ 

Delius was greatly touched by the warmth of his 
reception and the spontaneous kindness of his many 
friends and admirers. 

Heseltine had the happy thought to bring his friend 
Augustus John along with him to the Langham Hotel, 
where Delius was staying as Sir Thomas's guest. 
John made a very fine sketch of the composer with 
lightning rapidity before going over to the concert 
with us. 

I left Delius, after the festival, full of praise for Sir 
Thomas Beecham's masterly interpretations of his 
music, the magnificent playing of the orchestras taking 
part, and the fine singing of Kennedy Scott's Phil- 
harmonic Choir in the Mass of Life, which had 
brought the festival to a spirited close. In some of his 
purely orchestral works it had seemed that Delius had 
been listening to them for the very first time, so 
perfectly had their inner meaning been grasped and 
realised in performance. That was the way he 
wanted his music to be played - Beecham's way 
and he hoped that the festival would do one thing 
above all else, and that, to establish a tradition by 



go DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

which his music should live. If there was to be a 
future for his music - and, despite his habitual 
egotism, there were moments when he was curiously 
humble about his work - it could only live in the tradi- 
tion which Beecham had been at such pains to create. 
The strain of listening intently to all the music of the 
festival had tired him. He longed for the quiet of 
Grez, and was most anxious to get back without delay. 
*I shall expect you in the early New Year, my boy/ 
he had said when I had taken my leave of him. 'By 
then I shall be rested and able to work again/ 

It was not until the end of January (1930), however, 
that Delius dictated a note to me saying that he was 
ready for work. I went out to him at once, but found 
him racked with pain so that one could do nothing but 
read aloud to him by the hour for days, whilst his 
wife endeavoured to calm him as best she could. The 
weather was mild, and there was nothing of that icy 
cold that had made the previous winter so unbearable, 
but there were heavy rains, and the river became a 
raging torrent that flooded the meadows opposite 
DeEus's house until the lane to Moncourt was 
impassable. It was scarcely light, for the sky was 
dark and sinister with hurrying clouds. Each day I 
went down on to the bridge, and when I saw the 
villagers standing about in little groups, the men quiet 
and thoughtful, the women in shawls, warning their 
children not to go too near the edge as they gazed over 
the waters, my mind instantly and always went back 
to the many times I had stood among the fisher-folk 
in the tiny villages of my native Yorkshire as they had 
looked out anxiously over the cruel sea. 



AN INTERLUDE 91 

By the end of March, Delius had been well enough 
to dictate his Third Sonata for violin and piano* 
This was a comparatively easy task, and the composer 
dictated it with astonishing rapidity. The few odds 
and ends of sketches the opening bars, a subsidiary 
theme, and the germ for the second subject of the first 
movement, a few bars of the second movement, and 
the themes for the last movement - dated from the 
war years, when concentration in Grez on a large work 
was impossible. Several times, when the Germans 
were nearing Paris, Delius and his wife had fled from 
Grez, taking with them their beloved picture, 
Gauguin's 'Nevermore/ and joined the sad procession 
of refugees who night and day thronged the high road 
from Fontainebleau. Once they had spent the night 
in a cattle-truck. 

When they could no longer bear the uncertainly and 
the ever-loudening noise of tbe approaching guns, 
they had buried the silver in the garden, disguised 
and barricaded the stone staircase down to the wine- 
cellar with innumerable barrow-loads of wood, so that 
it looked like the approach to a wood-shed, and, 
having crossed to England, had taken the boat from 
Newcastle to Norway, where they had remained until 
the Armistice. In their absence the house was used 
as an English officers' mess, and, up there in Norway, 
old Delius, like old Noah in Mr. Chesterton's poem, 
must have 'often said to his wife when he sat down to 
dine* that he didn't care what the soldiers did if they 
didn't get into the wine ! 

Some of my sunniest recoUecficais of Grez are the 
wine^tasting days, which Delias always treated with 



92 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

the greatest ceremony. I can picture him now, rolling 
that sensitive tongue of his round the wine, disputing 
other opinions, and pronouncing his own dictatorially. 
Although he could not see, I cannot remember him 
once confusing samples of a particular kind of wine 
that were somewhat similar in taste. He was as proud 
of his cellar as of his music. 

The Sonata finished, Delius sent for May Harrison, 
asking her to come to Grez that Easter to play it over 
for him. 

In the meantime Balfour Gardiner visited Grez, 
and this time brought with him his young friend, 
Patrick Hadley, the composer. It was decided that 
we should bottk the white wine, so Balfour Gardiner, 
with boyish enthusiasm, sat on a log pouring out the 
wine from a keg into the bottles with meticulous care, 
whilst Hadley corked them with a machine, and I 
wired them. The seventy bottles were then trans- 
ferred in triumph to the wine-cellar. The next job 
that Mrs. Delius found for us to tackle was a very 
unsightly overhanging branch of a tree by the river. 
Gardiner thought it wise to have the boat beneath it, 
to steady the branch when it fell into the water. So, 
saying that he would bring the boat round from the 
boathouse, which lies in a tiny inlet at the side of the 
garden, he despatched Hadley and me to fetch a ladder 
and saw. When we returned, we expected to find him 
at the scene of operations with the boat, but, instead, 
there he was gyrating helplessly in mid-stream, and 
battling with one oar against the strong current about 
fifty yards away down the river. The boat had not 
in use that winter, and the oars were still hanging 



AN INTERLUDE 93 

in the shed. Apparently there had been an odd oar 
lying in the boat, and Gardiner had thought that he 
could paddle round that short distance to the tree with 
it. When we had recovered from our surprise and 
laughter, I shouted to him that if he could only 
manage to back-water, and keep to our side of the 
bridge, we would be on the bridge as soon as we could, 
and drop him the other oar as he passed underneath. 
So up the village street we raced, with the other oar, 
to the great consternation of the villagers; but, to our 
horror, when we reached the bridge Gardiner had 
already passed under it and was heading for the 
dangerous weir down by the mill. Fortunately, just 
as the situation was getting very serious, the inn- 
keeper, happening to be in his garden, and seeing 
Gardiner's plight, put off in a boat, and event- 
ually towed him into safety. Hadley then said that 
he would join Gardiner in the boat, so I remained 
on the bridge and watched their repeated efforts to 
pass under the farthest arch where the current was 
the slightest. At last they succeeded in getting 
through, but they were so exhausted that I called out 
to them to put into the side, where I- would go down 
and take the oars. They took me on board, and all 
went well until, just as we were coming into the full 
force of the current, I missed my stroke, and back 
we shot under the bridge to where they had started. 
In the end, the innkeeper, a great, strong fellow like 
a prize-fighter, bared his enormous chest and, rolling 
his sleeves up, muttered something disparagingly about 
les Strangers. He seized the oars, took the bridge at 
the first attempt, and rowed the three mariners home. 



94 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

Delius, of course, chaffed us unmercifully about it. 

Needless to say, the offending branch remained 
undisturbed. Several weeks later, as I was wheeling 
Delius in his carriage down the garden, we heard a 
crash, followed by much shouting and cursing, and, 
going down to the water's edge, I discovered that the 
branch had fallen, and smashed up a fishing-party 
that had been lazing underneath. As soon as these 
excitable and furious Frenchmen saw Delius from 
out the wreckage of branches, bent and broken rods 
and tangled lines, their fury increased. It was all his 
fault. He must buy them new rods. But Delius 
merely answered in dry, unconcerned tones that it 
served them right. Hadn't they seen the notice on 
the tree, 'Defense de stationner' ? These were his 
private fishing-grounds, and they had better be off 
before he called the garde-champetre. They now 
presented a very sorry sight as they tried in vain to 
extricate themselves and to control the boat, which 
had broken away from its moorings and was drifting, 
wreckage and all, down the river. Then one of them 
missed his straw hat, and was livid with rage when 
another fisherman, in a boat anchored in the reeds at 
the other side of the river, roared with laughter and 
pointed to it as it sailed merrily before the wind about 
two lengths away. -This was too much for him. 
Words jostled in his throat. 

'If only old Lloyd George would look after his 
trees . . . ' 

'What was that ?* questioned Delius, warming up 
to the fray. 'Lloyd George ? Did he call me Lloyd 
George ? f 



AN INTERLUDE 95 

I thought it was now time for me to intervene, so I 
whisked the carriage round and pushed the old man, 
now clutching his breast in his anger, out of sight. 

As was always the case with Balfour Gardiner, he 
had no sooner arrived in Grez than he began to talk* 
about leaving. All too soon Mrs. Delius and I were 
saying au revoir to our friends on the station at 
Nemours, our nearest town. Here we bought a 
nasse, a kind of big wire cage used for catching fish, 
and, slinging it behind the old Ford like some great 
double-bass, we returned home all agog with excite- 
ment, for I was determined to trap all the fish that 
had come up from the flooded river to the pond in the 
garden. But they were too clever for me, and all I 
could catch were water-rats, and, once, two frogs, the 
mother holding the little one on its back above water. 
I took the cage carefully out of the water, opened the 
wire door, and lifted the big frog out on to the ground 
somewhat gingerly with my handkerchief, putting its 
little one beside it. They both allowed me to handle 
them without the slightest sign of fear, and hopped off 
together in the long grass. Delius x when I told him 
of this, shook his head, and said that we should not 
get a wink of sleep that night 'for the "Hallelujah 
Chorus" of the frogs/ 

It had come about that, during the course of 
conversation with Gardiner and Hadley, mention 
had been made of the full score and orchestral parts 
of Delius's early opera, Koanga, which had been 
missing for a great number of years. Nobody, it 
appeared, could trace them, yet Delius felt sure that 
they must be somewhere in London. Terhaps at 



96 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

this moment some grocer is tearing a sheet out of the 
score and wrapping up his butter in it, 5 Delius had 
suggested. However, Hadley had said that he would 
see what he could do. Perhaps they were lying in 
some publisher's warehouse, where they had been 
dumped by mistake. A few days later Hadley was 
back in Grez with the orchestral parts ! He had been 
right. Still, there was no trace whatever of the full 
score ; they had searched everywhere. There was only 
one thing to be done, and that was to reconstruct the 
score from the material, for Sir Thomas Beecham had 
announced that he wished to play an excerpt from the 
opera. Having planted the orchestral parts all round 
the music-room, and threatened the servants with fire 
and brimstone if they did anything other than dust 
round them, I set about the colossal task myself. At 
first I found it a fascinating job always speculating as 
to what the next bar was going to be, but, after working 
the clock round for several days, the brain became 
dull, and one addressed oneself to this work for what 
it really was -nothing but mere hack work. For- 
tunately, there was no need for me to continue in this 
arduous way for more than a fortnight, for Hadley 
now informed us that, by a stroke of luck, he had 
unearthed the score. A new score had to be made, so 
I completed my copy from the original MS. 

Easter brought May Harrison, and now we were 
able to hear the new Sonata. Delius was obviously 
very pleased with his achievement, and so delighted 
was he with May Harrison's musicianly interpretation 
that he dedicated the work to her. *It seems a 
younger, fresher work than either of the other two 



AN INTERLUDE 97 

sonatas/ said he, 'and in some respects I like it 
better.' 

That May the garden, which had looked like a tiny 
corner of England with its well-trimmed flower-beds, 
pansies, forget-me-nots, wallflowers, its like and 
apple-blossom, and the soft mellow green of its trees, 
was suddenly white with snow. A blizzard swept the 
country, and the peasants said that the whole wine- 
crop of France would be ruined. 

In early June there came a somewhat unusual 
visitor, a Scotsman from London named Erskine, who 
had been sent out to Grez by a friend of Delius, in 
the hope that he might be able to restore the com- 
poser^ sight by the healing power of hypnotism. At 
first Delius would not hear of the suggestion, but he 
was eventually persuaded to try it. Erskine stayed a 
fortnight in Grez, and, though he did not succeed in 
his purpose, the results whilst they lasted were truly 
marvellous. Each morning he visited Delius and 
remained with him alone for over an hour. What the 
treatment was I do not know, but what I do know is 
that on the second day, when Delius took his walking 
exercise, with his wife supporting him on one side 
and his male nurse on the other, I saw him walk three 
times his usual distance without fatigue, and on the 
following day, instead of being carried from his 
carriage in the porch to his chair in the living-room, 
as was the custom, I saw him walk in like manner into 
the house, and not only walk with little aid, but go up 
the two steps into the living-room ! Towards the 
end of the first week he could wipe his brow with his 
handkerchief, control his fingers sufficiently to take 



98 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

his handkerchief from his breast-pocket and wipe his 
nose, and touch his face with his forefinger, with 
unerring accuracy, at whatever point Erskine in- 
dicated. The amazing thing was that he continued to 
do most of these things whether Erskine was present 
or not. On our evening walks I observed that he 
adjusted his hat himself, and, whenever a mosquito 
settled on his face, he flicked it off with his forefinger, 
when hitherto it would have had to have been done 
for him. Yet, astonishing as all these things were - 
for very few can realise how completely helpless he 
was - there was still no mention of his seeing again. 

Erskine was very friendly* He had not expected 
to find 'an extraordinary man like Delius living in 
such a god-forsaken hole as Grez.' He had imagined 
Grez to be a fashionable little spa ! 

Delius, he confided, was the most difficult case he 
had ever had. On the first day it had been no easy 
matter to hypnotise him. 

*I shall make him see before I go, but it will not be 
for more than a few minutes at a time, if that. Perhaps 
if he were to take a six months' course of treatment I 
could make him see again permanently/ said he. 

Erskine was very interested in music, and ques- 
tioned me a great deal as to how Delius was able to 
work with me. It seemed to him that there was 
probably as much telepathy as intuition in it, if not 
more, and, technical considerations apart, he certainly 
did not think that I could have worked with such 
understanding as Delius had credited me with had I 
not lived with the composer so intimately for months 
without a break. I, too, had often noticed during 



AN INTERLUDE 99 

working hours that a phrase that Delius was about to 
dictate had already occurred to me before he could 
name it. At some time or another of our lives we 
have all of us listened to a piece of music that we have 
not heard before, and been able to guess pretty well 
what the composer was going to do next, but that is 
not precisely the same thing. There, suggestion 
plays too great a part, and the brain, whether we are 
conscious of its functioning or not, is alert, and con- 
centrated on the possible turns this new music might 
take; whereas at moments such as those to which I 
refer I was often writing out some passage as fast as I 
could, when like a flash some phrase would come to 
mind, and I would be amazed to hear Delius begin 
to dictate it. 

It is true that during the course of work on a new 
composition I thought myself into it almost as much 
as did Delius himself. *My dear boy, you finish my 
sentences for me/ he used to say. It was no use 
remaining passive and merely taking down the notes 
(even if one could have done at the speed at which he 
dictated), particularly with a man like Delius, who 
never repeated himself unless he could help it. 

It will be remembered that earlier in the previous 
year Delius had had momentary glimpses of his hands, 
at varying intervals over a period of several months, 
but to my knowledge these occurrences had ceased 
before he went to England for the festival, and there 
had been no mention of them ever since. Bearing in 
mind what Erskine had achieved in those few days, 
I was not surprised when, towards the end of the first 
week, they told me that Delius had seen his haodfe 



100 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

once more, but, as on those other occasions, only for 
an instant on awakening from his afternoon nap. 
Each day he saw for just such a little time, but no 
more, and by the middle of the second week Erskine 
as much as said to me privately that it was hopeless. 

At the end of that week he came up to the music- 
rooin and said that he was going to bring Delius up. 

'Don't go/ said he. C I want you to remain.' 

He then explained that he would like Delius to sit 
once more at a keyboard and finger the keys. Perhaps 
. . . but we would see. I hinted that Delius had not 
been able to play the piano for years, but he said that 
did not matter. What he was driving at I could not 
imagine. It seemed absurd, and I thought it a great 
mistake, but it was not for me to say so. I was pre- 
paring to put an armchair when Erskine stopped me. 

* We'll use one of these instead/ said he, selecting a 
chair without arms. 'He'll sit on it all right !' 

They carried Delius upstairs and set him down on 
the chair, but he could not sit on it unsupported, and 
I was sure that he would fall off. Erskine, however, 
went to him and steadied him, holding him gently by 
the shoulders. 

c By the time I count five/ said he quietly, 'you will 
be able to sit on this chair without my help, but when 
I take my arms away you will not be able to move 
forward or say your name ! One, two, three, four, 
five . . . * And with this he passed the tips of his 
fingers slowly down from Delius's head to his 
shoulders, and stood back. The old man could 
neither speak nor move, but exerted himself to his 
utmost to do so. 



AN INTERLUDE IOI 

'Now say your name,' commanded Erskine after 
about half a minute of such struggling, and the old 
man repeated his name several times, and moved 
backwards and forwards in his chair as he was 
bidden. 

'Now play V ordered Erskine, and Delius lifted his 
hands unaided on to the keys, and there began a 
medley of meaningless sounds. Even in this terrible 
ordeal his sense of. humour did not desert him, for he 
turned his head to me and said, 'Eric, the New 
Music F 

At this, I went over to Erskine and whispered that 
I had had enough of it, and left the room. 

What is this awful power that some possess and 
others not, and what is this state called hypnotic 
sleep when a man is asleep yet awake ? 

Whatever it is, and whether it comes from heaven 
or hell, let it be recorded that the great improvement 
which I have mentioned in Delius's general condition 
was maintained throughout that summer. That he 
was much less nervous and irritable was evident to 
everyone. I, for one, shall always be grateful to 
Erskine, in that Delius was now able to work day after 
day without interruption on his last choral work, which 
was to be called Songs of Farewell* Continuous work 
such as this was unheard of during those latter years. 

Songs of Farewell, apart from its intrinsic musical 
merit, is a monument of what can be done when, the 
body broken, there still remains in a man the will to 
create. It should be an inspiration to every young 
composer who finds the spirit willing but the flesh 
weak. 



102 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

It is a setting for double chorus and orchestra of 
words chosen by the composer's wife from Walt 
Whitman's Leaves of Grass. Here, in the first three 
movements, the composer gives voice to the 'silent 
backward tracings/ the 'meditations of old times 
resumed - their loves, joys, persons, voyages/ that 
delight the heart of man in the twilight of his days. 
The great forces of Nature are saluted in turn, and 
in the fourth and fifth movements, with a joyous 
leave-taking, the old sailor, bidding farewell to *land 
and life/ speeds from the shore upon the endless 
chartless voyage of Death to the sound of the hushed 
voices of his friends in the final pianissimo chord, 
'Depart P A' more cheerful note is struck at the 
thought of Death in this work than in the Requiem, 
the most depressing choral work I know. 

So the months passed by uneventfully, except for 
a short visit from Beatrice Harrison and her mother 
which resulted in two pieces being specially written 
for her earning American tour -the Caprice and 
Elegy for 'cello solo and chamber orchestra. 

That summer, Delius was particularly interested 
in the cricket test matches between England and 
Australia. Every morning, when I came down to 
lunch, I read to him the scores and the full account of 
each day's play. The progress of each match was 
watched with as much keenness as that of two specta- 
tors on the ground, and Mrs. Delius used to say that 
she had never heard so much talk about cricket as 
when her 'two Yorkshire lads' got together. And the 
old 'un used to brag how, in his prime, he had nsver 
let a loose ball goby without punishing it unmercifully, 



AN INTERLUDE 103 

and never dropped a catch in the slips, and the young 
y un used to believe him and tell how he had once 
skittled a team of yokels with his googlies for seven 
runs. 

When, at last, the choral work was finished and all 
the slaving done, Delius quickly relapsed into his 
former state of titter -helplessness and nervous 
irritability. Nothing we did was right, and I mar- 
velled at the way his wife went on from day to day 
with such a happy heart in face of such difficulties. 
Every little change of weather affected him deeply, 
and once, when there had been a violent thunderstorm 
and one of the great trees in the garden had been left 
with a horrid scar from the lightning, tKere were days 
and nights of ceaseless pain for him and depression 
for us* 

How Delius and his wife managed to keep their hold 
on life during such frightful times as these will always 
be a mystery to me. What he suffered and what she 
endured no one will ever know ! 

There must be something that comes with age to 
enable a man and a woman to bear the mental and 
physical strain of prolonged suffering and misfortune, 
for sensitive youth cannot stand up against it for long. 
I remember how, after days like these, I have walked 
about in the night and fought with myself to keep my 
sense of balance^ Alone upon that great high road 
that for centuries has been a main artery connecting 
Paris with the south, I have peopled it in my imagin- 
ation with the untold legions of the past : Charlemagne 
and his armies marching north; the merchants of 
medieval days coming up and down with all the 



104 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

outward splendour of their merchandise ; the countless 
hosts of hooded friars with their staffs; Napoleon 
hurrying to Fontainebleau; and Balzac . . . had 
Balzac ever walked along by that lane through Hulay, 1 
over the hill to Grez, when he was staying at the 
chateau lower down the road towards Nemours ? I 
wondered. To give full rein to the imagination in the 
quiet and cool of the night braces the jagged nerves 
like the healthy flush of the cleaner instincts that tone 
the body up when a man is astride a horse. These 
reflections brought forgetfulness, and I would return 
home ready for what the next day might bring. But 
this could not go on for long. When in the late 
autumn I had said good-bye to them, and was sitting 
in the taxi whilst my bags were strapped behind, I 
took one more glance through the door, into the 
Delius world beyond, and saw the last rays of the sun 
playing on the deep russet gold of the beech-trees in 
the garden (as in the love-scene of Fennimore and 
Gerda), and I sank back and felt like a worn-out old 
man. 

1 Hulay, a tiny hamlet near Grez. 



II 



DELIUS was very anxious to haye Sir Thomas 
Beecham's opinion of the new choral work, so 
it was arranged that I should take the manu- 
script full score and play it over to him. 

Sir Thomas was charming. 

'Beautiful P was his comment when I had finished 
playing the first number, and after the second he 
smiled and said 'Lovely P When we had come to the 
last few bars of the work, he got up excitedly from his 
chair beside me and said, 'Ah, my dear fellow, this is 
lovely music ; simple and direct and very much in the 
style of A Late Lark, isn't it ? But how the devil did 
you manage to get it down on paper ?' 

'Extracting music from the brain of a Delius is not 
one of the easiest jobs/ I replied. 

'No, I should think not/ said he, fingering his 
beard. *I think you ought to be a Cabinet Minister P 

That was the Beecham touch, so I left it at that. 

Christmas was clouded, for all of us who loved and 
admired him, by the tragic death of Philip Heseltine. 
Delius was greatly shocked and profoundly moved by 
the sad circumstances attending it. 

'. . . the terrible tragedy of poor Phil has really 
quite unstrung me, and Jelka as well. We can think 
of nothing else/ he wrote. 

He who has heard the cry of the curlew on a lone 

H 105 



106 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

and desolate moor has heard the music of this richly 
gifted personality. * It is the saddest music I know. 

For some months I was now busy in London, 
correcting proofs and orchestral parts, and inter- 
viewing publishers respecting all the new scores, but 
we kept up a constant exchange of letters, and I was 
constantly worried and alarmed by the unsatisfactory 
reports of the behaviour of Delius's male nurses. 

The existence of such people was almost unheard-of 
in France, even in Paris, and, unless they had been 
able to read German fluently, Frenchmen would have 
been of little use, for not the least important part of 
their duties was the reading aloud, and Delias hated 
French. English male nurses were out of the question 
it seemed; all that remained were German. When, 
after endless searchings and unimaginable difficulties 
with the passport authorities, a new man was found, 
it invariably turned out that Providence had sent us 
a clown of the highest order. There were a few 
exceptions, but very few. 

I had had a good deal of experience of these fellows, 
who were always threatening to leave at a moment's 
notice, and had often been truly thankful that poor 
Delius, the most fastidious of men, could not see them. 

There was one in particular, who used to do the 
goose-step four or five times round the kitchen to get 
the right atmosphere before he entered the room. 
There was another who used to put dramas on our 
pillows at night, so that we might give him our 
considered opinion of his efforts by morning; and 
there was another who fell and crashed about like a 
comedian in pantomime. 



AN INTERLUDE 107 

One night, when this worthy had come to carry 
Delius up to bed, the old man said jokingly, 'Eric, just 
go upstairs and see if my bedroom door is open. You 
see, last night he carried me upstairs feet in the air 
and head on the ground. Then he swung me round 
at the top of the stairs like a battering-ram and pushed 
the door open with my head I* 

I was not astonished, therefore, to receive the 
following letter: 

'Grez-sur-Loing, 
'11.5.31- 



DEAR ERIC, -As I am never sure to have a 
moment in the daytime, I will write to you now, as I 
cannot sleep. We have had the most troubled times 
with the new man all along. He was so extraordinarily 
unbalanced and unaccountable in his behaviour* 
Still we thought we must try to get along with him, 
after all the delay and difficulty of getting him into 
France. 

'And do you know what happened ? On Friday 
afternoon after lunch he disappeared, and we have 
not seen him again. He ate a good lunch in his room, 
and brought down his tray, and that is the last that 
was seen ! In his room he left everything about, 
letters, clothes, his unmade bed, and an indescribable 
disorder. It was a rainy day, too, and I had had an 
awful time at Fontainebleau. He disliked poor Fred, 
and on Fridays there was generally some unpleasant- 
ness, but this time nothing special, and I had not 
spoken to him at all. We searched everywhere, and 



108 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

M. Grespier went to the Gendarmerie at Nemours. 
No one saw him leave the house. At the stations of 
Nemours, Bourron, and Fontainebleau he was not 
seen. We could not help thinking of the river, as he 
was so moody at times - boisterous at others - but he 
had taken his money and passports, changed his 
blouse and put on an overcoat. 

'Well, there we were with poor Fred and nobody 
to help us. The maids were very nice and carried 
him upstairs on a wicker chair, and I managed to 
do the rest somehow and get him undressed and fed 
him. 

'Luckily I had felt that a catastrophe was brooding 
over us, and had got Mrs. Brooks to look out for a 
possible remplaganty and I had also written to another 
of the former applicants who seemed so good. 
Through the American Hospital in Paris I got the 
address of a Canadian. I wired him to come, and he 
came yesterday afternoon to help us for a few days, 
and I am trying to get the other German to come as 
soon as possible as tourist. Then I will try to get him 
in d'urgence. 

'I know you will understand what dreadful heart- 
ache and difficulty all this means to me, and the future 
so entirely uncertain. Also Fred got such a shock over 
his departure that he was not at all well. The weather 
was atrocious until yesterday, when it turned heavenly, 
and the Canadian helped to get Fred into the garden, 
where we had tea. 

*The room of the man is all stacked with pamphlets, 
books on thought-reading, palmistry, Indian Yogi-ism, 
medicines, and treatises to fortify brain-power and 



AN INTERLUDE IOQ 

give one great influence and power over people. That 
is probably what he tried to exercise over Fred in 
vain. 

'The poor man had hardly any intellect at all, and all 
these silly theories nearly turned his brain. And 
where can he be ? I also wrote and enquired at the 
German Embassy in Paris. 

'I always think of you, and especially when I go to 
look at the little chestnut, quite a tree now. Please 
write and tell us about everything. 

'With both our affectionate love, 

'JELKA DELIUS.' 

I was very uneasy, and contemplated leaving my 
work and taking the next train to Paris. I wired, but 
there came no reply. However, I decided to wait, and 
news came eventually by letter. It read: 

'Grez-sur-Loing, 

'iS-5-31- 
'MY DEAR GOOD EMC, - It was so dear of you to 

wire and offer to come and help me, and I thank you 
with all my heart. But I have help now. All hap- 
pened most dramatically the day after I wrote to you. 

'On Wednesday, a young German student of 
medicine wrote to me, recommended by the German 
Embassy. This man said that he would like to come 
and do the work, so I phoned at once and he was to 
arrive on Wednesday evening. 

'Meanwhile at about 4 pjn. our lost man arrived, 
looking in a fearful state, and he had got the school- 
master to accompany him here. He himg his head 



110 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

very much, and said an inner voice had called him 
into the wilderness, so that like Buddha he could pass 
through terrible times so as to purify his soul. He 
rambled on like this and everybody was afraid he 
would attack them. (The schoolmaster was very 
nervous and had a revolver in his pocket.) But I saw 
it was all gas and I took him to his room, where he 
said, "Sleep, ah, sleep 1" and sank on his bed and 
was fast asleep at once. As he seemed perfectly mad, 
I fetched Andre to put a bolt on our bedroom door, 
and then, after a little while, he had washed himself, 
and dressed like a tennis dandy in white flannels and 
came downstairs to have a big meal. In the middle of 
that, the new man arrived, a delicate little chap, and 
very pale-looking. 

*I had to rush out again and try and find someone to 
escort the other man safely to the German Embassy in 

Paris, and at last I got hold of C , the? brigand, 1 

who agreed enthusiastically to do the job. Now we 
had to get the man to consent to leave and pack, and 
we had another fright last night, as he had gone for a 
walk and did not return. When at last he returned for 
supper I quickly locked him in his part of the house. 

Finally, this morning, he went off with R and the 

brigand. We really cannot say if he is mad or simu- 
lating. However, we are tremendously relieved to be 
rid of him, and to have peace and harmony descend 
upon the house once more. The new man has 
already been assistant in a hospital; he understands 
everything and learns very quickly. It was a wonderful 

1 This fellow, whom we nicknamed 'the brigand' on account of his red 
face and flowing moustache, was a great local celebrity, and stalked about 
the village like a Spanish desperado. 



AN INTERLUDE III 



coincidence that he landed at the German Embassy 
just at the moment of our desperate need. 

'With much love from us both, dear good friend, 
'Yours affectionately, 

*JELKA DELIUS.* 

Thus we were all able to breathe freely again - until 
the next upheaval came along. 

On September iTth of that year, Sir Henry Wood 
gave the first performance of A Song of Summer at the 
B.B.C. season of Promenade Concerts. Delius had 
written to Sir Henry saying that he would like me to 
play over the new work to him, and, when I had gone, 
and found him in his little room at Queen's Hall, 
bestrewn with orchestral parts and working in his 
shirt-sleeves at one of those menial jobs that most 
conductors leave to some wretched underling, I 
realised something of what I had heard of his pro- 
verbial thoroughness and untiring energy. The fol- 
lowing morning at rehearsal I felt very nervous as I 
listened to the work for the first time, for it must be 
remembered that Delius had never seen the score 
Happily I was able to wire to him that it sounded very 
well. A Song of Simmer was given a good perfor- 
mance under Sir Henry, who delighted me by saying 
that he thought it a beautiful little work. He liked it 
so much that he had just made arrangements to 
include it in a programme he was to conduct in 
Belfast at the end of that season. 

Immediately after this performance I returned to 
Grez. There I found the composer little changed in 
health, his wife looking worn and tired. He told 



112 DELITJS AS I KNEW HIM 

me that he had 'listened in' to the new work with 
pleasure. 

*It*s a good piece, lad/ said he. *I would have much 
rather heard it over again than my old Piano Concerto. 
I am so tired of it, and, as you know, I don't think 
much of it.* 

It was during this visit that the score of the Fantastic 
Dance was completed by dictation, and this the 
composer dedicated to me. Another charming little 
piece written about this time was a prelude, Irmelin. 
This enchanting lyric for small orchestra arose out of 
a few musical ideas that particularly appealed to the 
composer in his very early unpublished and unper- 
formed opera, IrmeUn, and, slight though it is, I shall 
ever be sorry that Delius did not live to hear the lovely 
sound of it on the orchestra. It was one of the two 
pieces that Sir Thomas Beecham found it necessary 
to interpolate during a change of the scenery at the 
recent revival of Delius's third opera, Koanga, at 
Covent Garden. It is always fascinating to watch the 
reaction of the men in the orchestra during their 
playing of a new work for the first time. Usually the 
impression received by the onlooker as he scans the 
rows of faces is one of utter boredom and indifference. 
I shall not forget the smiles of approval and the 
delightful comments that accompanied its Lydian 
measures when Sir Thomas first rehearsed it at Covent 
Garden. 

On my way home to spend Christmas with my 
parents, I had the good fortune to meet Elgar in Lon- 
don at the Langham Hotel. Sir Edward questioned 
me very searchingly about Delius, and the life he led 



AN INTERLUDE 113 

at Grez, and deplored the death of Philip Hesdtine* 
C I can assure you, I felt it just as much as Defius,' 
said he. 

I noticed that during the course of conversation 
Elgar persistently eyed my pocket, from which pro- 
truded the miniature score of his Ab Symphony. 
Eventually I pulled it out and said, *Oh, yes, I have 
just been listening to Beecham rehearsing this/ 

'But I thought you young men didn't like that sort 
of thing/ he grumbled in rather suspicious tones, not 
taking his eyes from mine; it all ended in his auto- 
graphing the last page of the slow movement for 
me. 

'Do you know my Falstaffy he enquired with 
considerable warmth. I replied that I did, and that, 
if he would allow me to say so, I considered it to be 
the finest piece of programme music ever written. 
He paid no heed to my remark, and went on proudly, 
'I think it is my best work. Wait until you hear the 
gramophone records of it that I've just made* They're 
splendid !' When I left him he said, 'Come and see 
me whenever you like,' and then he added with a 
chuckle, 'And tell Delius that I grow more like 
Falstaff every day 1* 

That evening Beecham gave an exquisite perform- 
ance of In a Summer Garden. The opening bars were 
poised to a nicety, and the timing of the oboe counter- 
point, at the bar after the entrance of the strings, 
perfect. Usually the semiquaver notes of this fussy 
oboe figure are hurried in performance, so that at the 
very outset the spefl is broken, and often the whole 
delicate machinery of the work thrown out of gear. 



114 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

When we came to the Elgar Symphony I was un- 
moved. The third movement, that had once seemed 
the greatest slow movement in the whole range of 
symphonic literature, and which I had never tired of 
hearing, now seemed dull and uninspired, and its 
emotional appeal sickened me* It seemed hypocritical 
to have said what I had done to Elgar that afternoon 
and to feel like this, but such was the state of my 
nerves that, outside the world of Delius's music, I now 
felt strangely uneasy and unsafe. No young man 
could have lived for long periods with a man like 
Delius, as I had done, without having his sense of 
musical values constantly disturbed. Sometimes one 
felt that the only music that mattered was the music 
of Delius, and at other times one felt that one never 
wanted to hear a note of it again. Little did I realise 
how ill I was, and how soon I was to be prostrated 
with a nervous breakdown. 

When word of this reached Delius, his wife wrote, 
4 Dear Fred had his eyes swimming in tears when I 
read him about your illness ; he loves you dearly.' 

By the following spring I was well enough to 
attend the final rehearsals for the first performance of 
Songs of Farewell at the Courtauld-Sargent Concert 
at Queen's Hall on March 22nd (1932). Delius had 
set his heart on a premUre under Beecham, but it 
was not possible to arrange this, and when Mrs. 
Courtauld went to Grez, and pressed the com- 
poser for its inclusion in the programmes that she 
was then drawing up for the coming season's 
series of concerts, Delius submitted, somewhat un- 
willingly, to her request. It was a very anxious young 



AN INTERLUDE 115 

man who accompanied Dr. Sargent to the Royal 
College of Music, where the first full rehearsal was to 
be held. When I heard the sound of the tuning, and 
saw the Philharmonic Choir massed up behind the 
London Symphony Orchestra, and the audience of 
students, every one of whom had a score, I felt just 
as I had done at that first rehearsal of A Song of 
Summer, but, as on that occasion, I was afterwards 
able to wire to Delius that the new work had turned 
out well. 

There was, however, this that worried me -the 
high soprano C at the climax 'Away, O soul, hoist 
instantly the anchor !' This was not the instance of a 
very high note coming in the stride of a work which 
otherwise kept for its intimacies within the middle 
compass of the voices, but a work in which even the 
quieter and more contemplative numbers were equally 
highly pitched. I do not think that it ever occurred 
to Delius that in these long rhapsodic passages the 
singers might need fo take breath from time to time, 
any more than in a similar passage marked fortissimo, 
in a work like A Song of the High Hills, the trombone 
players might be given but one beat's rest in which to 
get their wind. Delius's entire output abounds in 
examples of this careless disregard for the limits of 
the human agency in performance. Again and again 
I had noticed, when working with him, that there was 
always a tendency in him to force up the pitch, 
particularly whenever the music became more ani- 
mated. Sometimes he would even o'erleap his 
climax before reaching it ! I have often wondered 
whether to attribute this failing to the deafness in one 



Il6 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

ear which embarrassed his latter years, or to his lack 
of the sense of perfect pitch. 

With Malcolm Sargent at the helm, Songs of Fare- 
well began its adventure o'er the seas, and soon the 
old sailor was to depart upon his 'endless cruise/ His 
work was not yet quite finished. 



12 



EACH 'home-coming/ as Delius used to call my 
return to Grez, was an occasion of great excite- 
ment in the household and frequent anxiety 
for me, for it always happened that, shortly before my 
departure, there would come a letter with a list of 
eatables that I was to take. I have crossed the Channel 
with muffins and pikelets, cheeses, Yorkshire ham 
and bacon, sausages, jam, caraway-seeds, select blends 
of tea, not to mention the night when, during a rough 
crossing between Newhaven and Dieppe, the boat 
reeking with the smell of new paint, I had oysters to 
feed on the way ! 

This time, on arriving in Grez, in August (1932), I 
found that delightful fellow James Gunn installed in 
the studio above the music-room, and working on his 
portrait of the composer which was to occupy so prom- 
inent a position in the following year's Academy. He 
had come at the suggestion of Norman O'Neill, who 
had persuaded Delius to allow his friend to paint him. 
Gunn was working under great difficulties, for Delius 
would only sit for short periods, and, even so, was 
never still. Sometimes Gunn had no sooner fixed his 
easel, and struggled down three flights of stairs with 
his large canvas, when Delius would ask to be carried 
away ! Then there was the problem of the light, 
which could not be regulated; artist and sitter were 
almost on top of each other. Delius would in no way 



Ii8 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

allow the sittings to interfere with the normal routine 
of his day, so that for the most part the artist had to 
struggle on as best he could. I felt sorry for Gunn, 
who was depressed by the atmosphere of nervous 
tension about the place, and I did my best to help 
him by deputising for the composer in a white shirt, 
open at the neck, and a white shoe which had to 
protrude a little from beneath the checked rug which 
Delius usually wore loosely over his knees. 

The new male nurse had not turned out to be such 
a paragon after all, and was already about to leave. 
His temporary templagant, a meagre-looking Pole 
from Paris, was very nervous about carrying Delius, 
aid Delius was still more nervous about being carried, 
so the poor fellow asked if he might practise on me 
before venturing on Delius. What with being carried 
up and down the precipitous spiral staircase by the 
little Pole, panting for breath, and posing for hours 
until the folds of the shirt and the innumerable checks 
of that confounded rug were completed, I could have 
out-Deliused Delius in irascibility by the time it was 
all finished. 

Now that his unfinished manuscripts were com- 
pleted, Delius said there was one more thing that he 
would like to do. Would I play him the score of his 
unpublished one-act opera, Margot-la-Rouge ? Per- 
haps something might yet be made of it. He had been 
badly in need of money, and had written this work in 
1902 for a competition (the Sonzogno prize), one of 
the principal conditions of which was that the libretto 
must be of the French or Italian dramatic type, which 
he loathed. There had been very little time, and a 



AN INTERLUDE 

French authoress had offered him a libretto which, 
faute de mieux, he had accepted. When one remem- 
bers that Margot-la-Rouge is a product of those six 
magnificent years of passionate and vigorous creative 
activity when the composer was at the very height of 
his powers - 1900-1, A Village Romeo and JuKet\ 
1902, Appalachian 1903, Sea-drift; 1904-5, A Mass 
of Life - it is not to be wondered at that now, those 
creative powers spent, he should turn back rather 
wistfully to this unfortunate work. His first intention, 
on hearing the music again, was to discard the original 
story - a sordid affair about a young French soldier's 
terrible vengeance when he finds his boyhood sweet- 
heart, Margot, flaunting herself as zfille dejoie in an 
infamous Paris caf-and to ask his young friend 
Robert Nichols to write a new story so that he might 
drastically revise the score. Later, however, he 
decided to retain only such sections of the work as 
particularly appealed to him, and to adapt them to a 
selection of words from Walt Whitman that Nichols 
had compiled for him. The prelude to Margot-la- 
Rouge, evoking, as it does, the presence of a distant 
metropolis, suggested the retrospective line, 'Once I 
passed through a populous city/ and the work 
gradually assumed its present form, an Idyll for 
soprano, baritone, and orchestra. A short orchestral 
introduction, the original prelude to the opera, leads 
to the baritone entry: 

'Once I passed through a populous city, 
Imprinting my brain with all its shows. 
Of that city I remember only a woman, 
A woman I casually met, 
Who detained me for love of me. 



120 DELITJS AS I KNEW HIM 

Day by day and night by night we were together - 

all else has been forgotten by me. 
Again we wander, we love, we separate, 
Again she holds me by the hand, I must not go. 
Day by day and night by night together P 

Then, in his musing, he hears the voice of the 
woman: 

*Day by day, night by night we were together/ 

he crying: 

*I hear her whisper,* 

and she, singing again: 

*I love you, before long I die. 
I have waited long merely to look on you, 
For I could not die till I had once looked on you.' 

They extol the contentedness and solemnity of their 
ascent to the 'sphere of lovers/ and the music becomes 
more and more impassioned: 

*O to speed where there is space enough and 

air enough at last ! 

We are two hawks, we soar above and look down. 
What is all else to us, who have voided all but 

freedom and all but our own joy ?' 

But, as in Songs of Sunset: 
*They are not long, the days of wine and roses/ 

the dread of separation darkens as a cloud : 

Tace so pale with wondrous eyes, gather closer yet, 

closer yet. 

Perfume therefore my chant, O love, immortal love. 
Make me a fountain 
That I exhale love wherever I go/ 



AN INTERLUDE 121 

The work ends with a beautiful yet poignant 
passage : 

Man: 'Sweet are the blooming cheeks of the living. 

Sweet are the musical voices sounding, 

But sweet, ah, sweet are the dead 

With their silent eyes.* 

Woman: 'I ascend, I float to the regions of your love, Oman/ 
Both: 'All is over and long gone, but 

Love is not over.' 

When Delias dictated the last line of the baritone 
part, I smiled but made no comment. Several months 
later, when the score had been published, apropos of 
a remark he made I pointed out tactfully that that 
phrase might have dropped out of Songs of Sunset. 
Greatly taken aback, he had not noticed it until then. 



Thus does a composer repeat himself unconsciously 
under stress of similar emotions. 

The Idyll was first performed at the Promenade 
Concerts on October 3rd, 1933, under Sir Henry 
Wood, Dora Labette and Roy Henderson being the 
soloists. 

The dreary monotony of that winter 2 was broken at 
intervals - all too few for me -by visits from Cecil 
Gray, Arnold Bax (both rather silent and shy, but 
always stimulating when they did talk), Kenneth 
Spence, with whom Delius loved to recall his wander- 
ings in Norway, and Professor Dent, whose book on 
Busoni was now in print, and which we had just read 

{ i See p. 69. 2 1932-3. 



122 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

aloud to Delius with the greatest interest. Gray in 
particular was almost as astonished by the extra- 
ordinary liveliness of Delius's mind as was Spence by 
the amazing accuracy of his memory, but the professor 
remarked that he could not forget how greatly Delius 
had aged since his last visit two years before. 

The other visitor was Lionel Tertis, who came to 
play his viola arrangement of the Third Sonata for 
violin and piano to the composer. Tertis, like most 
people, had imagined Grez to be but a very short 
distance from Paris, whereas it lies about six miles 
beyond Fontainebleau, which town is already about 
thirty-eight miles from Paris by road. The taxi- 
driver - the rogue ! - was apparently also under the 
same impression. Village after village they passed, 
battling their way through a blinding snowstorm, poor 
Tertis shivering and anxious on the edge of his seat, 
clattering at the window to urge the scoundrel on. 
After two hours of such agony they at last pulled up 
outside Delius's house, and Tertis, clutching his viola, 
entered, a picture of desolation. He had no feeling 
in his hands; how could he possibly play, he said; 
besides, that fellow had swindled him abominably. 
After a while, however, we managed to thaw him, and 
he went up to the music-room and played as only a 
great artist can play. Rarely had I seen Delius so 
happy. One of my most treasured possessions is the 
beautiful letter which Tertis wrote after his visit, 
complimenting me on my playing with him without a 
rehearsal. 

It was during a short and unavoidable absence from 
Grez, attending to matters respecting the publication 



AN INTERLUDE 123 

and first performance of the Idyll, that Elgar paid 
the composer a visit. It had interested me to hear 
from Sir Edward, whilst I was yet in England, that 
he was 'happy at finding Delius so bright/ 

Delius described their meeting to me as follows: 
'Elgar came. It was really delightful. He stayed 
from tea-time until nearly seven o'clock. He was very 
genial and natural and altogether quite unlike what I 
had expected him to be. I never knew him well. 
I had seen him for a moment now and then in London 
and once at the Birmingham Festival in 1912 when he 
conducted a new thing of his - The Music-Makers > I 
believe. Anyhow I didn't care for it -it was too 
rowdy and commonplace. That was the time they 
did Sea-drift and Sibelius came over to conduct anew 
work of his, the Fourth Symphony - fine music with 
a genuine feeling for Nature. I like Sibelius, he's a 
splendid fellow. I had often met him at Busoni's 
house. Elgar brought me an album of his records 
the Fifth Symphony, Tapiola, and Pohjola's Daughter 
- very good in their way, but he always uses the same 
procedure to get the music going and that irritates me. 
A lot of his work is too complicated and thought out. 
Fve got no use for that sort of writing. I've written 
pages of it myself - paper-music - but I had the sense 
to burn them. If you knew the amount of music I Ve 
written and burned you would be amazed. It is 
against my nature to write music like that. The 
English like that sort of thing just as they like vogues 
for this and that. Now it's Sibelius, and when they're 
tired of hint theyll boost up Mahler and Bruckner. 
There's an album of Wolf songs that Elgar also 



124 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

brought. I Ve played one or two on the gramophone, 
but I never liked Wolf. Herbert Janssen sings them 
beautifully with the deepest feeling, every syllable 
declaimed perfectly, with just that graveness of voice 
that gets to the very heart of the words, but what a sad 
and morbid fellow poor Wolf must have been ! Fve 
never been able to understand why people like Ernest 
Newman rave so much about his music ! 

*We talked about music. I told Elgar that I had 
just finished the Idyll with your help, and he was very 
interested in -the way we managed to work and asked 
a great deal about you. He said he was sorry that he'd 
missed you. He then went on to say that he was busy 
working on his Third Symphony. 

* "But then," he added, "my music will not interest 
you, Delius ; you are too much of a poet for a workman 
like me !" 

*I replied that I thought there was some fine stuff 
in his Introduction and Allegro for strings, and that I 
admired his Faktaff, but I thought it was a great pity 
that he had wasted so much time and energy in writing 
those long-winded oratorios. 

* "That," said Elgar, "is the penalty of my English 
environment." 

' "Well, ajiyhow, Elgar, you're not as bad as Parry ," 
I replied. "He would have set the whole Bible to 
music had he lived long enough !" 

' We talked about books (and I could see that he was 
very well read), about people we'd known, about what 
would grow in my garden and what would not grow 
in his in England. He was as excited as a schoolboy 
about his first trip from Croydon to Paris by air and 



AN INTERLUDE 125 

insisted that, should I go to England again, I must 
travel by air. He would love to conduct some of my 
music. Would I send him some scores ? I said that I 
would and that it would give me the greatest pleasure. 
We had a bottle of champagne before he left, and I was 
very disappointed that he couldn't stay longer, but he 
had to motor back to Paris to see young Yehudi 
Menuhin that night. 

* "The way that boy plays my concerto is amazing/' 
said Elgar. Obviously I could see that he adored the 
youngster. Most of the time he sat close by me on a 
very modest chair, the one my man generally uses, 
and, as Jelka afterwards told me, he constantly tele- 
graphed signs to her - was he tiring me ? - was he to 
leave ? - but, of course, she negatived them. Yes, I 
liked Elgar very much. . , .' 



I now found myself in a very difficult position at 
Grez, for, although the music was finished and my 
mission ended, Delius insisted on my staying on with 
him- In the house of a healthy man I should have 
been happy to do so, for then I could have worked, 
but it was irksome for a young man to go on regulating 
his life according to the whims of a sick man. Those 
five years had taught me that it is not wholesome and 
good for a youngster to live for long periods in an 
atmosphere of sickness and depression if he would 
keep his spirit, and the doctors had told me that, 
cared for as he was by his wife, there was no reason 
why Delius should not live for yet another ten years. 
With the best intentions, the attitude of both Delius 



126 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

and his wife had become so possessive towards me 
that they strongly resented my friendship with anyone 
outside the household. Accustomed even as I was 
from childhood to solitude, I could no longer bear the 
sad loneliness of Grez devoid of all young society. 
My position was further complicated by Mrs. Delius, 
who was now showing evident signs of fatigue. She 
had not been well for some time, owing to an accident 
in which she was knocked down in the dark by a 
drunken cyclist, and, but for my presence of mind, 
would have been killed by a passing motor-car* How- 
ever, on Delius's saying that he would ask his niece, 
Peggy, to come and stay with them to relieve Mrs. 
Delius with the reading, I decided to leave Grez, but 
on the understanding that they were to send for me 
should anything serious occur. 

It was with the greatest satisfaction that I afterwards 
heard that my parents had received the following 
letter: 

*Grez-sur-Loing. 
'137.1933. 

'DEAR MR. AND MRS. FENBY, - These are only a few 
words to thank you once more for letting us have Eric 
so long ! The work he has /lone for me is absolutely 
unique, and it is almost a miracle that he came at all 
and that he worked so admirably. 

*I want you to know how deeply we feel and 
appreciate what he has done. He has always been so 
steadfast and painstaking, and with his wonderful 
musical gift added to all those good qualities he has 
achieved it. It seems so glorious that all these works 



AN INTERLUDE 127 

that but for him would have remained mere sketches 
are now actually brought to life and in the publishers* 
hands. 

'I hope that now Eric will start his own work and 
achieve great things ! We miss him very much 
indeed. 

'With kind remembrances from my wife to you 
both, 

*I remain, 

*Yours affectionately, 

'FREDERICK DELIUS.' 



PART TWO 
HOW HE WORKED 



r attempting to show how Delius worked by 
dictation, it must not be supposed that I am dis- 
secting the printed scores as I know them to-day. 
The only way in which I can give some idea of the 
method of work is for me to forget the pages of the 
scores which I have chosen for my illustrations, so to 
speak, and put them together again as Delius dictated 
them to me. I must therefore imagine myself to be 
in turns both creator and amanuensis: the creator 
who knows what he wishes to be written down, the 
amanuensis who has little or no idea of what is to 
follow. It is obviously impossible for me to remem- 
ber the exact words that Delius used at each dictation, 
but, as I live it all over again, my memory serves me 
well enough to vouch for the 'accuracy of the order 
and the way in which the detail was assembled at the 
actual time of composition, and the picturesque 
remarks which that detail often brought forth. 

The technique of dictation varied, often consider- 
ably, with each work. Much depended on the extent 
to which Delius had already arranged and sifted in his 
mind the musical matter of what he was going to say 
before calling for me to note it down. Sometimes he 
had no more than the roughest idea of what he wanted 
until that rough idea had been played over to him at 
the piano. The final test was always the sound of his 
musical thought when transferred to the piano. With 
the exception of the solitary occasion which I am about 



132 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

to describe, Delius always worked in the music-room, 
I sitting at the keyboard and playing each dictation for 
his correction or emendation before writing a note of 
it into the score. Again and again the work of several 
days proved to be but a mere stepping-stone to some- 
thing finer. Delius was never able to think, of and 
retain more than a few bars at a time, and the most he 
ever dictated at a stretch was the new opening to the 
orchestral work A Song of Summer. It will be recalled 
that the good material from the rejected MS. A Poem 
of Life and Love was turned to account in A Song of 
Summer; that Delius was still dissatisfied with the 
opening; and how I found him sitting in his carriage 
under the elder-tree waiting for me to take down an 
entirely new opening, which, he said, had come to. him 
in the night. 

It happened like this: 

'Eric, is that you ?' he called, as he heard me coming 
down the garden path. *I want you to write down this 
new opening for the new work. Bring your score- 
paper and sit beside me. . . 

*I want you to imagine that we are sitting on the 
clifis in the heather looking out over the sea. The 
sustained chords in the high strings suggest the clear 
sky, and the stillness and calmness of the scene, 
I in a bar (four and a three); divided strings, chord 
of D major- A, D, F# doubled at the octave, lowest 
note the A string of the violas. Dovetail the violin 
parts (F# and D), (A and F#), and mark the score 
"Lento Molto" and each voice pianissimo. Hold the 
chord for two bars/ 

Example i shows what I wrote down, and each 



HOW HE WORKED 



133 



subsequent example 
gives the progress of 
the score as I con- 
tinued to write from 
bar to bar. 

'You remeihber 
thatfigure that comes 
in the violins when 
the music becomes 
more animated' - 
sings it. Tm intro- 
ducing it here to 
suggest the gentle 




^i. . 




rise and fall of the waves. Now the fifth beat of the 



134 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

first bar 'cellos and basses in octaves in quarter notes' 
-sings and calls out names of notes -*G#, A, D, C 
(hold it - a whole note), then repeat the same.' As I 
was scribbling this down, he went on, 'Slur the 
quarter notes - one bow, and with each rise and fall 
put crescendo and decrescendo marks.' Ex. 2. 

'Now go on with the 'cellos, again in- quarter notes 
- bottom Ff , tar-tar-tar - hold it' - sings - 'last note 
seven beats.' Ex. 3. 




*What have we got in the basses ?' 

T#, B, Cff, FJ, seven beats,' I sing. 

'Good ; where was I with the upper strings ?' 



HOW HE WORKED 



135 



*At the beginning of the third bar/ 

'The same chord again, a new bow, and move down 
to E in the firsts on the last quarter note, then up to 
A (five beats)' - sings - *Tar - tar, tar, tar. Keep the 
F# in the second fiddles running right through.* 
Ex. 4. 



3g 



*Now, on the fifth beat, change the chord. A's to B's 
and D's to fifths (F#, Cj) and come back to the same 
position of the D major chord at the next bar and hold 
it through the bar. Strengthen the viola F# at the 
change of the chord at the octave in the second fiddles. 
Swell out all voices up the bar and soften down the 
next/ Ex. 5. 



136 



DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

fcr *- 




'A whole note chord at the 
new bar; C, A, violas; octave 
F#s, second violins; A, F# 
firsts ; move each voice down 
a tone except the first halves 
of the first fiddles and hold 
for a dotted half note and 
tell me what youVe got/ 

'Bb> G, violas; octave E's, 
seconds; and Gin the second 
halves of the firsts/ 

'Good/ Ex. 6. 

'Now add octave C in the 
first halves ; mark it "DivisL" 
Next chord - violas, Ffc Eb ; 



HOW HE WORKED 137 

seconds, octave C's; Eb, second halves of firsts; and 
move the divisi octave down to Bb- Hold it seven 
beats/ Ex. 7. 




*Now, after that chroinaticpassage in the firsts' -sings 
it-'Tar-tar, tar, tar-I want a semi-quaver run up 
in tones in the solo flute from top D to A, three beats 
on A, and then come down - ti, er - ti, er' - sings the 
phrase - 'hold it for the rest of the bar. The ti, er 
figure is the same value as the one that comes in that 
solo oboe passage later on* (sings it). Ex. 8. 




138 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

Is that ti, er in the flute Glj, Delius ?* 
'Yes.' Ex. 9. 




'That flute figure suggests a seagull gliding by. Now 
put a horn call on the fourth beat of the last bar' - 
sings it -'and the same progression in the strings 
moving from a whole note chord at the beginning of 
the next bar, violas G, E; octave C#s in the seconds; 
Eft second halves of the firsts; octave A, divisi first 
halves/ Ex, 10. 



HOW HE WORKED 



139 




f fc* " 



?* 



^. 



'What have you got for your last chord ?' 

*Db, Bb, violas; octave G's in the seconds; Bb, 

second halves of the firsts; octave F, first halves/ 
'No, that won't do ! Make a note of the chord for 

the next bar, Cb, F, 'cellos divisi; A in the violas ; Eb, 

seconds; A, firsts.' Ex. n. 



140 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

'Alter the distribution 
of that other chord; Db, 
second 'cellos; Gand Bb, 
violas; Fand G, seconds; 
Bb and F, firsts/ Ex. 12. 

'Bring the F's down to E 
on the last beat of the bar. 
Now the next bar, the 
chord I've already given 
you, move the Cb in the 
'cellos down to Bb for a > r 
dotted half note on the fifth /y<> j 
beat, and the other voices 
a beat after ; no, I'm wrong, 
the Eb in the seconds 




ft'l 






pp 






should move 
down to D on 
the fifth beat (a 
quarter note) and 
then to a half note 

cr 

I sensed that 
he wanted a 7-6 
progression over 
the 'cello Bb and 
that the chord on 
the first beat of 
the following bar 



HOW HE WORKED 



141 



would be relative to the chord of F, so I tried to help 
him out: 

'First violins, A to a half note G; violas, A to Bb ; 
'cellos, F to E.' 

'That's it; now a strong chord held through the bar, 
A and D in the 'cellos, fifths in the violas (F and C) 
non-divisi; C and F in the seconds and the same 
phrase as we had at the beginning in the firsts, Tar - 
tar, tar, tar - hold it seven beats' (sings it). Ex. 13. 




*Now go back and give that flute counterpoint to the 
oboe, beginning the bar after the horn call; you'll see 
at a glance how it fits. The first note is A (second 
space), and repeat the horn call (first note to sound 
Bb).' Ex. 14. 



142 



DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

Fx. 




ci "r 



^ 



5E3 



c Have you got that ?' 



'Go on to that long note in the first violins, the same 
chord but C in the 'cellos ; F in the violas (first line) ; 
A and D, seconds; and let the basses double the 
'cellos at the octave from that C onwards. That same 
waving figure again 1 - sings it - 'and change the upper 
strings to Bb, F, A; F, fourth space in the violas; 



HOW HE WORKED 



143 



Bb below the stave, seconds. Mark that bar piano 
and repeat it pianissimo and 'cellos and basses hold the 
D through the bar.' Ex. 15. 



- /r. 




tr 



f 



It 



c Now, two more bars to lead into the | movement. 
Violas, D and F|; second violins, Bl]; 'cellos, D 
below the stave and A, first space; basses, in fourths, 
you know what I mean ! First horn, three half notes, 
then a quarter note* - sings the phrase - 'and repeat 
in the next bar* At that bar bassoons at same pitch 
as violas playing same notes solo/ Ex, 16. 

'Bring the bassoons down a semitone in thirds on 
the last beat, and give the 'cellos and basses the same 
rhythm as the bar before that strong chord' - sings it - 
*ter - ter, ter - ter. Take the octave A's in the 'cellos 
and basses down to G # at the beginning of the last 
bar and go down chromatically to end on F# on the 
first beat of the | movement in that rhythm/ Ex, 17. 



144 



DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 




'It would be an improvement if, in the first bar, you 
changed the F# in the violas on the fifth beat to Ft]. 
Give those two notes, F#to Ft), to the second horn, 
and that seagull figure to the flute again. This time 
vary it. Start the flutter up from D (fourth line), the 
first ti, er - (G#), and the second one upwards this 
time 1 (sings it). 

'You mean D, F| ?' 



HOW HE WORKED 145 

'Yes. Repeat the flutter up on the bassoon in the last 
bar, starting from B (the same note as the solo horn), 
and at the ti, er - come down from E# to Cj.' Ex. 18. 

At the end will be found the complete passage 



1 



^^ 



3* 



ff^ 



=$?F 

after it had been played over to the composer at the 
piano, unproved here and there in detail and finally 
set up in print. 

The foregoing remarks must not lead the reader 
to think that composition by dictation proceeded in 



146 DELIUSASIKNEWHIM 



J./** . t 



ijjJA li.-v 




V """W 



HOW HE WORKED 



147 



a calm and leisurely way* On the contrary, the 
composer dictated with great rapidity, and with one 
or two exceptions - for instance, the closing bars of 
Songs of Farewell -the accompanying mood was one 
of frenzy and great physical activity. He could not 
keep still, but would wriggle about in his armchair, 
gesticulating wildly with his hands to a degree that 
would have been impossible in a more collected mood 
until, bathed in perspiration, he could go on no longer. 
Then he would be carried away exhausted* This new 
opening to A Song of Summer was the easiest of all. 
We will now turn to a more difficult undertaking - 
the second movement of Songs of Farewell. Of this, 
the orchestral introduction (Example 20) already 
existed in short score. Note the 'backward tracing/ 1 
the theme in the horns in the last two bars, which 
plays a prominent part in the development of this 
short movement. 




1 Hassan. 



148 DELIDS AS I KNEW HIM 

Delius, having memorised the words, set to work as 
follows : 

Tirst, I want you to read the words to me, then 
play the opening.' 

I began: 

*I stand as on s'ome mighty eagle's beak, 
Eastward the sea absorbing, viewing (nothing but sea 

and sky) 

The tossing waves, the foam, the ships in the distance, 
The wild unrest, the snowy, curling caps - that inbound 

urge and urge of waves, 
Seeking the shores for ever/ 

I now played over the opening. At the last bar he 
called out, 'Now then, go on- "I stand as on some 
mighty eagle's beak" - chord of C.' Here I played 
the particular disposition of the chord that I had in 
mind, but he corrected me - *No, the top note E, not 
C ! - now hold it - "Eastward the sea" - change the 
chord at "sea," Bb in the bass, and reach out to top G, 
hold it -"sea absorbing, viewing nothing"; at 
"nothing," change the chord - A major, "nothing but 
sea and sky." ' 

After playing this, I jotted it down. 

He then went on: 

'Now, to suggest the rolling of the sea, go backwards 
and forwards on each half note-C#, Ct|, Q, Ctf 
(sings and calls out the notes). * "The tossing waves" 

- octaves in the basses A, B minor in the right hand ; 
keep the C# ; now work up - ter, ter, ter, ter'- sings B, 
A, C, B extitedly-'that's it, F in the bass-"the foam" 

- now then, up !* - sings the note and I feel my way 
with chords. 



HOW HE WORKED 149 

When I was not writing during his dictation I was 
feeling my way at the keyboard, striking every note 
immediately after he had named it, and anticipating 
whenever possible what I thought would be the next 
chord as well as my musical instincts and his verbal 
directions would allow me. 

But to continue: 

'Yes, yes, that's it I* he went on, *now move the left 
hand up chromatically and mark it "trombones." 
"The ships in the distance" - move the whole chord 
up - yes - now what comes next ?* 

* "The wild unrest 1" ' 

'Strong chord on the brass; what's your last bass 
note ?' 

'B.' 

'Move up to chord of C - "the wild unrest" - on 
"unrest" change the chord, that rolling movement 
again, E to Eb ; A in the bass. Mark that a sforzando 
chord in the horns. "The snowy, curling caps" - a 
swaying movement | in a bar -now C, Eb, G, B, 
keep the inner parts and move up to C in the treble 
and down to A in the bass and repeat. Now same 
thing a half note lower and change the harmony.* 

At this point I fumbled about badly, not knowing 
precisely what he meant. After a time I stumbled on 
the right progression, and quickly wrote it down, for 
he was already ahead - * "that inbound urge and urge 
of waves" - down to F# in the bass, chord of B - no, 
up to F#, that's it; hold the Ff- A in the bass, 
minor chord -"and urge" -now on the second 
"urge" hold the chord and go down to E in the bass - 
"urge of waves" - on "waves" come down to E, A 



DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

to G#-yes-but play Oj, not C#-"seeking the 
shores for ever" back to C major on "seeking/* and 
on "shores" go up to G. 3 Here he sang the soprano 
phrase 'shores for ever* and left it at that. 

*Now play the whole thing through from the begin- 
ning and recite the words when you come to them/ 
Example ai will give some idea of what I played. 

Er*. 









A *^^- 



',^ 




HOW HE WORKED 151 

When I reached the 'shores for ever' he called out, 
'Now come up from C below the line in the 'cellos 
rather like the opening* - sings the phrase - 'and come 
down chromatically in sixths with the seconds. Move 
the bass in quarter notes and the sopranos in half 
notes on shores/ Ex. 22. 



JJL 






' 



\ 



'Now repeat that last phrase in quarter notes in the 
strings and keep the inner parts moving chromatically 
- no, no, down a whole tone in the bass and lead into 
the opening theme in the 'cellos/ Here he sang each 
part ahead whilst I endeavoured to reproduce the 
progression at the piano. Ex. 23. 




That VMS enough for one day* 

At the next two sessions he shaped the chorus parts 
from the crude chunks of sound of Example 21, 
gave more definition to the movement of the chords, 
and sketched the ending. Ex. 24. 

I wondered what he would do with the horn theme 
(bars ID and n of the introduction) and was not 
surprised when he said that he wanted it to 'run 
through the movement,* first in the wind, then in the 
strings. The tiny interjections by the flute were meant 



DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 



I III 1 1 1 II t 




HOW HE WORKED 



153 



Jw>r-3 



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ME 



=fe 



t~K- Ki 



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tt 



P 



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fff 



i i M 




DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

to 'suggest the tints of white on the crests of the 
waves' (bars 2,3, and 4 of the I movement) . Example 
25 should make that clear. 





At 'sky' he inserted another bar of that 'rolling* 
movement (from C# to Ctj), and said that after that 
bar the strings should take up the horn theme, but 
before doing so they must ascend gradually in octaves 
to the high C# after 'sky/ beginning at the word 
'viewing/ Having dictated this, he freed the basses at 
'the tossing waves' and added a trumpet note sforzando 
at 'foam,' to 'give a touch of fire to the colouring/ 
The 'horn theme* was then developed in the high 
strings as shown in Example 26. 



HOW HE WORKED 155 

These rough sketches in short score were now 
dispensed with, and we began to work in full score. 
The pages at the end of the book give the patient 
reader the whole movement as he hears it in the 
concert-room. 

These illustrations, the opening of A Song of Sum- 
mer and the second movement of Songs of Farewell, 
remain most clearly in my mind as two of the few 
instances in which Delius appeared to know fairly 
accurately the notation of the music he wished me to 
write down before a note of it had been realised in 
sound at the keyboard. An account of what hap- 
pened when he felt moved suddenly to compose with- 
out premeditation, as it were, would be unreadable, 
even if what I have already attempted is readable, 
were I to describe it here. 

Such was the way Delius worked during his last 
years of fitful creative activity. 

Such, too, was my privilege in helping him. 



Ex. 26 follows 



156 



DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 



14 






A**, 




sgafe 



, It*. 



HOW HE WORKED 



157 



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*H nM t/ j= 

^:j^:g=i3^ 










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PAST THREE 

SOME ASPECTS OF 

THE MAN AND THE COMPOSER 

AS I KNEW HIM 



WHAT can we know of any man ? And, when 
all is said and done, how little do we under- 
stand those of whom we boast that we can 
read them like an open book. We tack on to some 
obvious idiosyncrasy, some loose remark, some stray 
gesture, and from these things we draw our host of 
vain conclusions, good or evil, according to the 
measure of our nature. Seldom do we realise in our 
everyday dealings with others that the simplest nature 
is an unfathomable mine of complexity, responding in 
incalculable ways to the subtle probings of that infini- 
tude of things that makes this life of ours what it is, 
and even though we may sometimes remember this, 
we are all too prone and eager to forget it. 

There are some who say that knowledge of the man 
behind the work of art is unnecessary, and they are 
probably right, for few of us improve on closer 
acquaintanceship. Yet there are others who, the more 
they hear or see of a work of art, the more keenly are 
they interested in the man, the mind of the man who 
created it, and the conditions and circumstances under 
which it was created. This, I think, is a natural and 
healthy curiosity so long as a true sense of values is 
maintained. That is not easy in this godless age; 
it is well-nigh impossible. A constant, almost super- 
human effort is required if one would detach oneself 
yet mingle freely with the throng and preserve intact 
one's innocency of vision. 

161 



I&2 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

Man of Himself can create nothing. The impetus 
for creation is not of this world, this world that 'is 
too much with us/ and it is just because there are so 
few who have spiritual insight into things not of this 
world that our sense of values is so easily warped. 
Again, how few there are who can appreciate a work 
of art without conjuring up in their minds a picture 
of the super-man who fashioned it by giving that 
impetus from within the form they now enjoy. Let 
them give the creator the homage and gratitude he 
deserves for developing the powers that distinguish 
him from his fellows, and for the diligence with which 
he has turned that mysterious inner driving-power to 
beautiful account. But let them not make a god of 
him, for these creators are apt to turn out, after all, 
to be mere men, with the failings of men, like the rest 
of us. It is a sad reflection on the prevailing spirit 
of our times that it should be necessary to deplore 
such a false attitude of mind. That it exists, in a much 
more general degree than is usually supposed, has long 
been painfully evident to me by the absurd comments 
that I have heard from the mouths of so many people 
conceiving Delius. The moment they began to talk 
about the man, it seemed that they had lost all sense 
of proportion. 

The musician Delius was greater than the man 
Delius. He lives for us now in his music, and not by 
reason of his outstanding qualities as a man. I doubt 
whether we should ever have heard of him apart 
from. it. 

What was extraordinary in the man as I knew him 
was not so much that which was inherent in his nature 



THE MAN AND THE COMPOSER 163 

(as with a man like Beecham, who would have excelled 
in almost anything to which he had applied that 
remarkable brain of his), but that which was largely 
the fruit of his Unbelief and the seduded life he found 
it necessary to lead in order to perfect his art, namely 
his intellectual isolation, his inhuman aloofness, his 
penetrating truthfulness, wholly indifferent thereby 
whether he hurt people or not, his utter contempt for 
*the crowd/ and his all-embracing self-sufficiency. 
To these were added his colossal egotism, his dreadful 
selfishness, his splendid generosity (particularly to 
those of his old friends who had fallen on hard times), 
his equal indifference to money and honours, his 
exceptional refinement, and his noble triumph over an 
almost total physical incapacitation. 

That he was a true artist if ever there was one, none 
can deny. Everything and everybody were sub- 
servient to the chief business of his life - his music. 
That was the only thing that mattered* The rest 
could go. 

It was fortunate for him and for us that he met and 
married Jelka Rosen when he did, otherwise we might 
also never have heard of him as a musician, for he was 
not one of those men who can organise their lives. 
She did it for him, and it was no easy task. 

Their first meeting had not been very promising. 
She had known that he was a composer, and he had 
said that he loved Grieg's songs; she had offered to 
sing some for him. He had winced when she had 
started and been polite when she had ended. The 
discovery that they had a common interest that 
dominated their lives -their mutual enthusiasm for 



164 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

the philosophy of Nietzsche gradually drew them 
together in a way that nothing else could have done. 

It must not be imagined that Delius had always been 
the country dreamer that the music of his maturity 
would seem to suggest. There had been a wild and 
reckless youth spent in the great cities of the world, 
with much travelling over half the earth, and many 
love-affairs, and one, the affair of his life, which had 
come to nothing. There had been no inclination to 
settle down in the country now that his studies at 
Leipzig were completed. On the contrary, he loved 
the Paris of those days, and the gay and picturesque 
Scandinavian students there who were so vital to his 
happiness. The men liked him; the women adored 
him. But there were moments when he felt he must 
get away from the market-place; that that noble urge 
to creation which he felt within him, which alone 
seemed worth while, and which set him apart from 
other men, must be preserved at all costs. 

The three months that he had spent entirely alone 
on his orange-grove in Florida before going to 
Leipzig had been a revelation to him. *I was demora- 
lised when I left Bradford for Florida/ he told me; 
*you can have no idea of the state of my mind in those 
clays. In Florida, through sitting and gazing at 
Nature, I gradually learnt the way in which I should 
eventually find myself, but it was not until years after 
I had settled at Grez that I really found myself. 
Nobody could help me. Contemplation, like composi- 
tion, cannot be taught.* 

Since those days when the stillness of nature had 
first calmed the troubled waters of his soul, he had 



THE MAN AND THE COMPOSER 165 

known in his heart that he had something to give, 
something to say about life in terms of music that no 
one else could give or say* This noble urge which 
stirred him so strangely was the only spiritual thing 
in life for which he had reverence, and this remained 
so unto the end of his days* 

The second call, as he himself confessed, was a call 
to a much more complicated being than the mere boy 
who had sailed for Florida. That first call had been 
a call of the boy to the man in him; the second call 
should have been the call of the man to the boy in him. 
But it was the call of the man to the man in him, the 
call of Nietzsche's super-man, Zarathustra. 

Open still remained! the earth for great souls. Empty are 
still many sites for lone ones and twain ones, around which 
floateth the odour of tranquil seas. 

Open still remaineth a free life for g*eat souls. Verily, he 
who possesseth little is so much the less possessed: blessed be 
moderate poverty I 

There, when the state ceaseth - there only commenceth the 
man who is not superfluous: there commenceth the song of 
the necessary ones, the single and irreplaceable melody 

Flee, my friend, into thy solitude ! I see thee deafened 
with the noise of the great men, and stung all over with the 
stings of the little ones. 

Admirably do forest and rock know how to be silent with 
thee. Resemble again the tree which thou lovest, the broad- 
branched one - silently and attentively it o'erhangeth the sea. 

Where solitude endeth, there begianeth the market-place; 
and where the market-place beginneth, there beginneth also 
the noise of the great actors, and the buzzing of the poison* 
flies. 

little do the people understand what is great - that is to 



166 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

say, the creating agency. But they have a taste for all repre- 
senters and actors of great things. ... 

Full of clattering buffoons is the market-place - and the 
people glory in their great men ! These are for them the 
masters of the hour 

Slow is the experience of all deep fountains : long have they 
to wait until they know what hath fallen into their depths 

Flee into thy solitude ! Thou hast lived too closely to the 
small and the pitiable. Flee from their invisible vengeance ! 
Towards thee they have nothing but vengeance. . . . 

They flatter thee, as one flattereth a God or Devil; they 
whimper before thee, as before &T God or Devil. What doth it 
come to ? Flatterers are they, and whimperers, and nothing 
more. 

Often, also, do they show themselves to thee as amiable 
ones. But that hath ever been the prudence of the cowardly. 
Yea ! the cowardly are wise ! . , . 

Because thou art gentle and of upright character, thou 
sayest: 'Blameless are they for their small existence.' But 
these circumscribed souls think: 'Blamable is all great 
existence.' ... 

In thy presence they feel themselves small, and their 
baseness gleameth and gloweth against thee in invisible 
vengeance. 

Sawest thou not how often they became dumb when thou 
approachedst them, and how their energy left them like the 
smoke of an extinguishing fire ? 

Yea, my friend, the bad conscience art thou of thy neigh- 
bours; for they are unworthy of thee. Therefore they hate 
thee, and would fain suck thy blood. 

Thy neighbours will always be poisonous' flies; what is 
great in thee - that itself must make them more poisonous, 
and more fly-like. 

Flee, my friend, into thy solitude - and thither, where a 
rough strong breeze bloweth. It is not thy lot to be a fly- 
flap. . . . 



THE MAN AND THE COMPOSER 167 

Ye higher men, learn this from me: On the market-place 
no one believeth in higher men. But if ye will speak there, very 
well ! The populace, however, blinketh : * We are all equal.' 

* Ye higher men* - so blinketh the populace - 'there are no 
higher men, we are all equal; man is man, before God we 
are all equal !' 

Before God ! - Now, however, this God hath died. Before 
the populace, however, we will not be equal. Ye higher men, 
away from the market-place ! 

Before God ! Now, however, this God hath died ! Ye 
higher men, this God was your greatest danger. 

Only since he lay in the grave have ye again arisen. Now 
only cometh the great noontide, now only doth the higher man 
become - master ! 

Have ye understood this word, O my brethren ? ye are 
frightened ; do your hearts turn giddy ? Doth the abyss yawn 
for you ? Doth the hell-hound here yelp at you ? 

Well ! Take heart ! ye higher men ! Now only travaileth 
the mountain of the human future. God hath died : now do 
toe desire - the Superman to live. 

No matter what the motive, withdrawal from the 
world, if even for but a brief period, has usually been 
the first step that a man has taken on the road to high 
endeavour. 

At such times of tremendous inner conflict Delius 
would pack his bag and lose himself in the country 
for weeks together, thinking only of his work; and, 
when he could bear that no longer, back he would 
come to Paris and plunge again into the whirlpool of 
life. Not that he was lazy. Even amid the thousand 
and one distractions of Paris the habit of regular work 
which he had acquired from Ward, out there in 
Florida, never left him. That virtue was the surest 



168 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

defence against a nature and temperament such as his, 
and it saved him. Ward, a devout Catholic and his 
senior by a few months, had known his pupil for what 
he was - a headstrong, boisterous, hot-blooded young 
fellow with more than a streak of the adventurer in 
him - and he had taken him well in hand. 

I remember my amusement when, on turning over 
the pages of an illustrated edition of the complete 
works of Byron bearing the inscription 'From Thomas 
F. Ward, Jacksonville, Florida, to Fritz Delius, 
Leipzig, Germany/ I found the following passage 
heavily scored and marked by a pressed flower: 

The youth who trains, or runs a race, 
Must bear privations with unruffled face, 
Be calFd to labour when he thinks to dine, 
And, harder still, leave wenching, and his wine. 

Speaking of those early days, Delius once said to 
me, *It was not until I began to attend the harmony 
and counterpoint classes at the Leipzig Conserva- 
torium that I realised the sterling worth of Ward as a 
teacher. He was excellent for what I wanted to know, 
and a most charming fellow into the bargain. Had it 
not been that there were great opportunities for hear- 
ing music and talking music, and that I met Grieg, 
my studies at Leipzig were a complete waste of time. 
As far as my composing was concerned, Ward's 
counterpoint lessons were the only lessons from which 
I ever derived any benefit. Towards the end of my 
course with him - and he made me work like a nigger- 
he showed wonderful insight in helping me to find out 
just how much in the way of traditional technique 



THE MAN AND THE COMPOSER 169 

would be useful to me/ After a pause, in which he 
appeared to be deep in thought, he added, 'And 
there wasn't much. A sense of flow is the main 
thing, and it doesn't matter how you do it so long as 
you master it/ 

Unhappily, Ward did not live to see his pupil 
famous, but died of tuberculosis, after spending the 
last years of his short life in a monastery. 

A quiet, regulated country existence, then, was not 
very much to the taste of this fiery young Delius, still 
in his early thirties, but he felt that if he was to find 
himself, and realise his ambition as a composer, no 
other life was possible. It meant sacrificing a great 
many things without which, mistakenly enough, he 
thought he could not live, and it was not done all in a 
day. Long after he had settled at Grez-sur-Loing, 
Delius was ever clamouring to be off to Paris. After a 
few days of concentrated work on some score, he 
would suddenly come downstairs from his music- 
room, surprise his wife at her painting in the garden, 
and announce his intention of taking the next train to 
Paris. He wanted a change. 

A woman possessing less tact and understanding 
would have made many a scene, but she knew that he 
would eventually see for himself the futility of all this 
gadding about for half the night on the Montparnasse 
with companions, most of whom were worthless. 

Delius was a very fortunate man in most respects. 
It was always his good luck to meet precisely thfe very 
people he needed at the crucial stages of his career. 
First there came Ward, who gave him a sound 
grounding in his art; then Grieg, who encouraged 

M 



170 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

him with his friendship and practical advice, and to 
whom he continued to send his scores for comment 
after he had left Leipzig; then Jelka Rosen, to whom 
he was well mated, and who made it materially 
possible .for him to devote himself entirely to composi- 
tion; and, lastly, Beecham, who did everything that a 
man could do to establish his genius. 

As I see it, it is a tragedy that Ward's influence was 
a purely musical one. Would that, together with 
those seeds of musical culture, Ward could have sown 
but a few of the Catholic culture, not so much as to 
make his pupil a Catholic, but, at least, a believer; 
for with belief there would have come that joy which 
is not to be found in his music, and which constitutes 
its chief defect. What joy there is, is as an echo 
through the ages of the joys of pagan antiquity - the 
joy of the gods, and the delight in all natural things 
before the world was born again. It is tinged with the 
sadness with which all joy must be tinged that is not 
born of that virtue which Christianity brought into 
the world - hope. And there is no hope in Delius's 
music. 

'Lift up your hearts, my brethren, high, higher P 
sings Zarathustra in the Mass of Life, 'and do not 
forget your legs ! Lift up also your legs, ye good 
dancers, and better still if ye stand upon your heads ! 
This crown of the laugher, this rose-garland crown : 
I myself have put on this crown, I myself have 
consecrated my laughter.' For all this, he cannot 
exult, nor can he dance, and the faintest flicker of a 
smile never crosses his face. 

Despite its undeniable grandeur, its strength, its 



THE MAN AND THE COMPOSER 171 

moving passages of ravishing beauty when the poetry 
of both poet and composer is at its most musical, I 
have never yet come away from a performance of the 
Mass of Life without feeling depressed. I am not 
alone in this. Several others have had like experience. 
Better, as one of them said, somewhat irreverently, 
had it been called the Mess of Life, 

Already as a youth, when he had left Bradford on 
his first visit to Florida, Delius was at heart a pagan. 
A young mind, such as his, that had been nurtured 
chiefly on detective stories and penny dreadfuls, was 
not likely to forget that incident he had witnessed in 
Bradford when Bradlaugh had stood, with his watch 
in his hand, calling on his Creator-to strike him dead 
within two minutes if He existed ! Delius had never 
forgotten that two minutes. It had made a lasting 
impression on him. 

When, one wet day, a few years later, he was 
looking for something to read in the library of a 
Norwegian friend with whom he was staying during a 
walking tour, and had taken down a book, Thus Spake 
Zarathustra-* book, for all and none -by one 
Friedrich Nietzsche, he was ripe for it. That book, 
he told me, never left his hands until he had devoured 
it from cover to cover. It was the very book he had 
been seeking all along, and finding that book he 
declared to be one of the most important events of his 
life. Nor did he rest content until he had read every 
work of Nietzsche that he could lay his hands on ; and 
the poison entered into his soul. 

Given those great natural musical gifts and that 
nature of his, so full of feeling, and which at its finest 



172 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

inclined to that exalted end of man which is contem- 
plation, there is no knowing to what sublime heights 
he would have risen had he chosen to look upwards 
to God instead of downwards to man ! It was just 
the difference between upwards and downwards, 
but what a difference ! *Ye look aloft when ye long 
for exaltation, and I look downward because I am 
exalted/ says Nietzsche's Zarathustra. It is this 
looking downward that chains Delius's music to the 
earth. 

There are many for whom this music is too much of 
the earth earthy. None would have complained had it 
been too much of heaven heavenly, for no music can 
be too heavenly. It is the lack of heaven in the minds 
of its creators that is the curse of music. As yet we 
have no standard of comparison by which the truth of 
this may be judged. Oh, for a modern Palestrina to 
breathe into the voices of the modern orchestra the 
music of that joy of joys, that blessed felicity that 
would transport us with an earthly tasting of eternal 
bliss ! 

If, following the way of the great Christian contem- 
platives, Delius had chosen to look aloft, he would 
have brought heaven to earth, for, constructing music 
as he did by feeling alone within the structure of his 
particular sense of form, and with his delicate touch 
and refinement, he would have been the perfect com- 
poser for those long flights of musical felicity which 
none have attempted, yet which I pray I may hear 
from some composer ere I die. Such music, when it 
comes, will be the music of Eternal Life. 

It is a confession of the utmost spiritual poverty of 



THE MAN AND THE COMPOSER 173 

soul to maintain, as so many moderns maintain, that 
the possibilities of music have been exhausted. Of 
the higher realms of spiritual exploration music has 
said very little; of the highest realm, next to nothing 
at all. This is strange, yet not strange. Strange, 
because music is of all the arts the one and only art 
that can give expression to the. mystery of heavenly 
things, the one language in which the inexpressible is 
expressible, and not strange in that the creation of the 
kind of music that I am trying to define, and in which 
Delius would have excelled, would demand rare 
qualities of mind and disposition in the soul of the 
creator. 

Music some think no music is 
Unless she sing of clip and kiss, 
And bring to wanton tunes fie fie, 
Or ti-ha ta-ha or I'll cry, 
But let such rhymes no more disgrace 
Music sprung of heavenly race. 

That is rather an excess of zeal, for a balanced life 
of action and contemplation is as essential in the ideal 
type of composer as in the anchorite, but the poet had 
the root of the matter in him. Let composers write as 
much active music as they may, and hard necessity 
will see to it that they are not failing in this, but would 
that more often they would practise that higher 
contemplation, not, as with Delius, finding their chief 
inspiration in the works of God, but, in the words of 
one of the greatest of all mystics - John of Ruysbroeck 
- in 'the most noble and the most profitable contem- 
plation to which one can attain in this life, 1 the 
contemplation of God Himself. 



174 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

'Man,* says Ruysbroeck, 'created in the image and 
after the likeness of God, has a natural tendency 
towards God, because of the spark of the soul, and 
because of the highest reason, which always desires 
the good and hates the evil. 



'And he shall raise his enlightened eyes, by means 
of the illuminated reason, to the intelligible Truth, 
and mark and behold in a creaturely way the most high 
Nature of God and the fathomless attributes which 
are in God: For to a fathomless Nature belong 
fathomless virtues and activities. 

'The most high Nature of the Godhead may thus be 
perceived and beheld : how it is Simplicity and One- 
foldness, inaccessible Height and bottomless Depth, 
incomprehensible Breadth and eternal Length, a dark 
Silence, a wild Desert, the Rest of all saints in the 
Unity, and a common Fruition of Himself and all 
saints in Eternity. And many other marvels may be 
seen in the abysmal Sea of the Godhead; and though, 
because of the grossness of the senses to which they 
must be shown from without, we must use sensible 
images, yet, in truth, these things are perceived and 
beheld from within, as an abysmal and unconditioned 
Good. But if they must be shown from without, it 
must be done by means of diverse similitudes and 
images, according to the enlightenment of the reason 
of him who shapes and shows them. The enlightened 
man shall also mark and behold the attributes of the 
Father in the Godhead: how He is omnipotent Power 
and Might, Creator, Mover, Preserver, Beginning and 



THE MAN AND THE COMPOSER 175 

End, the Origin and Being of all creatures. This the 
rill of grace shows to the enlightened reason in its 
radiance. It also shows the attributes of the Eternal 
Word: abysmal Wisdom and Truth, Pattern of all 
creatures and all life, Eternal a*id unchanging Rule, 
none of which is hidden from Him : Transillumination 
and Enlightenment of all saints in heaven and on 
earth, according to the merits of each. And even as 
this rill of radiance shows the distinctions between 
many things, so it also shows to the enlightened 
reason the attributes of the Holy Ghost: incompre- 
hensible Love and Generosity, Compassion and 
Mercy, infinite Faithfulness and Benevolence, incon- 
ceivable Greatness, outpouring Richness, a limitless 
Goodness, drenching through all heavenly spirits 
with delight, a Flame of Fire which burns all things 
together in the Unity, a flowing Fountain, rich in all 
savours, according to the desire of each; the Prepara- 
tion of all saints for their eternal bliss and their 
entrance therein, an Embrace and Penetration of the 
Father, Son, and all saints in fruitive Unity. All this 
is observed and beheld without differentiation or 
division in the simple Nature of the Godhead.* 

The way of this *most noble and profitable contem- 
plation/ this 'perpetual striving after the unattain- 
able,* this 'swimming against the stream -busy in 
ourselves, idle in God/ this 'seeing and beholding of 
Truth which/ says St. Augustine, *is the seventh and 
last stage of the soul (and not indeed a stage but a habi- 
tation to which she attains by these stages)/ Ruys- 
broeck describes with exceptional clarity and direct- 
ness : 'But if above all things we would taste God, and 



176 DELIDS AS I KNEW HIM 

feel eternal life in ourselves, we must go forth into God 
with our feeling, above reason; and there we must 
abide, onefold, empty of ourselves, and free from 
images, lifted up by love into the simple bareness of 
our intelligence. For when we go out in love beyond 
and above all things, and die to all observation in 
ignorance and in darkness, then we are wrought and 
transformed through the Eternal Word, Who is the 
linage of the Father* In this idleness of our spirit, we 
receive the Incomprehensible Light which enwraps us 
and penetrates us, as the air is penetrated by the light 
of the sun. And this Light is nothing else than a 
fathomless staring and seeing. What we are, that we 
behold; and what we behold, that we are: for our 
thought, our life, and our being are uplifted in 
simplicity, and made one with the Truth which is God. 
And therefore in this simple staring we are one life 
and one spirit with God.* 

If Delius had understood contemplation in this 
traditional and Dionysian sense, what a musician we 
should have had ! He would have been unquestion- 
ably the greatest composer of his generation, and the 
most inspiring composer who ever put pen to paper. 
With what serenity he sang of the loveliness that is fast 
passing away before our eyes, of creaturely happiness 
short-lived, never more to return. But we need to 
forget the misery of this our exile, and be made 
mindful of the happiness which is our destiny. With 
what serenity would he have sung had he beheld 'God 
in all things, without distinction, in a simple seeing, 
in the Divine brightness' I He had no faith in God, no 
faith in his fellow men, only a proud and simple faith 



THE MAN AND THE COMPOSER . 177 

in himself. All through his self-guided life he was 
blind to what he was doing, blind in the highest sense 
of the word, directing his untiring energy to the 
worship of Pure Beauty as a supreme end in itself, 
instead of to that end of ends which is God. 

Such an opinion, for what it is worth in these days, 
would have once seemed sound and normal to the 
generality of men, who saw things unconsciously 
through the light of a common faith. Now all that is 
gone, and it is unlikely that it will find favour any- 
where, least of all in the Delius camp. I am well 
aware of the ridicule that it will bring on my head. 
Nevertheless, I shall hold to it tenaciously, knowing 
that, should I live to be an old man, I shall still think 
the same, and my admiration for Delius's music will in 
no wise have suffered thereby. 

From my very first days in Grez I tried desperately 
hard to understand Delius and his attitude towards 
life, and all through the years there I was ever careful 
to avoid the slightest mention of religion. Religion, 
like health, is never harped upon save by the 
unhealthy. 

My position was not easy, however, for as time went 
on the old man gradually grew to take a fatherly 
interest in my mental development. 'You must 
always tell me what you think about things,* said he 
one evening (several months after I had been in Gres), 
as I wheeled him up the hill out of the village in 
search of coolness. 'Perhaps I may be able to help 
you/ 

I should have been very communicative about many 
things other than music had he not killed all my desire 



178 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

to be so by a remark which he made a few days later. 
We had been talking about Haydn, and I had said that 
I thought he was a much greater composer than most 
musicians seemed to admit ; that I was most anxious to 
hear a performance of his Creation. I had seen the 
score, and been so amazed by the many modern 
touches in the instrumentation that I had laughed with 
delight. 'There is one enchanting passage, Delius,* 
said I, 'that always makes me wish that I had known 
old Haydn every time I think of it. It goes, "And 
God created great whales, and every . . " * 

'God ?' interrupted Delius. 'God ? I don't know 
Him!' 

This was not all. 

Shortly afterwards, during another evening walk, 
apropos of something we were discussing, he said, 
'Given a young composer of genius, the surest way to 
ruin him is to make a Christian of him. He will end 
up by being a second Perosi. Look at Elgar. He 
might have been a great composer if he had thrown all 
that religious paraphernalia overboard. Gerontius is a 
nauseating work, and, of course, tremendously influ- 
enced by Parsifal.' 

I made no comment on either of these occasions. 

Again, after he had been particularly pleased with 
the quickness with which I had taken down some 
music, he hinted that he was really very disappointed 
in me. It was a pity that I was 'one of the weaklings.' 1 

The climax, when it did come, burst over me like 
a thunderclap. Robert Nichols had been paying 

1 Referring no doubt to the 'weaklings* in his Pagan Requiem who, 
filled with woe and fear, drugged themselves with dreams and golden 
visions, arid built themselves a house of lies to live in. 



THE MAN AND THE COMPOSER 179 

Delius a visit, and there had been a great deal of talk 
about Nietzsche between the two in the garden on 
the day on which Nichols had left. I had kept 
silent. That evening, when we were alone, without 
the slightest warning, Delius turned on me like a 
lion: 'Eric, I've been thinking. The sooner you get 
rid of all this Christian humbug the better. The 
whole traditional conception of life is false. Throw 
those great Christian blinkers away, and look around 
you and stand on your own feet and be a man. We 
are all sent into this world, we know not how and we 
know not why. We each have our own individualities, 
our own particular and varying natures, and our job 
is to find ourselves at all costs. Never be afraid of 
being yourself in spite of everything, and everybody. 
Be yourself, and don't trouble if it hurts anybody else. 
They'll soon get over it. That is the supreme test of 
a man -his ability to stand on his own. Look to 
yourself, and don't narrow and hedge in your life 
with conventional behaviour and all these silly moral 
restrictions that are the stupid invention of priests. 
Sex plays a tremendous part in life. It is terrible to 
think that we have come into this world by some 
despicable physical act. Don't believe all the tommy- 
rot priests tell you; learn and prove everything by 
your own experience. Do things and find things out 
for yourself, and don't be frightened of making a fool 
of yourself. If an unmarried girl came to me and said 
she had had a child, I should say, "My girl, you have 
done well." Take Christianity. Jesus was a beautiful 
character -if He ever existed -but if He was the 
Son of God, whatever that may mean, there was no 



l8o DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

merit whatever in His perfections, for in that He was 
God He set up an impossible ideal for man to imitate. 
I am inclined to think, along with Brandes, that the 
whole thing is a myth, like William Tell. One thing 
is cer^am - that English music will never be any good 
till they get rid of Jesus. Humanity is incredible. 
It will believe anything, anything to escape reality. 
We shall probably find in the end that man is no more 
than a mere vegetable. The whole system of things 
as we know it is a vast speculation. Tell me, what 
Catholic ever wrote a piece of music worth hearing ? J 

'But, Delius/ said I, 'what about that romantic 
thing that sprang from the very heart of the Catholic 
Church - plainsong ? When it is unaccompanied 
and sung with understanding, as it so rarely is, it 
never fails to move me. For me its power to move is 
almost as mysterious as the very nature of music 
itself/ 

*I see no mystery in it, 5 replied Delius emphatically, 
*just dullness ; and you are evading my question/ 

'Well, consider Palestrina and Victoria, two of my 
favourite composers and both devout Catholics/ I 
pleaded. 'You must admit that a motet like Pales- 
trina's Laudate Dominion is an astounding piece of 
music/ 

'What ! Do you call theirs fine music ? You 
should have said mathematics/ he snapped. 

*I grant you, Delius, that these two composers 
have been the cause of more musical snobbery than 
all the rest of them put together. I have heard people 
go into raptures over modern performances of 
Palestrina, when they should have been either helpless 



THE MAN AND THE COMPOSER l8l 

under the seats with laughter or completely distracted. 
I admit that there are times when both Palestrina 
and Victoria can be as dull as old Bach/ 

'And don't I know it,' put in Delius, with something 
of a sneer in his tone. 

'I'm speaking of their inspired pages, not when they 
functioned as mere craftsmen without having any- 
thing vital to say/ I continued. 

'No, my boy, it's no use/ concluded Delius, 'you'll 
never convince me that music will be any good until 
it gets rid of the Jesus element. It has paralysed music 
all along.* 

I argued that I did not see how a disciplined in- 
tellect in the harness of a strong and simple faith 
could harm any artist. Besides, one could not dismiss 
the religious experiences and intuitions common to 
men of all ages as things unworthy of consideration, 
but Delius merely replied that all artists were 'best 
rid of such nonsense/ 

The following Christinas he sent me a copy of 
Thus Spake Zarathustra with the accompanying note: 
'In introducing you to Nietzsche my intention is to 
open up new horizons to you. I myself do not 
subscribe to everything Nietzsche said, but I hail in 
him a sublime poet and a beautiful nature. I want to 
make myself very plain to you as regards religions and 
creeds. Personally I have no use for any of them. 
There is only one real happiness in life, and that is 
the happiness of creating/ 

I did not get along very well with Zarathustra. I 
was prejudiced before I started, for it was my mis- 
fortune to come across some of Nietzsche's music. 



182 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

Whatever he may have been as a philosopher, what- 
ever he may have been as a poet, the Reverend John 
Bacchus Dykes, that infallible, touchstone in matters 
of this kind, and -without mention of whom no essay 
on DeEus would be complete, was a veritable Mozart 
compared with Nietzsche as a composer. Since then 
I have never been able to take the fellow seriously. 

Delius knew nothing of this, for he had the pro- 
foundest admiration for the man and his work, so 
much so that I often thought it was Nietzsche himself 
addressing me. Sayings such as these that come 
haphazard into my mind as I write: 'Christianity 
preaches Death.' 'There is little difference as far as 
I can see between animals and the great mass of 
humanity. They live to feed themselves and take as 
much as they can from others. Man is the cruellest 
animal.' 'Sin as we know it is an invention of the 
Jews.' 4 To pity is to be weak. Don't let your heart 
run away with you or your head will soon be chasing 
it.* 'The state you call chastity is responsible for as 
much filth of soul as lust/ Sayings such as these, 
which sounded so novel and striking to a young man's 
ears, and particularly when a Delius had finished 
rolling his tongue round them, had all found perfect 
expression, had I then known it, in the rhapsodic 
utterances of Nietzsche. Many a time I discovered 
that they were word for word the same. It was not 
until Delius told me that it had been his habit, over a 
period of a great many years, to open Thus Spake 
Zarathmtra at random, take a chapter and ponder 
over it sometimes for weeks together, then, when he 
had extracted its essence, turn to another and do 



THE MAN AND THE COMPOSER 183 

likewise, that I realised something of the influence 
Nietzsche had exercised over him, and something of 
his disappointment in my polite refusal to follow his 
example. 

The occasion of this outburst was the only one on 
which there was ever anything approaching unpleas- 
antness between us, yet to the end he continued to 
taunt me for my persistence in being a Christian. 
Every time I went down to lunch or supper I was 
always in danger of heavy bombardment. If, during 
the reading of the day, he found anything that he 
could shoot against me, he would ask his man to give 
him the signal on my entrance to the room, and open 
fire before I had passed through the door. 

Once, when the guns were loaded, and the enemy 
had come into the room unobserved and surprised 
the sentry drowsing over his reading and the gunner 
snoring louder than the reading, the sentry, astonished, 
and faithful to his orders, gave the signal in a loud 
voice: 

'Herr Delius, Herr Fenby ist dar !' 

No response. 

The batde-cry was now transposed into a higher 
key: 

*Herr Delius, Herr Fenby ist dar ! f 

*Vas ist es ?* yawned Delius, coming to with a start. 

'Herr Fenby ist dar i* 

There was a pause, and I waited for the barrage to 
begin. It opened like a sudden dang of the heavy 
orchestral brass. 

*In 175 5 there was an earthquake in Lisbon. Thirty 
thousand people were destroyed in a few minutes I 



184 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

How do you reconcile that with your loving God who 
is supposed to mark the fall of every sparrow ?' 

*I know, Delius, it is very hard ; very hard indeed to 
understand the meaning of these things/ I replied 
quietly. 

'Then why do you believe as you do ?* he ques- 
tioned severely. 

It was now time to unload myself of a shot that 
always exasperated and silenced him, a remark made 
by Dr. Johnson; when 'talking *of those who denied 
the truth of Christianity/ he said, 'it is always easy 
to be on the negative side/ 

'Damn Dr. Johnson V he would say, and, clutching 
his breast, wriggle from side to side in his anger, and 
invariably would mutter something about the man's 
intelligence being 'sadly overrated.* I dreaded these 
encounters, for they always unsettled him until he 
had slept them off. 

Seldom did he miss an opportunity of poking good- 
natured fun at me in the presence of others. Once, 
when in the company of several distinguished 
musicians, he had ordered the wireless to be switched 
on, and none of them, himself included, knew the 
name of the work, nor the composer of the work that 
was being played (one of those appalling effusions the 
equivalent of that shocking taste in devotional objects 
which make most of our churches a purgatory on earth 
for sensitive people), he suddenly said, 'Go and fetch 
Fenby. He'll tell us what it is. He knows all about 
angels P 

There was, however, towards the end of my time at 
"Grez, one other occasion on which he was furious 



THE MAN AND THE COMPOSER 185 

with me. Apparently he thought I was paying too 
much attention to a very charming young English 
girl who was known by the lovely name of Soldanella, 
and who happened to be staying for a short while 
with her father, a great friend of mine, in the village. 
Having returned one afternoon from a stroll in the 
forest with her, I was told that Delius wished to speak 
to me privately on a matter of great importance. I 
would find him at the bottom of the garden. As I 
came round the corner by the. bamboos, I saw him 
sitting there in silence beneath 'the great trees with his 
head back, facing the sun, his man raiding an apple- 
tree near by. I walked across the lawn and greeted 
him with the usual, *Here we are, Delius.' 

'Eric/ he began sternly, with his usual outspoken- 
ness on such subjects, whether he was in the presence 
of his wife or not, *what are your intentions towards 
Miss ? Marriage ?' 

'But, Delius/ I explained, *I hardly know the girl I* 

'Well, you must never marry/ he continued 
severely. 'No artist should ever marry. He should 
be as free as the winds. Amuse yourself with as many 
women as you like, but for the sake of your art never 
marry one. It's fatal. And listen ; if you ever do have 
to marry, marry a girl who is more in love with your 
art than with you. It's from your art only that you 
will get lasting happiness in life, not from love. Love 
is a madness. The physical attraction soon plays 
itself out. Passionate affairs are like fireworks flaring 
up only to fizzle out. You are a fool if you ever marjy * 

I thanked him for his advice, and took up my book 
and began to read. 



186 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

Mention has been made of his absolute truthfulness, 
and how he always said exactly what he felt regardless 
of the feelings of others. He often upbraided me 
because I thought a more moderate course was some- 
times the better part of discretion. A very tiresome 
habit of his, and often a very embarrassing one in the 
presence of others, was to ask for your opinion before 
giving his own, then, if he thought that you tended 
to politeness rather than truthfulness, he would give 
it you soundly when the others had gone. On one 
occasion, when some friends of the performers had 
brought a test record of one of his works for his 
approval, I gave a very non-committal answer in reply 
to his usual question. Afterwards, when we were 
alone, he said, 'Eric, you knew the playing was bad, 
didn't you ?' 'Of course/ I replied, 'but it was rather 
a delicate situation/ 

'Nonsense,' said he, 'you knew it was bad; you 
should have said it was bad/ 

What always amazed me was the way he coated his 
pills of truthfulness with the most disarming polite- 
ness, so that no one could really take offence. Would 
that I could convey some idea of the many difficult 
situations in which his wife and I were paralysed with 
the fear of what he was going to say next ! 

When strangers came, he would take no part in the 
first few minutes of conversation, unless he was 
addressed, but sit silent and aloof, sizing his visitors 
up in his mind chiefly by the sound of their voices. 
An unpleasant voice always had a disastrous effect on 
him, and he would long for the offender to go. It 
was usually the women who were at fault. 



THE MAN AND THE COMPOSER 187 

*Eric, will you please take that woman away,' he 
would whisper, when he judged she was out of ear- 
shot. 'I can't bear the sound of her voice any longer/ 

His continual appearance of serenity - a serenity I 
always likened to the serenity of a lion as it sits gazing 
nonchalantly down at one at the Zoo - and his silence, 
ominous and full of awful possibilities, underlined 
his occasional remarks to a degree that had to be seen 
and heard to be believed. 

There was no nonsense about him, nor would he 
tolerate it in others, and if he was bored he showed it 
pretty plainly. Even when dining with friends, if the 
conversation was not equal to the good food and the 
good wine, for which his table was renowned, I have 
heard him suddenly say to his man, with the un- 
mistakable accent of a Yorkshireman, * Begin to read P 
and his guests have had to sit in silence for the rest 
of the meal. 

It is unlikely that I shall ever forget the visit of a 
certain violinist and his colleague, who came to Grez 
to treat the composer to their conception of his Sonata 
for Violin and Piano No. i. Their stay was almost as 
brief as their rendering, for, in the silence of the turn 
of the page between the slow movement and the 
energetic last movement, a voice from the corner was 
heard to say, 'Good afternoon. Take me away, 
please, and, Jelka, make the lady and gentleman some 
tea!' 

On another occasion, the visit of a famous string 
quartet who came to play Delius his own very un- 
satisfactory effort in that medium, and a very com- 
plicated quartet which Bernard van Dieren had just 



l88 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

dedicated to him, the leader, embarrassed by Delius's 
aloofness and anxious to make a good impression, 
proposed that they should start off by playing one of 
the last quartets of Beethoven. 

*Oh no, you won't/ came the response. *Oh no, 
you won't !' 

Woe betide anyone whom he found out to be a liar 
and a cheat. That person was never forgiven. I 
have seen Delius take an instant dislike to his man for 
no other reason than that he felt sure the fellow was 
not filling his glass to the brim. He knew the number 
of mouthfuls in a glass I 

As I watched his servants feeding him, dressing 
him, and carrying him hither and thither, the thought 
struck me more than once how terrible it was that 
with his lively contempt for ordinary men Delius 
should be so pathetically dependent on ordinary men. 
Nor would he stop for a moment to chat with the 
kindly villagers whom we frequently met in the 
evenings on our way up the street, or returning from 
their work in the fields. 

*If anybody comes up to us when we're out, 
take no notice, keep going/ were his orders when 
I first went to Grez. Never once did I see him 
unbend. 

No workman was ever allowed to pass near him as 
he sat in the garden, and, if the electrician called 
unexpectedly to examine the wireless, he was not 
admitted until Delius had been carried away, or they 
had put a great screen round him. He remained an 
autocrat to the very end. 

He set no store by the public taste* 'A few there 



THE MAN AND THE COMPOSER 189 

are who love and understand/ he would often say: 
'they are the ones that count. The rest are not worth 
bothering about. To be a success in England you Ve 
got to be a second Mendelssohn, He gave the public 
what they wanted, "O Rest in the Lord." * 

The sympathetic view to take is that he never 
understood the ordinary man because, so far as I can 
make out, he had never known the ordinary man. 
Once he had shaken the dust of Bradford from his 
feet, he seems to have associated with rather an odd sort 
of people, some of them very odd indeed, seeming 
to prefer that which was unusual in mankind to that 
which was normal. To hear him talk about the 
queer people with whom he had chiefly kept company 
during his formative years was always amusing, often 
fantastical. More than once he laughingly remarked 
that he wondered what some of the charming English 
friends his music had earned him would have thought 
about many of his former companions, most of whom 
appear to have been notable in various strange and 
unaccountable ways. In striking contrast to his 
turbulent youth, the Grez period in his life (1897- 
1934) was increasingly uneventful as the years went 
on save for the production of his works, until le 
mauvais gargon de Montparnasse y living more and 
more apart from his fellow men, gradually became 
the legendary recluse of Grez. 

The root of the whole trouble was, I think, his 
horror of the mediocre. 

I used to tell him that if he had ever talked to the 
ordinary man, as he pottered about in the little 
greenhouse of his allotment on his half-day holiday, 



DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

he would have found him a delightful fellow* Shake- 
speare would have been in his element with the house- 
painter downstairs who, as I write, breaks out 
spasmodically into song: *A hero I live . . . and a 
hero I shall die/ 

Chesterton has put the matter in a nutshell: 'The 
first-rate great man is equal with other men, like 
Shakespeare. The second-rate great man is on his 
knees to other men, like Whitman. The third-rate 
great man is superior to other men, like Whistler/ 

So we find that Delius's taste inclined to the par- 
ticular in things, as in men, rather than to the general 
- to champagne rather than water, to the chromatic 
rather than the diatonic. 

The fascinating northern dialect of a Grieg, the 
aristocratic and elegant utterance of a Chopin, he 
preferred to the common language of a Bach, a 
Beethoven, or a Sibelius. Being a man of excess, he 
exaggerated what in others was unessential. It had 
been so all his life. If he must smoke, then he must 
smoke all day long; if he was to have spinach, then 
spinach it had to be at almost every meal; if it was to 
be beautiful harmony, well, then, beautiful harmony 
it had to be all the time. There were no half-measures 
with Delius. In a man of less force and refinement 
such chromatic excess would have been positively 
harmful, as it was in Spohr, who lacked the strength 
and sweep of a Delius. Strength and refinement 
rarely go hand in hand; they are usually regarded as 
counter to one another; yet there are very few works 
in which these two seemingly opposite qualities are 
to be found in such measure as in the Mass of Life. 



THE MAN AND THE COMPOSER 191 

Refinement was a religion to Delius. I cannot recall 
a single instance of ever hearing him make a vulgar 
remark* He was as intolerant of bad manners as of 
ignorance. 

'My boy/ he used to say, *the greatest enemy you've 
got to fight in life is ignorance. You'll find it popping 
its ugly head up all over the place, and in pkces where 
you least expect to find it, Fm an old man now, and 
my whole life has been one long struggle against 
ignorance/ 

That was the man as I knew him y hard, stern, 
proud, cynical, godless, completely self-absorbed - 
the man Frederick Delius. 

Nothing could have so misrepresented the character 
of the man as the photographs which circulated 
through the Press during the latter years of his life, 
depicting him in the last and painful stages of a 
terrible affliction. It is a deplorable thing that these 
photographs were ever allowed to be published, for 
they have created in the public mind a legendary figure 
of the man which is as stupid as it is false. If, in this 
rough sketch of Delius, criticism be made by the few 
who knew him intimately that the drawing is a little 
hard, it must be conceded that the lm.es are true. If 
I have erred in this, I have erred in the right direction, 
for, though there was lovableness and a certain charin, 
the chief trait in my collected impression of the man is 
his severity. Such was the little I knew of Frederick 
Delius, a man of whom Nietzsche would have said, 
'Here is one of the great despisers/ 

What, then, of Delius the musician* and what of his 
attitude towards music ? 



192 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

Strictly speaking, his attitude towards music is best 
defined by saying that he had no attitude. Music, for 
him, to use his own words, was simply and solely the 
.means of expressing 'the imminent, unchanging 
realities of nature and humanity' as seen through the 
medium of his own individuality. The past, and the 
ideals and conventions of the past, whether they were 
of the classical order -the objective point of view- 
or the romantic order - the subjective point of view - 
occupied and interested him but little if at all. He was 
concerned in his own personal and particular way with 
the 'eternal present/ and that particular way he had 
not found by study, but by doing. No composer, 
with the possible exception of Verdi, was so unlearned. 

From the very beginning Delias seems to have gone 
his own leisurely way, working through his influences, 
not avoiding them, firmly convinced that it was fatal 
to have more than a nodding acquaintanceship with 
the music of others. His development was unusually 
slow. It will always be a wonder to me how he had 
the courage to go on during his long apprenticeship, 
writing work after work in which there is scarcely a 
trace of the Delius we know, and not a hint of potential 
greatness. 

At the same age at which Strauss had a Don Juan 
and Sibelius an En Saga to their respective credit, 
Delius was still plodding away at orchestral works 
which in their quiet moods plainly showed the in- 
fluence of Grieg, and in their more vigorous moods 
the spell that the second manly theme in Don Juan 
had cast over him - the magnificent theme that is 
first given out by the horns. Forty years later he still 



THE MAN AND THE COMPOSER 193 

revelled in that theme, and rarely missed an oppor- 
tunity of hearing the work* I never hear Don Juan 
without thinking of Delius, and of the humorous way 
in which he used to tilt his head at the pedal G in the 
violins in preparation for the entrance of his favourite. 
Then, and at each appearance of the theme, he would 
all but wag his head off to its rhythm ! 

Delius was obviously one of those artists who only 
come to a full realisation of their powers after pro- 
longed and unceasing application to their work, and 
that suddenly. It was not until he was thirty-seven 
that he produced a work that was greatly in advance 
of anything he had written hitherto, and which proved 
him a man to be reckoned with - his orchestral work 
Paris, the Song of a Great City. Yet, even so, Pans 
(1899) was not so completely advanced as to give the 
most discerning critic even the slightest suspicion of 
what was to follow in those six glorious years (1900-5) 
to which reference has already .been made, to say 
nothing of his last period. How he found himself so 
suddenly is a mystery. That it was the effect of some 
strange inner happening or revelation seems the onlv 
reasonable explanation one can supply. 

From now on he was sure of himsdf. He had never 
forced his work, but, guided first by his instinct and 
then by his intellect, had allowed his technique to 
grow unconsciously with his inspiration. He had 
laboured tinder one very severe handicap* Only 
twice during those difficult years of maturation had he 
heard the sound of his music on the orchestra, once 
at the age of twenty-six, and again when he was 
thirty-one. He had to wait until he was thirty-seven 



194 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

before he was able to profit to the utmost by such a 
necessary experience, and that on the occasion of the 
Delius concert at St. James's Hall, London, in 1899, 
which he gave at his own expense. He told me that 
after that concert he was so conscious of the faults of 
his music that he could not rest, but left London for 
Grez early the next morning, so eager was he to take 
up his sketches of Paris and apply the technical 
knowledge that he had just acquired. 

Had there been the same opportunities in his day 
as there are in ours for the young composer of talent 
to get a hearing, I doubt whether he would have 
found himself any the sooner. No matter how 
technically proficient a man may be, his inner develop- 
ment can never be hurried. If a man has something 
worth saying, he will manage to say it somehow, no 
matter how clumsily. It is having that something 
worth saying that is the important thing. *To be able 
to do something/ said Goethe, *you must be some- 
thing'; and, it seems to me, it was this suddenly 
'being something' that accounted for the sudden and 
instant flowering of Delius 's genius. 

He was not one of those artists who are given to 
talking a great deal about their art, let alone solemnly, 
as so many of them do, and days would pass with not 
a mention of music. Certainly nobody would have 
guessed from his general conversation that he was a 
great composer. But I do remember his saying during 
a conversation about Walt Whitman: *It was a long, 
long time before I understood exactly what I wanted 
to say, and then it came to me all at once*' 

I have never heard of any artist who was so 



THE MAN AND THE COMPOSER 195 

completely and utterly himself, so detached and aloof 
from the world of his art and so little interested in 
the work of any other artist, past or present. It was 
not easy to gather very much about his views on the 
music of the past, for I soon discovered that the 
"subject was unmentionable before him. Shortly 
after my first arrival in Grez, when there had been a 
relay of one of his works r I asked if we might keep the 
wireless on to hear a pianoforte concerto by Mozart, 
His reply was startling. 'You needn't ask me to 
listen to the music of the Immortals. I can't abide 
*em. I finished with them long ago P The only 
other remarks that I can remember are as follows: *It 
takes a genius to write a movement like the slow 
movement in Schumann's Piano Quintet in E Flat, 
but the third movement is entirely without inspira- 
tion'; and, whilst listening to the Scotch Symphony, 
he commented, 'How much better Mendelssohn uses 
the orchestra than Beethoven.' He was indignant 
when he found that I was fond of Berlioz, whom he 
described as a vulgarian, and surprised that Debussy 
left me cold. UApris Midi and PeUeas he loved, but 
detested the piano works. He had a glowing admira- 
tion for Bizet, whom he thought the greatest French 
composer, and he considered Verdi's Fakteff a 
masterpiece. Coming nearer our own time, he 
loathed Puccini, preferred the music of the Spaniards 
-Albeniz, Granados, and Da Falla-to that of the 
Russians - Borodin, Moussorgsky, and Rimsky- 
Korsakov - and enjoyed the records of Hebridean 
folk-songs from Mrs. Kennedy-Fraser's collection. 
What little interest he had ever had in the music of 



196 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

others a glance at his library will suffice to show. The 
only foil scores he possessed were Beethoven's 
Symphonies (many of the pages are still uncut), the 
Fatist Symphonie (Liszt), Tristan und Isolde (Wagner), 
Don faon. Til Eulenspiegel, Heldenleben, Zarathustra 
(Strauss), Rhapsodic Espagnole (Chabrier), La Mer 
(Debussy), Daphnis et Chloe (Ravel); and Busoni's 
Pianoforte Concerto. 

*It is a great mistake for young composers to study 
too much/ he used to say. Teople with a little talent 
nearly always kill it by too much learning. Learning 
kills instinct. It is just as dangerous as too much 
reflection/ 

Despite his total indifference to the work and aims of 
others, he was ever ready to lend an ear to any young 
artist who was still struggling with himself. No young 
Treplev could complain of him, 'He has read his own 
story, but he has not even cut mine/ Often, when I 
was at Grez, he would receive music from quite 
unknown people, and when I had played it over to 
him, if it showed promise, he would return it with his 
dictated comments and kindly words of encourage- 
ment. If it showed no promise, it was ignored. 

*You can't teach a young musician to compose/ I 
have heard him say, 'any more than you can teach a 
delicate plant how to grow, but you can guide him a 
little by putting a stick in here and a stick in there. 
Composition as taught in our academies is a farce. 
Where are the composers they produce ? Those who 
do manage to survive this systematic and idiotic 
teaching either write all alike, so that you can say that 
this lot belongs to this institution, this lot to that, or 



THE MAN AND THE COMPOSER 197 

they give us the flat beer of their teachers, but* watered 
down. In all probability those who are most aware of 
this depressing state of things are the teachers them- 
selves. How can music ever be a mere intellectual 
speculation or a series of curious combinations of 
sound that can be classified like the articles in a 
grocer's shop ? Music is an outburst of the soul. It 
is addressed and should appeal instantly to the soul 
of the listener. It is not experimental analysis like 
chemistry. Never believe the saying that one must 
hear music many times to appreciate it. It is utter 
nonsense; the last resort of the incompetent. And 
another thing : the amateur musician is better without 
a knowledge of the science of music. When you see 
a lovely rose you treasure it as it is ; you don't pull it to 
pieces to appreciate its beauty and find out where its 
delicious perfume comes from. So it should be with 
music/ 

Here, waving aside the question of whether he was 
right or wrong, I will add, for what it is worth, that 
he always insisted that I should have been of no use 
whatever to him as an amanuensis had I not been 
practically self-taught* 

Music, he thought, should be a simple and intimate 
thing, direct and immediate in its appeal from soul to 
soul, a thing of instinct rather than of learning, of the 
heart rather than of the head. It should never be 
complicated, or, in other words, the intellect should 
keep its proper place, for with complication music 
lost its power to move. One should never be con- 
scious of its workings, or of how it was put together, 
otherwise how could it transport ? Some composers 



198 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

seemed to think that music was a means of displaying 
their ingenuity. Such an attitude was altogether 
unworthy of music. To be purely cerebral was easy. 
To be truly and genuinely emotional was hard. One 
should always feel rather than invent, and feel deeply, 
and never think out the detail of one's score. Much 
of the detail of modern music existed on paper alone, 
and could not be heard in performance. Even 
Strauss was not exempt from this failing. 

The score of A Village Romeo and Juliet is a 
model of this effortless assembly of detail with the 
utmost economy of notes. The decorative detail, 
like the form, is not applied from the outside, 
but grows inevitably from the inside as the music 
proceeds. 

Much as he resented adverse criticism of his work, 
Delius was entirely unmoved by it. It was his habit 
to have the various Press notices read aloud to him, 
and the unsympathetic criticism contained therein 
was almost always directed, not against the content of 
his music, as one might reasonably have expected 
from certain minds, but against what was called its 
'lack of form/ 

It has always been my opinion that Delius had a 
well-nigh perfect sense of form for what he had to say. 
In his mature works he said things as lucidly and 
expressively as he could. There is no 'passage-work/ 
no c working-out/ no meaningless repetition, and in 
the sustained intensity of the rhapsodic flow of his 
music the decorative detail is caught up and trans- 
formed into the framework of his own particular sense 
of architectural design. I cannot see how he could 



THE MAN AND THE COMPOSER 199 

have said what he had to say in any other way than 
the way he chose, 

It is true that here and there he would have given 
more point to his charming discourse had he tightened 
up the form. The first instance that comes to mind is 
the slow movement of his Sonata for Violin and Piano 
No. i, which actually ends several bars before the 
composer brings it to a close. Here, as in most 
instances, his sweet meandering is due not so much 
to his lack of proportion, but simply because he could 
not tear himself away from the loveliness that he had 
created. 

Music has never been oppressed with loveliness, 
least of all in our time. It is ungrateful to complain 
of a surfeit of it in the work of one man. 

Still, the fact remains that, although he sometimes 
nodded (he is in distinguished company here, for the 
very greatest have nodded at times), he had a much 
finer sense of form than his critics maintain. He is 
never formal, as even Mozart is sometimes formal, nor 
does he provoke one, as Elgar sometimes does, by his 
anxiety to keep the music going whilst he gets back 
somehow to that other theme that he has at the back 
of his mind. No matter what the method, a sustained 
intensity of thought is the aim of every composer. 
Delius's was that most dangerous and difficult 
method, the rhapsodic flight. The slightest failure of 
inspiration and down the machine came. 

The remarks of his critics often gave him con- 
siderable amusement. 'Did you hear Beecham's 
magnificent performance of Eventyr ? * he asked in a 
letter to me dictated to his wife. 'Jelka read a silly 



200 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

and superficial notice by one critic who said he was 
tired of counting the anti-climaxes in the work ! Fancy 
talking about climaxes and anti-climaxes in a work like 
Eventyr, a ballad based upon Norwegian peasants' 
fairy-tales ! The fellow still seems to have Beethoven's 
Symphonies as his point de depart, showing great lack 
of imagination*' 

Once, after having read a particularly absurd 
criticism, he said, 'It is fatal wifti most of the critics if 
a composer .has found it necessary to reject German 
forms and refuse to mould his thought into stand- 
ardised patterns. One can't define form in so many 
words, but if I was asked I should say that it was 
nothing more than imparting spiritual unity to one's 
thought. It is contained in the thought itself, not 
applied as something that already exists, Look at 
Walt Whitman. Whitman spent his whole life 
writing Leaves of Grass. It is his individual contribu- 
tion to art. Nobody else could have written it. So 
with my own work.* 

Delius had no preliminaries in conversation, but 
always went straight to the heart of the matter. So 
it was with his music. Despite its 'wanderings as in 
dreams,' it is, at its best, and within the orbit of its 
own world, as direct and concentrated as is the music 
of Sibelius within the play of its own world. Review- 
ing his life's work, one can only wonder at the extra- 
ordinary richness of his imagination, and the aston- 
ishingly wide range of thought that world contained. 
It is a far cry from the romantic exuberances of Paris 
to the fantastic frolickings of Eventyr, from the song 
of a lover in the Mass of Life to the song of a lover in 



THE MAN AND THE COMPOSER 2OI 

Songs of Sunset, from the honeyed intimacies of the 
chorus in Appalachta to the sexless, impersonal voices 
in the wordless chorus in the Song of the High Hills > 
from the rich mellowness of In a Summer Garden to 
the comparative bareness and bleakness of the North 
Country Sketches, from the heartrending poignancies 
of Sea-drift to the exotic extravagancies of Hassan. 
How he managed to ring so many changes on the 
circumscribed musical stuff of his thought is evidence 
of the truth that it is only genius that matters. 

It has always struck me as odd that with the in- 
numerable evidences to be found in his music of a 
highly developed and extremely subtle feeling for 
sounds at work the slow movement of the double 
concerto and several 'pictures' in the opera Femwnare 
and Gerda are miracles of loveliness when played with 
understanding, if we have ears to hear Delius had 
no feeling whatever for the music of words. I stress 
the word feeling, for, as far as he was concerned, 
music was little more than the habit of feeling logi- 
cally in sounds. It would hardly be an exaggeration 
to say that life for him was entirely a matter of feeling, 
for, as I have remarked, he was Contemptuous of 
learning, and completely anti-metaphysical. Never 
once did I hear him say that this composer had an 
excellent melodic gift, or that composer a beautiful 
sense of design; it was always a reluctant admittance 
that *Yes, that song shows fine feeling,' or, 'That 
passage is good. What beautiful feeling !* . 

Fine feeling had to mean precisely what he felt by 
fine feeling, and fine feeling meant vital harmony. 
He was entirely incapable of feeling a thing from 

o 



202 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

anybody else's point of view, only from his own. The 
fine feeling exemplified in the tender delicacy of that 
gem of a slow movement of Mozart's Symphony No. 
34 in C was abhorrent to him; the fine feeling such as 
we find in the strong, heavy brooding in the slow 
movement of Sibelius's String Quartet -the Beet- 
hovenish quality - he loathed. Nor was he moved by a 
fine melody that ran along easily and effortlessly, now 
quickening impulsively here, now relaxing in repose 
there, with but a bare understatement of its implied 
harmony in the basses and occasional interpolations 
from the middle voices. That sort of music-making he 
hated. For him, the power to stir, or be stirred, was 
always measured by the harmonic intensity of a work* 
In setting words, however, it must not be imagined 
that he was careless. I have heard him declaim a 
phrase over and over again -but always, oh, so 
clumsily ! - before finding the music for it. It will, 
no doubt, astonish the many who, like myself, must 
often have flinched before his mutilations of English 
to hear that he used to say, *I am always at my best 
when there are words/ That he probed to the heart 
of whatever poem he was setting is beyond the shadow 
of a doubt, but I am equally certain that he had no 
notion of how badly he declaimed English. Of his 
settings in German and Norwegian I am not com- 
petent to judge, but, with English, the words are 
almost like an unnecessary commentary on the mood 
which the composer has drawn up from the depths of 
their meaning. The melodic accent he imposes on 
them is wholly at variance with their verbal accent. 
One can more readily forgive this in a composer who 



THE MAN AND THE COMPOSER 203 

is unwilling to sacrifice the shape and spacing of the 
beautiful melody that he has been at such pains to 
perfect to the shape and spacing of the words that he 
has been given to set. In the case of Delius it was 
unforgivable, for it would have been just as easy for 
him to spread the words out comfortably and accur- 
ately over the rich texture of sound they had inspired 
in him as to perpetrate the verbal absurdities of an 
otherwise lovely work like Songs of Sunset. 

I often gathered from his remarks, whilst listening 
to music with him, that he regarded voices in the 
nature of a necessary encumbrance. There were 
certain works in which one could not very well do 
without them, yet they were a nuisance all the same. 
Often, during relays of his choral works in which one 
guessed that the microphone had been placed in 
such a position as to give undue prominence to the 
voices, he would say, 'Can't you get the Orchester any 
louder ?' (He always used the German form of the 
word.) *It doesn't matter so much about my hearing 
the singers. The Orckester - the Orchester is the chief 
thing I want to hear.* It was the same in listening to 
Wagner. 'Never mind so much about the singers, or 
even what they are singing about; the narrative is in 
the Orchester.* 

What he did understand in writing for voices was 
the colour of choral sound, and the peculiar emphasis 
and choice of voice a particular line needed if it was 
to tell effectively in the harmonic texture. He used 
to relate with great amusement how, at the early 
rehearsals for the first performance of Sea-drift, at 
the Tonkunstierfest in Essen in 1906, they thought the 



204 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

chorus parts unnecessarily difficult, whereupon one 
bright fellow decided to rewrite several passages, 
distributing the parts in such a way as to facilitate 
their execution, yet preserving the actual harmony. 
After a great deal of manipulation he finished the job, 
convinced that he had done the composer a noble 
service. Copies were made of the new part-writing, 
and a few crack singers from the chorus chosen to 
sing the improved version, so that the indignant 
composer might be shown the error of his ways. 
*When they had finished singing/ said Delius, *I told 
my good friend that he could just alter it all back 
again; that I would have none of it ! He had taken 
all the character out of my music. The outcome of it 
all was that he apologised, and said that it had been a 
shocking eye-opener to him. He would never have 
believed that such music could have sounded so 
different when the part-writing had been altered. 
When he heard the total effect of the chorus with the 
orchestra at the last rehearsals - and how thoroughly 
they used to rehearse in Germany in those days ! - he 
was more surprised than ever, and heard for himself 
that the chorus parts had to sound exactly as I had 
distributed them/ 

The root of his insensibility to the music of words 
was, I think, a certain lack of literary taste. A man's 
library is usually a fair criterion of his mind, but, 
apart from the dozen or so books that had been given 
him at various times by Heseltine, whose taste was, 
of course, impeccable, there remained very few that 
one would have associated with a mind of Delius's 
quality and stature. 



THE MAN AND THE COMPOSER 205 

During the six years that I knew him I never re- 
member his reading anything in English other than 
autobiographies, both political and artistic, detective 
stories, and any yarn, no matter what it was, that told 
about the sea. So long as it was colourful, and the 
action moved quickly, he was content* He had no 
patience with a writer like Conrad, who took his time 
in the telling of a story. Of English verse he knew 
surprisingly little, and never once during my stay at 
Grez did he ever ask us to read a line of it to him. 
Several times I fancied that it would be an agreeable 
change from our normal routine of book-reading, but 
he always turned my suggestion down. 

From 1895 onwards, with the exception of the text 
of the Mass of Life, which was selected from Thus 
Spake Zaratkustra by Fritz Cassirer and the composer 
during a holiday together in Brittany, the composer's 
wife chose almost every word that he set* Whenever 
she came upon a poem that matched the mood of that 
sad longing which she had first sensed in his im- 
provisation, she copied it out and left it on his desk. 
Sometimes, she told me, the music he played was so 
poignant that she thought her heart would break. 
The granddaughter of Moscheles, she had been 
brought up from her earliest years in an atmosphere 
of music and culture. She had heard a great deal of 
extemporisation in her youth, but none that bore the 
slightest resemblance to that of Delius, either in 
mood or manner. Whereas everyone else improvised 
on easily recognisable themes, with Delius there were 
no themes, just chords. When the mood to extem- 
porise was on him, he always followed the same 



Zo6 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

procedure. He would start very quietly and dreamily, 
moving along slowly and, for the most part, chro- 
matically in a rhapsodic procession of chords from one 
leisurely climax to another, until the music culminated 
in a tremendous outburst; then, with many tender 
dallyings by the way, it would end as peacefully as it 
had begun* 

Delius, according to his wife, was a very bad pianist, 
playing his own music shockingly. His slender, 
tapering fingers were too long to play even the 
simplest runs cleanly. His limited technique had 
been a severe handicap to him all along, for he was 
never able to play his works from his scores when he 
showed them to various publishers. Yet, when he 
improvised, it was as if other hands were fingering the 
keys. Such improvisation, she said, was, in its way, 
quite as impressive as the more florid outpourings of 
the accomplished technician; to her ears it was 
certainly more musical. 

It would have been interesting to have heard 
Delius improvise, for then it would have shown to 
what extent his improvisation had influenced his 
composition. He composed every note of his work 
at the piano (with the exception of the opening to the 
Sang of Summer), and there is no doubt in my mind 
that his limited keyboard technique was largely 
responsible for the occasional mechanical chromatic 
slidings of his harmony, the oft-restricted movement 
of his part-writing, the frequent lack of fitness in his 
writing for strings, and the unrelieved, plodding 
crotchet movement of much of his music. 

Although his music is instantly recognisable, it 



THE MAN AND THE COMPOSER 207 

has no style - style as it is generally understood in tlie 
sense of precision and ease of manner, trimness, 
aristocratic movement, and grace of gesture held to 
the point of perfect control. Such style is the pre- 
rogative of those artists who attempted none but the 
shorter and safer flights. It would be as absurd as it 
would be unreasonable to expect such a sense of style 
in the rhapsodic broodings of a Delius as in the 
rhapsodic violences of a Beethoven. Style rarely 
clothes the intelligence of a weighty mind. 

No music is more difficult to interpret convincingly, 
or requires more rehearsal, than the music of Delius, 
and no music sounds duller when it is badly played. 
Consummate artistry and skill are needed to hold that 
simple texture together and give it life. Delius is 
like that delightful member of the team who goes in 
to bat fairly well down the list, and requires a great 
deal of fuss and attention. One must fasten his pads 
for him, help him into his batting-gloves, adjust his 
cap, and sometimes even ran for him, but, somehow, 
it is worth it; he always manages to score. Some of 
his shots may be flukes, and, where a crack batsman 
would play a defensive stroke to a ball pitched well 
up on his middle stump, Delius, serene and unruffled, 
with a mixture of bat, pad, and glove will steer the 
same pitched ball dangerously through the slips for a 
boundary, then fall to a silly catch from a ball that 
he should have hit out of the field. And the amazing 
thing about it all is that it never once occurs to him 
that his escapades might give the others some anxiety, 
or that he takes more looking after than the rest of the 
team put together. 



208 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

This music has a way with it all its own, and, unless 
that way is grasped instinctively and immediately, 
conductor, player, and singer alike might just as well 
shut up their Delius scores and give them away. The 
music of Delius is not an acquired taste. One either 
likes it the moment one first hears it, or the sound 
of it is once and for ever distasteful to one. It is an 
art which will never enjoy an appeal to the many, but 
one which will always be loved, and dearly loved, by 
the few. 

I am at a peculiar disadvantage in being unable to 
say anything of consequence regarding the so-called 
English characteristics of the work of Delius. I can 
only speak of his music in relation to my own limited 
experience. A penetrating thinker like Cecil Gray has 
proved conclusively on paper that 'nothing could be 
more unmistakably English than such things as the 
Dance Rhapsody No. i or In a Summer Garden, or 
the two lovely pieces for small orchestra - in spite of 
the fact that the first of these two latter happens, quite 
irrelevantly, to be based on a Norwegian folk-song. 
How magically, too, do the first few pages of Brigg 
Fair evoke the atmosphere of an early summer morn- 
ing in the English country, with its suggestion of a 
faint mist veiling the horizon, and the fragrant scent 
of the dawn in the air P 

Yet I cannot understand why it is that when I walk 
about the countryside of England I seldom, if ever, 
find myself humming anything of Delius, but always 
some exquisite passage from Elgar; either something 
from the 'Cello Concerto, the Introduction and 
Allegro for Strings, the String Quartet, the lovely 



THE MAN AND THE COMPOSER 209 

interludes in Faktaff, the 'W. N.' variation, or the 
opening theme of the last movement of the Second 
Symphony. 

When I am in France, and taking the same walks 
that Delius had taken for over thirty years, the walks 
on which he thought of nothing else but music, which, 
he told me, was ripening in his mind as the years 
went on, it is impossible for me to get that music of 
Delius out of my mind. I am singing it all the while. 
The gardens at Grez on a summer day, the river, the 
woods, that stretch of meadow opposite his house, 
that unforgettably beautiful walk on to Montigny, 
the mellow countryside round Villiers and Recloses, 
the rich brown soil, the indescribable feelings such 
as I have only felt at sunset up there on the road over 
to Marlotte - here, for me, was the source of his 
inspiration, not England. Even the wizardry of Sir 
Thomas Beecham cannot make me 'hear' England 
in this music, but transports me to the countryside 
round Grez. All the time I was at Grez I never 
thought of Elgar's music unless I was homesick. 

I have not the learning to trace the artistic lineage 
of Delius, even if it were desirable in a book of this 
kind. It would require several years of profound 
study, an undertaking which very few young men can 
afford. It is all very well to point out that in such- 
and-such a work there is a suggestion of Grieg in the 
turn of a modulation, or Chopin in the shape of the 
melodic line, or Wagner in the sense of flow. These 
things are but the bait of the problem, ever ready to 
catch the unwary. Perhaps, in a more leisurely age, 
scholars will be able to show just how far an artist 



210 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

had been influenced by the work of others, and just 
how far similarities of expression are the workings of 
an unconscious affinity of mind. In all probability, 
in the case of Delius, such enlightened eyes may see 
no further than mine - that as Delius he began and 
as Delius he ended* 

Whatever one's personal reaction to his music may 
be, no one can fail to admire his artistic integrity, 
which remained inviolate from first to last. In a 
short article written for a Polish paper some months 
before I first went to Grez, he had written, 'There is 
evidently something wrong with musicians who can 
suddenly change their entire outlook and experiment 
in atonal ugliness. Is the present tendency perhaps 
due to lack of imagination, a lack of emotion ? Is it 
perhaps the outcome of our hasty mode of life, or a 
striving after publicity, arrivism, sensationalism, or 
self-advertisement ? Is it an equivalent of cubism or 
futurism which seems to have already gone out of 
fashion ? It is difficult to tell. But I feel certain that 
no outward influences, no set principles or theories, 
can give birth to beautiful music/ 

c No outward influences, no set principles or 
theories* - these words epitomise the man and the 
musician. 

He would have agreed whole-heartedly with Verdi 
(that other born fighter, who, like himself, always 
went his own way) when he wrote, 'I believe in 
inspiration; you in workmanship. I admit your 
criterion as a basis for discussion, but I want art in 
all its manifestations - not amusement, artifice, 
system, which is what you prefer. Am I right ? Am 



THE MAN AND THE COMPOSER 211 

I wrong ? * . . My backbone is not supple enough for 
me to yield and deny convictions which are so deeply 
rooted. If artists could understand the meaning of 
truth, there would be no longer music of the past and 
music of the future, realistic and idealistic painters, 
classical and romantic poetry -but 'true poetry, true 
paintings, true music/ 

To write true music a man must be that rare thing, 
a true artist. No artist of any age was more worthy 
of that epithet than Frederick Delius. Despite his 
negative and somewhat depressing outlook on life, 
the best of what he was still lives for our delight. So 
long as the noble art of music is held in reverence, so 
long will his music be played. His was true music, 
the glory of a great and imperishable name. 



PART FOUR 
THE SUNDOWN 



TTT may be remembered that I had left Grez in the 
I summer of 1933 on the understanding that they 

were to send for me if need be, and I knew that, 
when that time came, it would be for no musical 
thing that I should be needed, but for something of 
greater moment, and the dread of that something - 
whatever it might be -was never far from me. Ihad 
often wondered how it would all end; whether Delius 
would outlive his wife, or whether she would suddenly 
break down under the strain of that constant watching 
and anxiety. 

Delius had listened-in' to the first performance of 
the Fantastic Dance on January i2th (1934) under 
Dr. Adrian Boult. The weather conditions were not 
very favourable, but Fred was very pleased, and said 
that, as far as he could judge, it was a good perform- 
ance/ was the verdict. 

Later that month there came a letter which read : 



Tred has been very unwell for nearly a week and 
has given me great anxiety. ... I phoned at once 
to D n p - in Paris and he said that if there was no 
fever or pain it was not immediately dangerous. But 
Fred's an was so anxious, and I as well, that we got 
the Nemours doctor to come. He put Fred on a very 
severe diet, and we had to keep him in his bed (oh 1 



2l6 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

the difficulty), cook ail his food without salt, no 
exciting drinks, no fish or fowl, no milk, etc. You 
who know Fred will understand all that I was up 
against/ 

Shortly afterwards I received another letter as 
follows: 

'I have been so often to Fontainebleau for medicine, 
food, analysis at the hospital, that with all the reading 
I have to do now that Peggy has gone I really have 
not the time to write. But now Fred is much better, 
and I told the doctor I could not go on with that diet 
as Fred simply ate nothing, so we are normal again 
and he had cider for his lunch yesterday. 

'Did you hear Beecham's concert ? We heard it 
remarkably well. I had even called on the people 
who have motors that afternoon, and got them so 
interested and willing that the baker baked his whole 

bread without electricity, that the B s and C s 

pumped by hand to feed all their animals, and the 
butcher lady also turned off her motor. It showed 
plainly that most of these disturbances come from 
these wretched motors. Eventyr, Fred thought, was 
quite amazing; he had never heard it like that before. 
He was immensely pleased with Songs of Sunset, the 
suavity of the whole, Beecham's exquisite handling of 
the orchestra, and the fine singing of Olga Haley. 
He also thought The Walk to the Paradise Garden 
was glorious, stronger and more passionate than on 
our recording. I was happy to see Fred nodding so 
elatedly his head to the music/ 



THE SUNDOWN 217 

Another letter dated March 12th read: 

"Fred is all right. We read more than ever. To-day 
we are to eat roast pork with the fat and crisp skin 
left on. I brought it from Fontainebleau and Fred 
is quite excited about it. There have been negotia- 
tions about it for three weeks* Fred takes great 
interest in his food now, and I think that is a good 
sign, although his forethought and imagination are 
always much bigger than his actual appetite/ 

At the beginning of April I was alarmed to hear 
rumours that Delius was gravely ill. I wrote to Mrs. 
Delius at once. She answered immediately: 

'84.34. 

*MY DEAR ERIC, - No, Fred is not seriously ill, but 
we must be most careful. . . . The worst is that 
he is troubled with the most dreadful shooting-pains 
that return every day at the same hour (5 p.m.) and 
persist through the whole night if he does not take a 
calming medicine, which he generally does. But, of 
course, all that makes him feel weak and fatigued in 
the morning. 

*We have had several visitors, and, as Fred has been 
unable to see them, you will understand how these 
rumours arose. There is no actual necessity for you 
to come, but it would be delightful and an unspeakable 
help to me. Why not come for a month ? It would 
take Fred out of his groove, to talk music once more. 
I asked him, and he said spontaneously, "Oh, I 
always love having Eric here 1" . . / 

It was not possible for me to leave there and then, 

p 



2I DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

so I decided to pay them a visit in May. A week 
before the day on which I had arranged to leave there 
came a letter containing the usual list of things that 
Delius fancied. Two days later, on returning home 
from an evening walk, a telegram awaited me. Its 
contents staggered me ; c When are you coming ? Am 
operated on to-morrow Clinique St. Joseph, Foritaine- 
bleau. Jelka. May iTth, 1934*' 

I weighed the matter in my mind and saw that 
nothing would be gained if I set out that night. I 
would 'wait till morning, when possibly there would 
be a letter. It came: 

'16.5.34. 

'DEAREST ERIC, - 1 am afraid I am very ill; I have 
gone on till I could not any more. They are going to 
fetch me this evening and operate on me in a dimque 
in Fontainebleau. Please, Eric, be an angel and come 
here as quick as you can and stay with Fred and keep 
him company. I hope when they will allow it you 
wiU come to see me, but Fred is the principal thing. 
I cannot write any more, but please, dear, do not 
fail us. 

'Yours affectionately, 

'JELKA DELIUS.' 

By the same post there came another letter from a 
neighbour urging me to come at once and take charge 
of the household, for the chances were that Mrs. 
Delius would never survive the operation, so critical 
was her condition, and that should she come out of the 
hospital alive, she would be an invalid for the rest of 
her days. 



THE SUNDOWN 219 

All the way on that hurried journey to Grez my 
mind was full of awful possibilities. Would I reach 
Fontainebleau before she died? And, should she 
die, how should I manage with Ddius alone ? Would 
it mean the complete sacrifice of all my youthful 
years ? I should have to stay with him to the end. 

Little did I realise that I was being summoned to 
the death-bed of my friend, and that his wife was to 
outlive him by a year. 

It seemed strange that of all my returns to Grez this 
day should be the most beautiful. Great white oxen 
tramped leisurely across the fields, dragging the 
enormous, top-heavy, two-wheeled carts that the 
French use, and here and there little groups of men, 
brown with the hot sun, rested under the fruit-trees, 
now in full blossom, eating their bread and cheese 
and drinking red wine from their bottles, whilst others 
in wide-brimmed straw hats" bent their backs in the 
asparagus fields. My mind was not in tune with 
these good things of the earth, and I paid little heed 
to them. 

I entered the house and went straightway to Delius's 
room. As he heard me mounting the staircase he 
called out, 'Eric, Eric, is that you ? Eric !* 

'Here I am, Delius ! 5 I shouted. 

c Oh, lad, it's good to have you back; where are you ? 
Come here, come here P he cried. 

I went over to the bed and took the delicate hand he 
offered me and kissed his brow, for he was weeping 
like a child. As I stood there beside him I could 
scarcely believe my eyes. I had never seen him look 
like that before. He was much thinner, and but the 



220 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

shadow of that relic of a man I had known for these 
six years. 

'What a catastrophe this is P said he, 'Jelka so ill, 
and here am I left alone/ 

He then went on to tell one how he had come to 
detest his male nurse because of his roughness and 
uncouthness; that he wanted me to share his room so 
that he could have me by him all the time. I muttered 
something about Yorkshiremen always pulling 
through, and that all would be well. Now that I 
was there, he seemed contented though weary, and 
was not disposed to talk even of his wife's illness. 
Would I read to him ? 

'Let's read Huckleberry Finn again !' said he. ... 

After about an hour of this the German nurse came 
in, bowed very gravely, as I continued to read, and, 
glancing at his watch and then at me, took up his 
German translation of an Edgar Wallace thriller, and 
began to read in a loud voice that startled the old man 
and drowned my efforts completely. 

Realising that Mark Twain was no match for Edgar 
Wallace, I threw my book down, and, whispering to 
Delius that I would be back soon, rushed round by 
the church to see Mrs. Brooks, to find out exactly 
what had happened. The operation, she told me, had 
been successful. I might go and see Mrs. Delius in 
the morning. That was reassuring. 

That night after supper I went up to Delius 's room, 
determined to rouse him. 'Come, Delius/ said I, 
'let's have some music on the gramophone/ 

"Very well/ he replied, 'play me In a Summer 
Garden' 



THE SUNDOWN 221 

I went downstairs and, turning the great horn of 
his E.M.G. gramophone towards the staircase, put on 
Geoffrey Toye's record. 

That was the last music he heard. 

He now seemed brighter, and we talked about 
music. Had I seen Beecham lately ? I told him that 
I had, and about the magnificent performance of 
Paris that I had heard him give only a few weeks 
before at Queen's Hall. The old man was delighted, 
and said how he longed to hear the records of Paris 
and Eventyr that Sir Thomas was then making for 
the Delius Society. 

*I have only one wish as far as my best music is 
concerned/ said he. 1 want Thomas to record it all.' 

Delius, apparently, had no idea of the gravity of his 
wife's illness, and appeared to think that it was quite 
a minor operation, from which she would recover and 
be home again shortly to resume her normal duties. 
After every visit I made to Fontainebleau to see her 
it was always the same question he asked: Isn't she 
coming back to-morrow ?* 

With the days my difficulties increased. Backwards 
and forwards I went, keeping his condition from her, 
and hers from him, until at the end of a fortnight, the 
worry, suspense, and responsibility became more than 
flesh and blood could bear. The pyrethane which 
they gave Delius to ease the pain upset him so that he 
could not retain his food, and he was gradually grow- 
ing weaker and weaker and could not sleep, even 
during the reading. I was now reading nine hours a 
day and the greater part of the night. Unless one 
read to occupy his mind he seemed to be in constant 



222 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

pain. Nor could he rest in any one position for long 
without my having to move Wm> or lift him up to take 
the folds out of his pyjaina-jacket, which continually 
hurt his back. One could.have done with an army of 
nurses, except that he would have dismissed the lot. 
He would now only tolerate his nurse at the most 
necessary times. 

I begged Sir Thomas to send us the test records of 
Paris. Word came that they were already on the way, 
so we lived for the moment we should hear them. 
Sad to say, they were held up in the French Customs 
at Calais, and, though we wrote letters and sent tele- 
grams explaining that they wete not for sale, they were 
not released until after Delius's death. 

After discussing the situation thoroughly with the 
Nemours doctor, and slightly with Mrs. Delius, who 
was now out of danger and making a splendid recovery, 
it was decided to invite the doctor's colleague, a very 
celebrated man who had lately come to Fontainebleau, 
to give his opinion on Delius. This, however, could 
itot be done without a good deal of tact, for Delius 
would not have submitted to an examination without 
the approval of his wife, on whom he relied for most 
things to an amazing degree. Again, it was important 
not to alarm such a sensitive intelligence as his. To 
the credit of the two doctors and of Mrs. Delius, I am 
confident that he thought that this rekpse was but of 
temporary duration. He would recover when she 
returned. Formerly I left the room on such occasions, 
but this time, when the doctors arrived, Delius said, 
'Don't leave me, lad. 3 They stayed about ten minutes, 
and, as they glanced at one another, I read in their 



THE SUNDOWN 223 

looks that impersonal despair that doctors assume 
when things look b$d. Delius remained passive and 
collected, answering thek questions firmly, but when 
they asked him about his sight he flared up in bitter 
resentment. They then went downstairs, and re- 
mained in consultation for over half an hour, when 
they returned and announced the course of treatment 
they had prescribed. Taking me aside, the Fontaine- 
bleau doctor told me that at the very most Delius 
could not possibly live for more than three months. 
I lost no time, but immediately acquainted Sir 
Thomas Beecham and Balfour Gardiner with what 
had happened, and, as the latter was proposing to 
visit Grez in July, I suggested that it would be a 
tremendous help to me in this crisis if he could come 
at once. This he most generously agreed to do, and, 
waving everything aside, hurried to Grez. 

Meanwhile Delius iad rallied considerably under 
the new treatment, and by the time his friend arrived 
was greatly improved. Unfortunately, Balfour Gar- 
diner could not stay for more than two days, but was 
kind enough to promise that in the event of a further 
relapse he would return* The companionship, under- 
standing, and advice which he gave me during those 
days made it possible for me to go on alone. 

Shortly after Balfour Gardiner's departure Delius 
became less well, but there was not the slightest 
indication that death was imminent. We had come 
to that part of Mark Twain's Roughing It which tells of 
the adventures of the unmanageable Mexican horse, 
and the old man had laughed and joked about it. 
But I noticed that, as I continued, he became less and 



224 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

less interested, and appeared to be sinking slowly into 
a coma. I summoned the doctor immediately. (One 
of the precautions that Delius had taken to preserve 
his privacy - his refusal to install a telephone - now 
became a serious handicap* The only means of 
communication in the night with the doctor in 
Nemours was the cook's husband, on his capricious 
motor-cycle. Having knocked this good fellow up - 
he was always willing to be of service - 1 would pace 
Delius's bedroom, waiting and listening anxiously, 
helpless to relieve him. Then, after an interminable 
time, there would come a roaring and sputtering noise 
up the street. It would grow louder and louder. 
*Ah, they're here P I would say to myself, and rush 
quietly downstairs to admit them. But the sounds 
would grow fainter and fainter. He was just starting 
off!) 

The doctor came with his morphia syringe and soon 
there was calm, but when the effects of the drug had 
worn off, Delius became restless again and asked me 
to read. This I did until eight o'clock the following 
morning, when the doctor returned. There yet 
remained one chance of reviving him, said he. He 
would bring Mrs. Delius back from the hospital that 
morning. By mid-day she was sitting by him, in a 
wheeled chair, and I left them alone. It was obvious 
that Delius was sinking rapidly; that he had not the 
strength to talk. All he wanted was the soothing 
drone of a voice to which he need make no response. 
It must not stop ; it must go on, and on, and on. 

I wired to Sir Thomas Beecham, Balfour Gardiner, 
and Ernest Newman, informing them that Delius 



THE SUNDOWN 225 

was gravely ill. Through the help of Alden Brooks 
and his* wife, whose kindness and thoughtfulness 
during this dreadful time were unlimited, an excellent 
nurse was quickly found in Nemours for Mrs. Delius. 
The house inside now resembled a miniature hospital. 
Each time he came to, Delius was in agony. The 
doctor was now coming every four hours. Towards 
evening on that day, Friday, June 8th, he was easier, 
and his wife was brought in to see him. 'Jelka, I'm 
glad P he muttered when told that she was there, and 
smiled faintly. Later that day his suffering was so 
intense that his features became distorted, and it was 
as much as his nurse and I could do to prevent him 
from falling out of bed. Finally, after a night the 
unspeakable horror of which I shall never forget, 
the doctor paid his second visit in the early hours of 
the morning with his morphia syringe, and from six 
o'clock that Saturday morning Delius was as if in a 
sound and noisy sleep. All day long he lay there, his 
mouth wide open, and his stertorous breathing could 
be heard down below in the garden. The village 
clock struck twelve. It was midnight. Still there was 
no change. But for the heavy action of his breathing 
he had not moved for eighteen hours. 

They had persuaded me to take some rest, and I 
had gone reluctantly and flung myself on a couch, 
telling them to wake me should he stir. At four 
o'clock that Sunday morning they roused me. 'Sir, 
he is moving again P I rushed into his bedroom; the 
nurse said that it would soon be over. The others 
said, 'Speak to him.' I knew it was hopeless, but I 
bent over him and called, 'Delius, Delius, this is Eric P 



Z26 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

I had not seen Death before, and it had always been 
linked in my mind with doctor, priest, and tears, but 
when it came none of these attendants was present. 
Within five minutes he was as if dead, but when I 
undid his pyjama-jacket the heart was still flickering. 
I took his cold hand and felt it grow colder in mine. 
It was the end. 

I went through into Mrs. Delius's room. The 
agonising gaze of that sick woman was unforgettable, 
as she gradually lifted herself up on her side to 
look at me. 'My dear/ I said, 'be brave. Delius is 
dead 1* 

She did not speak or cry, but sank bads: on her 
pillows momentarily dazed. By this time the doctor 
had arrived, and, after examining that human wreckage 
on the bed, he turned to me and said, c Oui, Monsieur, 
il est mort P He was to lie in the music-room. Mrs. 
Delius begged to be brought in to see him, so we 
carried her through in her little chair. She explained 
exactly how she wanted him to lie, and ordered 
Madame Grespier to go out into the garden and pluck 
roses. Soon she was back with a basketful, and we 
strewed them round him and left him there. It was 
now almost half past five and getting light, and, when 
I had thanked the doctor and seen him out, I went 
back to the ghostly silence of the music-room, and, 
kneeling beside the body of this strange and unusual 
man who had been almost a father to me since the 
day I had come as a raw youth to help him, I prayed 
that God would forgive us our sins and receive his 
soul. 

After breakfast I sent telegrams to Sir Thomas 



THE SUNDOWN 22J 

Beecham and Balfour Gardiner informing them of the 
composer's death, and Mrs. Delius, Brooks, and I 
then discussed the question of his burial. 

It had long been DeUus's wish to be buried in the 
garden of his house, but, as this was not possible, he 
had said that he would like to rest in a country church- 
yard somewhere in the South of England, for there 
the churchyards had always reminded him of those 
he had loved up in Norway, Yorkshire was too bleak 
and too far away from London, for there would be 
some who would wish to visit his grave and he would 
like them to place wild flowers on it. I remember 
how, having heard him say all this, I thought it so 
strange that this man who believed in the souPs 
extinction at death should have given so much thought 
- indeed, any thought at all - as to where they should 
bury his bones* 

It was decided to make arrangements for a tempor- 
ary burial in the graveyard at Grez until such time as 
Mrs. Delius was able to travel, and a suitable spot in 
England could be found. 

That night we heard the B.B.C. announcement of 
his death, followed by that exquisite passage from the 
Walk to the Paradise Garden (page 228). 

Looking out over the garden, as I listened to that 
music, I saw the world of music as he entered it, and 
the world of music, richer now by far through his 
legacy of loveliness, as he had left it. And I, being 
young and of that hard, cold, and materialistic post- 
war generation of those who know little or nothing of 
the world of which he had sung, but only of a world 
of shams and substitutes and devastations, felt a sense 



228 



DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

A- 





of finality, distinct from personal loss, as if with tlrs 
man the very Spirit of Romance had died. 

The following day Mrs, Delius sent to Paris for a 
mouleur to come and make a death-mask, and take an 
impression of the composer's right hand. There being 
no one else to help, it fell to my lot to assist at these 
gruesome proceedings, and, when a photographer had 
been called in to take several photographs of the dead 
man, I was glad to see the last of these gentlemen. 
How horrible are the tawdry trappings of death ! 

The next afternoon, with the sun still high in the 
sky, we laid him to rest in the ugly churchyard which 
is reached after a few minutes' walk out of the village 
on that Marlotte road, the scene of so many of our 
evening walks. 

It was the strangest ceremony I have ever seen, and 
never do I want to see another like it. Yet there was 



THE SUNDOWN 229 

something about it - a something difficult to express 
in words that was characteristic of the man Delius, 
who had always gone his own way, been true to 
himself, and steadfast in his particular attitude towards 
life and death. 

There was to be no semblance of a funeral what- 
ever, and, when I had seen the coffin safely into the 
garish horse-drawn hearse awaiting it at the door, I 
departed in the opposite direction to join Brooks at 
his house, leaving it to go its lonely way up the village 
street, unattended save for the bearers who slouched 
along beside it. Balfour Gardiner, Mrs. Brooks, and 
her sister had gone on ahead, and, skirting the village 
in Brooks's car, Brooks, Barjansky, Klemperer (an 
old friend from Paris), and I met them at the grave- 
yard and waited there. When the hearse had passed 
through the gates, we instinctively assumed some sort 
of orderly procession behind it, and followed it round to 
where it now halted amid the rows of rusty iron crosses 
bedecked with artificial flowers and wreaths, all in the 
sickliest colours. The coffin was taken from the hearse 
and borne across the ground to the grave by the wall. 
We all stood back, not knowing quite what to do, and 
the bearers now put it down on to the planks beside 
the grave and, turning round, eyed us appealingly. 
Someone nudged my elbow, and I heard Balfour 
Gardiner whisper, 'You go, Fenby'; so I walked over 
to the graveside and gave them the sign to lower the 
coffin into the grave. This done, the bearers stood 
aside, and the rest, nervous and embarrassed, came 
over to where I was. We lingered there for several 
moments in silence, bare-headed, looking down into 



230 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

the grave, and I wondered what was going on in the 
minds of the others. Then we all walked slowly away, 
still silent, and the masons began their work before 
the filling in of the grave. 

The villagers behaved admirably. There was no 
idle curiosity, no lining of the street. Not one of them 
came near the graveyard. They understood. 

Several days kter a heather wreath arrived from the 
Lord Mayor and citizens of Bradford. Delius's old 
gardener wheeled it up to the graveside on his barrow, 
and stood with his cap in his hand as I laid it on the 
grave in their name. 

I remained in Grez for a few weeks longer, until 
Mrs. Delius's aged brother and sister-in-law were 
able to pay her a visit. I then returned to England, 
happy in the belief that she was making a complete 
recovery. Later that year she was well enough to 
come over to England, and, with the help of Miss 
Margaret Harrison, chose the spot at Limpsfield 
where Delius now lies. It was arranged provisionally 
that his body should be brought over and buried 
there in the May or June of the following year. 

As the months of that year passed by, it was evident 
that Mrs. Delius was not maintaining her progress, 
and during the last weeks immediately preceding 
Delius's reinterment it seemed doubtful whether she 
would be fit to travel. So determined was she to 
attend her husband's funeral that nothing could dis- 
suade her, even though it was necessary to take her 
by ambulance to Paris. That she was unable to do so 
after having already reached London was a tragic 
disappointment to her. 



THE SUNDOWN 231 

I had promised her that I would return to Grez, to 
witness the exhumation and accompany Delius on his 
last journey* The coffin was now housed in the 
mortuary in the graveyard, and, having seen Mrs* 
Delius off by train from Paris, I went back to Grez 
alone. Early the next morning, as I was standing 
beside the passenger motor-hearse bidding farewell 
to Brooks and his wife whilst the others loaded it with 
its heavy burden, I could not help remarking how 
wrong Delius had been when he had chosen to be 
buried in England. He belonged to Grez, and only 
to Grez. 

My friends agreed with me. 

And as I looked back and saw them standing in the 
middle of the road gazing after us as we drove up that 
Marlotte road overlooking Grez -his favourite walk 
for years in his active days, and the road on which he 
loved to be wheeled in his carriage at sunset in the 
evening of his days - 1 knew that I was right. 

From now on a curious indifference possessed me. 

It struck nine as we passed through Fontainebleau, 
and we judged that with luck we should reach 
Boulogne by six that night* Turning west just before 
entering Paris, we passed through Versailles and 
headed north for Beauvais. My two young com- 
panions sitting at the front of the coach - the chauffeur 
a fat, happy, red-faced little fellow dressed in green 
livery, and the undertaker, tall, effeminate, and 
painful in a tight-fitting black coat and enshrouded in 
an air of professional gloom - seemed highly solicitous 
for mv comfort and entertainment as we rode aloner. 

j O 

Whenever we passed some object of interest, lite 
QD 



232 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

latter turned round, and, pulling back the sliding glass 
door in the screen which separated us, called my 
attention to its peculiarities, and held forth about its 
history in a manner that suggested that he had once 
been a guide of some sort or another. When we 
reached Beauvais, he asked me if I wished to stop there 
for lunch, and, when I had assented, he showed me a 
great hotel to which, he said, English people usually 
went. I asked my friends if I might lunch with them 
instead, on condition that they came as my guests* 
They told me that they knew a little restaurant where 
we should get good food and good wine, and, having 
backed the hearse up a side-street and left it there, 
they showed me the way down some dirty alleys 
which led into a narrow street approaching the 
cathedral. Here we found our restaurant and entered. 
The meal was all they had promised it to be, and more ! 
It is a rule never to be forgotten in France to eat where 
the French eat, not where the English and Americans 
eat. My companions were very talkative and inter- 
esting, and I learnt a great deal about their respective 
occupations. They were keenly interested in, and 
asked a great many questions about, the King's 
Jubilee, and about life for such as them in London. 
They said that people of their class had been greatly 
impressed by the loyalty and unity of the British 
Empire. Who was Monsieur Delius, and what did 
he do ? They had never heard of him. Several times 
during the meal I had shown signs of uneasiness about 
the hearse up that back street, and, when I suggested 
that I should like to slip out to see if it was still there, 
they roared with laughter. I told them sternly that 



THE SUNDOWN 233 

it was no joking matter for me. My tall friend was 
bent on showing me round the cathedral. I might 
not pass by that way again. It was still very hot when 
we left the restaurant, and, leaving his mate to refuel 
the hearse, he conducted me along the narrow streets 
until, reaching an opening, we suddenly saw the 
fa9ade towering up before us. My chief recollection 
is the delicious coolness that met us when we entered, 
and how I thought of the time when I had caught cold, 
or imagined I had caught cold, on coming from an 
icy little church, not far from Grez, into the great 
heat outside, and how Delius had said that it served 
me right. He hoped it would teach me a lesson never 
to enter a church again. 

Passing through Abbeville, we reached Boulogne a 
little sooner than we had expected and made our way 
down to the docks. Here, after consulting some filthy 
ledgers, they examined my papers relating to the 
deceased, and with much ado finally stamped them. 
The coffin was now put into a packing-case by a 
Boulogne undertaker and his men and swung aboard 
the Channel boat* My companions of the day were 
now ravenously hungry, so we parted, they to a cafe 
near the docks and I on to the boat. 

Shortly after nine o'clock, when the passengers had 
disembarked, the coffin was being lifted into the 
English hearse which awaited it alongside the boat at 
Folkestone, and soon we were on our way to Limps- 
field. It was midnight by the time we got there, and 
pitch-dark. The vicar met us at the lychgate, the 
coffin was placed on a bier, and, with lanterns to guide 
us, we moved slowly to the graveside. The coffin was 



234 DELIUS AS I KNEW HIM 

lowered into the grave, and the silence of the night 
broken by the vicar's prayer, c tet light perpetual shine 
on them, O Lord, and may the souls of the departed 
through the mercy of God rest in peace/ The coffin 
was now covered up temporarily for the night with 
boards. 

I will not write of the funeral service in the late 
afternoon of that day. Such people as may find this 
book of interest were, no doubt, all there, or will have 
read about it elsewhere. 

For me, it was all wrong. If the shade of Delius 
looked down from the Elysian fields, he too must have 
seen that it was all wrong and that he had blundered. 
Better that he had been left in that cold graveyard at 
Grez, over there by the wall amongst the peasants 
whom he had known, than that he should rest with 
strangers in a strange place even in his native land. 

They buried his bones at Limpsfield, but his spirit 
will ever remain at Grez, the home of his life's work 
and the country round which was his chief inspiration. 

Whatever feeling he may have had for England, 
Florida, and Norway, Grez was his home, and Grez 
should have been his last resting-place. 

The only thing that was right was that a few days 
later his wifeshould be buriedwith him. This had been 
his wish when the time came, and justly so, for her one 
aim in life had been the establishment of his genius. 

And so our friendship came to an end, and with it 
the passing of a man the likes of whom I know I 
shall never meet again. Youth is a strange time, 
and the stuff of youth is stranger. How glad I am 
that I wrote that letter I 



APPENDIX OF 
SCORES 



(By kind permission of Messrs. Boosey & Hawkes) 



A SONG OF SUMMER 




SONGS OF FAREWELL II 




Ed* 



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INDEX 



AIR AND DANCE, 60 

Albeniz, 195 

Appalachia t 60, 61, 119, 201 

BACH, 181, 190 

Balzac, 104 

Barjansky, 13, 21, 22, 24-7, 57, 229 

Bart6k, 61 

Bax, Arnold, 131 

Beecham, Sir Thomas, 10, 23, 25, 

29, 56-7> 63, 79, 85-6, 88-90, 

96, 105, 112-14, 163, 170, 199, 

216, 221-4, 227 
Beethoven, 81, 188, 190, 195, 196, 

200, 202, 207, 209 
Berlioz, 195 
Bernard, Anthony, 59 
Bizet, 195 
Borodin, 195 
Boult, Dr. Adrian, 2x5 
Bradlaugh, 171 
Brandes, 180 
Brigg Fair, 25, 53, 208 
Brooks, Alden, 43, 65, 225, 227, 

229, 231 
Bruckner, 123 
Busoni, Benni, 57 
Busoni, Ferdinando, 57 
Busoni, Ferruccio, 57-8, 121, 196 
Busoni, Gerda, 57 

CAPRICE AND ELEGY, 102 
Cassirer, Fritz, 205 
'Cello Concerto, 22 
'Cello Sonata, 22, 24, 68 
Chabrier, 196 
Chesterton, G- K., 91, 190 
Chopin, 78, 190, 209 
Common, Thomas, 6 
Conrad, Joseph, 205 
Corot, 42 

Courtauld,Mrs.,ii4 
Cynara, 69, 70-1 

DA FALLA, 195 

Dance Rhapsody No. i, 108 

Dance Rhapsody No. 2, 56 



Debussy, 195, 196 

Ddius, Frederick, 5, 7, 10, 12-18, 
20-3, 25-9, 31-4, 36-8, 40-1, 
43-5, 47-52, 54-5, 57-62, 64-75, 
77-94, 96-103, 105-7, "MS, 

H7-l8, 122, 125, I3I-2, 102, 

164, 167, 169-72, 176-9, 181-3, 

186-94, 198, 201, 203-11, 215, 
217-26,229,231-4 

Delius, Jelka, 9-15, 18, 21, 2*3, 25, 
28, 3i, 33-4, 40, 44, 49-52, 59* 
66-7, 74, 78-9, 85, 91-2, 95, 
102-3, 108-11, 114, 125-6, 163, 
170, *87> 199, 205-6, 217-22, 
224-7, 230-1 

Delius, Peggy, 126, 216 

Dent, Professor, 57, 121 

Donizetti, 71 

Dowson, Ernest, 69 

Dykes, John, 182 

ELGAR, 4, 52, 65, 112-14, 123-^ 

178, 199, 208, 209 
Erskine, 97-101 
Ewntyr, 15, 56, 199, 200, 216, 221 

Fantastic Dance, 112, 215 
Fenmmore and Gerda, 104, 201 
Festival, Delius, 60, 70, 84, 88-9 
Flecker, James Elroy, 44 
Florida, 25, 164, 165, 168, 171, 234 

GARDINER, BALFOUR, xo, 17, 27, 29, 
44, 49, 57, 92-3, 95, 223-4, 227, 
229 

Gauguin, 91 

Gibson, Henry, 88 

Goethe, 194 

Goossens, L., 23 

Grainger, Percy, 44, 74-7, 79^ 

85 

Granados, 195 
Gray, Cecil, 63, 121-2, 208 

regorian chant, 63, 180 
Grieg, 53, So, *$3, 168-9, 190, J9 

209 
Gunn, James, 117-18 



INDEX 



HADUBY, PATRICK, 92-3, 95-6 

Haley, Olga, 216 

Harrison, Beatrice, 102 

Harrison, Margaret, 230 

Harrison, May, 92, 96 

Hassan, 44, 5, 57, acfc 

Haydn, 178 

Haym, Dr. Hans, 51-2 

Haym, Suzanne, 51-2 

Henderson, Roy, 121 

Henley, 70-1 

Heseltine, Joseph, 20, 62, 70 

Heseltine, Philip, 20, 22, 58-60, 

63-6, 70, 88-9, 105, "3, 2<>4 
Hiawatha, 68 

Howard-Jones, Evlyn, 45-6, 79-82 
Howard-Jones, Grace, 45, 79-80 

IDYLL, 119, 121, 123-4 

In a Summer Garden, 53, 113, aoi, 

208, 220 
IrmeUn, 112 

JANSSEN, HERBERT, 124 
John, Augustus, 89 
Johnson, Dr., 184 

KENNEDY-FRASER, MBS., 195 
Kennedy-Scott, C., 7, 89 
Klemperer, 229 
Koanga, 51, 95, * 

LAEETTE, DORA, 121 
Larson, Carl, 42 
Late Lark, A, 70, 105 
Leipzig,. 168 
Umpsfield, 230, 233 
Liszt, 196 

MAHLER, 123 

Margot-la-Rouge, 118-19 

Mass of Life, 6-7, 26, 88-9, 119, 

170, 171, 190, 200, 205 
Mendelssohn, 189, 195 
Memihin, Yehudi, 125 
Moscheles, 205 
Moussorgsky, 195 
Mozart, 52, 182, 195, 199, 202 
Munch, Edvard, 14, 42 

NICHOLS, ROBERT, 119, 178, 179 
Nietzsche, 7, 14, 164, 17*-*, 179. 

181-3, 191 
Newman, Ernest, 124, 224 



North Country Sketches, 201 
Norway, 72, 74, 91, 121, 234 

O'NEILL, NORMAN, 53, 83-4, 117 
On Hearing the First Cuckoo, 23, 53 
Osbourne, Fanny, 43 

PALESTRINA, 52, 172, 180-1 
Paris, the Song of a Great City, 56, 

58, 68, 193-^, 200, 221-2 
Parry, 124 
Perosi, 178 
Pianoforte Concerto, first version, 

Pianoforte Concerto, second 

version, 80, 112 
Poem of Life and Love, A, 17, 29, 

34, 44, $o, 70, 13* 
Puccini, 195 

QUARTET, STRING, 64-5, 187 
Quilter, Roger, 57 

RAVEL, 196 
Requiem, pagan, 102 
Rimsky-Korsakov, 195 
Rossini, 71 
Runciman, John, 82 
Ruysbroeck, John of, i73~5 

SARGENT, MALCOLM, 115-16 

Schumann, 195 

Sea-drift, 10, 35, 53, &>> "9, *>x, 

203 

Shakespeare, 190 
Sibelius, 53, 123, 190, igz, 200, 

202 

Simon, Dr., 57 

Smith, Matthew, 65 

Sonata for Violin and Piano No. x, 

187, 199 
Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 3, 

91-2, 96, 122 
Song of Summer, 82, in, 115, 

13^-47, 157, 206, Appendix 
Song of the High Htlls, 75, 115, 

201 

Songs of Farewell, xoi, 105, 114, 
116, 147-57, Appendix 

Songs of Sunset, 68-70, 86, 120-1, 
201, 203, 216 

Spence, Kenneth, 

Spohr, 190 

Stevenson, R. L., 43 



INDEX 



Strauss, J charm, 53 
Strauss, Richard, 192, 196 
Strindberg, 14, 43 
Summer Night on the River > 53 

TERRY, RICHARD, 64 
Tends, Lionel, 122 
Toye, Geoffrey, 221 
Twain, Mark, 220, 223 

VAN DIEREN, BERNARD, 61, 187 
Verdi, 192, 195, 210 
Victoria, 52, 180, 181 



Village Romeo and Juliet, A, 46, 

60, 68, 119, 198 
Violin Concerto, 5, 41 

WAGNER* 196, 203, 209 

Walk to the Paradise Garden^ 53, 

216, 227 

Wallace, Edgar, 220 
Ward, Thomas, 168-9, *7 
Whistler, 190 
Whitman, Wak, 36, 102, 119* 

194, 200 

Wolf, HugO, 71, T23, 124 

Wood, Sir Henry J., ni, 121 



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