Published online by Cambridge University Press: 18 June 2021
A NEW AUSTERITY
By the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, Delius was enjoying an acclaim about which he might only have dreamt ten years before. A Mass of Life had finally been heard in its entirety both in England and Germany, and the prospects of further performances seemed good. Appalachia had been performed in Hamburg; A Village Romeo and Juliet had been produced under Beecham's supervision at Covent Garden; Schuricht directed Sea Drift in Wiesbaden, Brigg Fair was given in Zürich and, as one of Delius's most popular works, was programmed in many major cities across Europe; there were also invitations from Bartók and Kodály, admirers of the Mass, to visit Budapest. In England his music was now a regular source of interest thanks to the support of his devotees such as Bantock, Beecham, Gardiner, O’Neill, Grainger and the youthful Philip Heseltine, still an Eton schoolboy. And in America, his ties with the plantation at Solana Grove were finally cut after it was sold to his old German friend and confidant, Hans Haym, whose son entertained aspirations to be a farmer. Furthermore, in spite of difficulties with one of his principal publishers, Harmonie Verlag (which caused him to go to law), his music was now widely available in print which in itself helped to nourish its continued performance. Yet, a dark cloud hung over his life which now seemed set so fair, in that the syphilis contracted as a young man now began to manifest its tertiary symptoms as he reached the age of 50, a reality confirmed when he visited the sanatorium at the Swiss resort of Mammern for a cure. Delius was unhappy at Mammern and hoped for something more positive when he entered another sanatorium in Dresden at the end of 1910. The prognosis was a major source of concern for Jelka and his friends though it is a testimony to Delius's fortitude that he recovered sufficiently to return to composition. There was still much music in him, and he was anxious to spend his creative time in Grez and in Norway to make progress with new orchestral and choral works as well as a new opera.
Yet it was Beecham who noted that, with the composition of The Song of the High Hills (see Chapter 12), ‘there was a certain austerity of manner that we have not encountered before’.