Obscure Music Monday: Delius' Summer Night on the River
Frederick Theodore Albert Delius (Jan. 29, 1862 - June 10, 1934) was an English composer, born in to a wealthy family. Delius didn't want to go in to business and commerce like his family, and resisted it as much as possible. While the family was heavily involved in commerce, the Delius household liked to entertain musicians often, and Delius found himself a fan of Chopin and Grieg's music. He began taking violin lessons and became quite good, and he enjoyed playing the piano as well. He went on to college, and his father continued to try to get him involved in the family business. Delius eventually gave in to his father's whims, but would end up neglecting his duties. In frustration, his father sent him to work on an orange plantation in Florida. There he worked on counterpoint and composition, and his father eventually realized how much he loved music, and brought him back so he could study it formally.
Delius' music isn't obscure per se, but isn't programmed terribly often here in America. His orchestral work Summer Night on the River is a beautifully evocative piece, and the companion piece to On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring. The river in question is the Loing, which faced Delius' home in the French village of Grez. This atmospheric work is laid back, and almost lazy, with winding chromatic notes that are in no hurry to get to the next. There's rich cello and viola solos that rise above the relaxed atmosphere, and the slow-winding nature of this work makes you wonder about how relaxing it must have been for Delius to observe and enjoy this river.
Thankfully there are recordings of this work to enjoy!