The English-born Delius, whose parents had emigrated from Germany, rejected a career in the family business in order to become a composer. He studied whilst staying in the USA, then at the Leipzig Conservatoire, and he developed a pantheistic love of nature. However, after settling in Paris in 1888, he also developed syphilis - in his later years this made him both blind and crippled, yet he still succeeded in composing another string of important works by dictating the music to his amanuensis, Eric Fenby.
Although Delius fostered ambitions as a stage composer, he is best remembered for his sensuous orchestral idylls. His rhapsodic style blends Impressionism and Romanticism, employing expressive harmonies and rich orchestration - indeed creating such sensuous moods and feelings as are usually associated with the French Impressionists rather than with his English compatriots. Even so, he was considered a leading British composer between the wars.
"I cannot do other than regard him as the last great apostle in our time of romance, emotion, and beauty in music." - Thomas Beecham
Works by Frederick Delius include: On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring for small orchestra Appalachia (1898-1903) for baritone, chorus and orchestra A Village Romeo and Juliet (1900-01) Lyric drama in six scenes Sea Drift (1903-04) for baritone, chorus and orchestra A Mass of Life (1904-05) for SATB soloists, chorus and orchestra