The Delius memorial

Havergal Brian

Selected and annotated by Malcolm MacDonald

It needs no words from me to describe the early life of Frederick Delius. Everybody now knows that his parents were born in Germany, migrated to England, where they settled at Bradford and, like Handel, became naturalised; that their son, Delius the composer, was born in Bradford and educated at the Grammar School of that city. Soon after his death, it was decided to purchase Claremont, his birthplace, as a memorial, but it has been found too small for memorial purposes and a museum, though I hope that this does not portent the dissociation of Claremont with the name Delius.

However, something more commensurate with the genius of the man is to be found in the proposed Frederick Delius Memorial in the new buildings of Bradford Grammar School. This is being built in an area of twenty-three acres of playing fields, within a mile and a half of the centre of the city, at a cost of £155,000. The music room in the new school will be dedicated to Delius, and a museum will be formed in association with it, for which a sum of £5000 is needed, the further maintenance being a charge on the school.

A memorial committee has been formed, and the appeal made for the money needed is signed by Sir Thomas Beecham and others. The brochure issued, in itself neat and original as befits Delius, also contains a page from his Mass of Life (one of many striking pages), beginning ‘O man, mark well’, and photographs of the composer. This gives me an opportunity of protesting against the exhibition of drawings of Delius made by Augustus John and James Gunn. However excellent the pictures may be as works of art, they do not represent Delius. I wonder if anywhere can be found a portrait of the composer of thirty years ago, just when be had completed the music which had made him famous and when he lost no opportunity of defying convention.

Delius was then no figure of complacency, —a man of forty-five, tall and erect, sparsely built, and with piercing greyish-blue eyes when talking of music. His attire was at least out of the ordinary, for he affected a Sammy hat and an Inverness cape, the right end of the latter being thrown back, so exposing his right hand on the knob of his walking stick. He looked ready to meet the world in arms: and this is how, I think, other generations should know him. Such a picture should be seen in the Delius Music Room or Museum, where it would correct prevalent impressions.

I hope those who have the desire and means to do something to perpetuate the memory of Delius will send their cheques to the chairman of the committee, Bertram Shackleton, Greystones, Heaton, Bradford.

On the other hand, by La main gauche

Musical opinion, May 1939, p. 686