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Epilogue

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 June 2021

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Summary

The central issue of this study of Delius's music has been to examine the composer's musical style and ethos with a particular emphasis on its formal coherence and cohesion, since the latter has always remained an issue of controversy and disagreement among Delius's critics and, most of all, his detractors. To some extent Delius himself did not assist the reception of his own music in denouncing the benefits of musical education, and more specifically his own at the Leipzig Conservatoire. His comments, according to Fenby, about Leipzig, made in an era when (a) technical mastery was increasingly considered a trammel to genuine creativity, (b) academicism a synonym for pedestrianism, and (c) autodidacticism a virtue, have, nevertheless, to be accepted ‘with a pinch of salt’. Delius may have learned the rudiments of music from Thomas Ward, but his musical technique almost certainly widened exponentially during his two years at Leipzig – Florida and Hiawatha both demonstrate how far he had come – and, even then, he had mastered sufficient technique to allow some of his original imagination to reveal itself. Judging from the counterpoint he had learned with Jadassohn, a third year at Leipzig might have proved additionally beneficial had he possessed the patience to stay on, not least because it might have enhanced his appreciation of counterpoint as an emancipating compositional force. But Delius was eager to get on and he chose the more empirical path of selfcommunion to develop his style, by private study of Grieg and by copying parts of Wagner's operas, besides frequenting the concert hall and opera theatres as much as was physically possible during the 1890s. In many ways these years more fully constituted his ‘university’ education, though the life and values Delius chose to pursue made the process of development as a composer that much more complex, protracted and hard-won.

Delius is well known to have shunned the idea of ‘formal’ structure, and over the years this has not been helped by observations such as ‘the intellectual content of Delius's music is perilously thin’, or that form in Delius ‘was unimportant’. For many, of course, this chimed with the notion that his music was ‘self-governing and self-reliant’ rather than conforming to some preconceived impediments imposed by academic exigency.

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The Music of Frederick Delius
Style, Form and Ethos
, pp. 475 - 482
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2021

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  • Epilogue
  • Jeremy Dibble
  • Book: The Music of Frederick Delius
  • Online publication: 18 June 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781787447998.017
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  • Epilogue
  • Jeremy Dibble
  • Book: The Music of Frederick Delius
  • Online publication: 18 June 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781787447998.017
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Epilogue
  • Jeremy Dibble
  • Book: The Music of Frederick Delius
  • Online publication: 18 June 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781787447998.017
Available formats
×