Composers Datebook

Delius debuts in London

Frederick Delius (1862 - 1934) Over the Hills and Far Away Royal Philharmonic; Sir Thomas Beecham, cond. EMI Classics 94653 and Warner Classics 47509

Composers Datebook for May 30, 2015


May 30, 2015


On today’s date in 1899, the English composer Frederick Delius mounted at his own expense an all-Delius concert in London, performed by a hand-picked orchestra and well-rehearsed chorus.

Although born and raised in England, Delius had been living as an expat in Europe, so this concert would be the first opportunity for British audiences to hear his music. The opening work on the program, entitled “Over the Hills and Far Away,” could just as well have described the 37-year old composer’s prior career to the Brits.

The good news was the concert was a great success, with one critic stating "a composer wholly unknown to this country burst upon us with something like the astonishing effect of an unexpected thunderstorm."

The bad news was almost immediately after the concert, Delius returned to France. The concert’s organizer wrote to him, “I was extremely sorry that you had to go… It was a business mistake, as you would have been the lion of the season... and would have made many useful musical and moneyed friends.”

In fact, it wasn’t until 1907 that the musical and moneyed British conductor Sir Thomas Beecham would discover and champion Delius’s music in his own homeland.

Music Played in Today's Program

Frederick Delius (1862 - 1934) Over the Hills and Far Away Royal Philharmonic; Sir Thomas Beecham, cond. EMI Classics 94653 and Warner Classics 47509

On This Day


  • 1883 - Italian opera composer Riccardo Zandonai, in Sacco, Trentino;

  • 1932 - American composer Pauline Oliveros, in Houston, Texas;

  • 1953 - American composer Anne LeBaron, in Baton Rouge, La.;


  • 1971 - French composer and organist Marcel Dupré, age 85, in Meudon;


  • 1846 - Lortzing: opera "Der Waffenschmied" (The Armorer), in Vienna at the Theater an der Wien;

  • 1866 - Smetana: "The Bartered Bride" (1st version) in Prague at the Provisional Theater;

  • 1923 - Hanson: Symphony No. 1 ("Nordic"), in Rome, composer conducting;

  • 1927 - Stravinsky: opera-oratorio "Oedipus Rex," at the Sarah Bernhardt Theater in Paris (in concert performance; first staged performance took place in Berlin on Feb. 25, 1928);

  • 1938 - Piston: ballet "The Incredible Flutist," in Boston;

  • 1962 - Britten: oratorio "War Requiem," in the rebuilt Coventry Cathedral in England;

  • 1991 - Harrison Birtwistle: opera "Gawain" in London at the Royal Opera House (Covent Garden), Elgar Howarth conducting;

  • 1995 - Alla Pavlova: Symphony No. 1 (“Farewell Russian”), in Moscow at the Concert Hall of the Union of Russian Composers, by the Russian Philharmonia, Konstantin Krimets, conducting;


  • 1723 - Bach's first cantata performance in Leipzig (Cantata No. 75, "Die Elenden sollen essen"), presented at St. Nicolai Church, the day before his official induction as Cantor in that city.