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Frederick Delius and his neglected "Pagan" Requiem
by Stephen Black for Vocal Area Network
Posted June 3, 2009

Frederick DeliusOn June 10, 1934 (seventy-five years ago almost to the day), Frederick Delius passed away in his home at Grez-sur-Loing, a small village in rural France that was home to a thriving artist colony at the time. He was buried without ceremony in a plot near the village, but later was re-interred in a small country parish churchyard in England, his homeland. Eric Fenby, a composer and also Delius's amenuensis in the last seven years of his life, recounts in his remarkable book Delius As I Knew Him that the re-interrment was accompanied by an Anglican burial service. That Delius should have been memorialized with a Christian burial service is quite an oddity, given the composer's rather outspoken atheism. In the same book an exchange is related in which Delius chastises the young Fenby at length for his Christianity, and pointedly calls him a "weakling." The appearance of this rather charged word in the text of the Requiem (1916) marks the beginning of the portion of the work which has caused the most consternation and bewilderment among critics, musicians and Delius aficionados. At this point, not