Frederick Delius is among the most powerfully evocative and inventive voices in early twentieth-century music. Critical appreciation of his achievement, however, has been stubbornly unforthcoming in the wider academic field: there is still no authoritative scholarly biography of the composer, and analytical accounts of Delius’s music remain at a preliminary stage, especially when placed alongside coverage for other comparably significant musical figures. Given recent events following his anniversary year in 2012 (including John Bridcut’s acclaimed documentary for BBC4, and a 2-day conference devoted to his work run by the Delius Society), the time is ripe for an urgent re-evaluation of Delius’s music, reflecting upon his wider significance as an internationally-oriented creative figure writing at a crucial moment in the emergence of a complex and multivalent musical modernism.
The AHRC-funded project Delius, Modernism, and the Sound of Place will both undertake a wholesale reappraisal of the composer and disseminate its findings to non-academic beneficiaries including musicians and performers, journalists, teachers in secondary music education, and members of the general public. The primary outputs of the project are a scholarly monograph and a permanent digital catalogue. Planned events include a conference and launch of the online catalogue at the end of the project, a Study Day for sixth form students, research seminars, workshops and performances, in conjunction with the Royal Academy of Music and the British Library.