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13 - Music of the War Years and After (I): Dance Rhapsody No. 2, Requiem, Eventyr, A Song Before Sunrise, Poem of Life and Love, Hassan (1914–1923)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 June 2021

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Summary

CREATIVE APOGEE AND DECLINE

In many ways the outbreak of war in August 1914 could not have occurred at a worse time for Delius. Performances of his music in England and Germany were at an all-time high. As Carley has noted, he bathed in London's musical scene, enjoyed concerts and operas, and was wined and dined in the capital’s most elevated social circles, even at 10 Downing Street where he lunched with Prime Minister Asquith. Beecham, Wood and others were keen to take on any new works he produced and many of the younger generation, such as Norman O’Neill, Heseltine and Grainger – devoted disciples of Delius's art – continued to help with the promotion of his music. But in the light of the alarming European political events and the extraordinary speed with which nations were being catapulted towards disaster, Delius must have sensed that it was almost inevitable that major military disruption would come. Writing to Heseltine on 30 July, only days before the outbreak of hostilities, he remarked: ‘I do hope War will not break out & knock all Art and Music on the head for years’. The war did indeed bring disorder to Delius's life at Grez. As the Germans made what seemed like their unstoppable advance towards Paris, Grainger's exhortation that he should leave for England and then cross to the United States appeared rational. Although he was forced to leave Grez with Jelka in September, the couple returned home after news of the allied creative apogee and decline In many ways the outbreak of war in August 1914 could not have occurred at a worse time for Delius. Performances of his music in England and Germany were at an all-time high. As Carley has noted, he bathed in London's musical scene, enjoyed concerts and operas, and was wined and dined in the capital’s most elevated social circles, even at 10 Downing Street where he lunched with Prime Minister Asquith. Beecham, Wood and others were keen to take on any new works he produced and many of the younger generation, such as Norman O’Neill, Heseltine and Grainger – devoted disciples of Delius's art – continued to help with the promotion of his music.

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The Music of Frederick Delius
Style, Form and Ethos
, pp. 375 - 408
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2021

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