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Frederick Delius
1862 - 1934
Great Britain, England
Picture
F. Delius
Frederick Delius (29/01/1862 - 10/06/1934), an English composer, born in Bradford, but he lived and worked in France.
Source: Grove’s dictionary of music and musicians
Requiem
Period:Expressionism
Composed in:1916
Musical form:free
Text/libretto:Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)
Duration:30'52''
In memory of:all young artists fallen in the war
Label(s):EMI Classics CDZ 7243 5 75293 2 7
Chandos CHAN 9515 (2)
This secular requiem for soprano and baritone solo, chorus and orchestra has perhaps been hampered in its concert life by being a defiantly unChristian and, for that matter, unIslamic work. Delius preached the gospel of glory in the high noon of life and meeting death fearlessly in his knowledge that after death there was nothingness. This was a merciless message to the audiences of the 1920s with perhaps every other member of the audience touched by loss in the Great War. The unremitting bitterness is exacerbated by the rather elitist dedication 'To the memory of all young artists fallen in the war'. Here was no comforting message; nothing of the popular comforting spiritualism of those days with hands of the bereaved reaching to grip the hands of the uniformed dead. Seemingly John Foulds' World Requiem retained its mid-1920s popularity because it spoke of reunion. Julius Harrison's Requiem of Archangels is a work, by repute, allied with the Foulds. Delius's Requiem has more in common with Bantock's celebration of Carpe Diem where death is associated with the phrase 'turn down an empty glass' and the dead lie 'star-scattered' shells on the grass. For Bantock and Delius this life was all there was ¼ and then negation. Their message was: bask in life and all its joys.
The anti-religious message of the Requiem was intensified by having the choirs sing 'alleluia' and 'La il Allah' antiphonally - a blasphemous coup. It is no wonder the work found no place at The Three Choirs! In fact the infamy of juxtaposing such religious material might, in more recent times, have drawn down on Delius what fell on Salman Rushdie for his novel The Satanic Verses. But the music is amongst the best Delius. More concise than A Mass of Life and vastly more effective. Its sad sweetness is utterly uncloying and part of its grip on success is down to the clarity of the mingled lines and textures which achieves a wonderful transparency from which Herbert Howells and Patrick Hadley were later to learn.
Author:Rob Barnett
Part I

Chorus
Our days here are as one day;
for all our days are rounded in a sleep;
they die and ne'er come back again.

Baritone solo
Why then dissemble we with a tale of falsehoods?
We are e'en as a day, that's young at morning
and old at eventide, and departs
and never more returns.

Chorus
We are e'en as a day,
that's young at morning and old at eventide,
and comes again no more.

Baritone solo (and choral interjections)
At this regard the weaklings waxed sore afraid,
and drugged themselves with dreams and golden visions,
and built themselves a house of lies to live in.

Then rose a storm with mighty winds and laid it low.

And out of the storm the voice of truth resounded
in trumpet tones:
"Man, thou art mortal and needs must thou die."

Chorus
Our days here are as one day;
for all our days are rounded in a sleep;
they die and ne'er come back again.

Part II
Chorus
Hallelujah!
Allah, il Allah.

Baritone solo
And the highways of earth are full of cries;
The ways of the earth bring forth gods and idols.
Whoso a-while regards them turns from them,
and keeps apart from all men;
for fame and its glories seem but idle nothings.

(and Chorus)
For all who are living know that Death is coming,
but at the touch of Death lose knowledge of all things,
nor can they have any part in the ways and doings
of men on the earth where they were.

Baritone solo
Therefore eat thy bread in gladness
and lift up thy heart and rejoice in thy wine,
and take to thyself some woman whom thou lovest,
and enjoy life.
What task so e'er be thine, work with a will,
For thou shalt know none of these things,
when thou comest to thy journey's end.

Chorus
For all who are living know that Death is coming,
but at the touch of Death lose knowledge of all things.

Part III
Baritone solo
My beloved whom I cherished was like a flower
whose fair buds were folded lightly,
and she open'd her heart at the call of Love.
Among her fragrant blossoms Love had his dwelling
and to all who longed, her love she gave.

Chorus
Among her fragrant blossoms Love had his dwelling.

Baritone solo
I praise her above all other women
who are poor in possessing,
and so are poor in giving too.

Were not the world the abode of dissemblers,
and were not men's hearts so impure,
then all the world would join me
in praising my beloved.
She gave to many, and yet was chaste
and pure as a flower.
My beloved whom I cherished was like a flower.

Part IV
Soprano solo
I honour the man who can love life,
yet without base fear can die.
He has attained the heights
and won the crown of life.

Chorus
The crown!

Soprano solo
I honour the man who dies alone
and makes no lamentation.
His soul has ascended to the mountain top,
that is like a throne which towers
above the great plains that roll
far away into the distance.

The sun goes down and the evening
spreads its hands in blessing
o'er the world, bestowing peace;
And so creeps on the night that whelms
and quenches all; the night that binds
our eyes with cloths of darkness;
binds them in long and dreamless sleep;
Dreamless sleep, thou art death's twin brother.

Chorus
Long, dreamless sleep.

Soprano solo
And the passing spirit sings - but this only:
"Farewell, I loved ye all!"
And the voices of nature answer him:

Chorus
"Thou art our brother!"

Soprano solo
And so the star of his life sinks down
in the darkness whence it had risen.

Part V
Baritone solo
The snow lingers yet on the mountains,
but yonder in the valley the buds
are breaking on the trees and hedges.

Soprano solo
Golden the willow branches
and red the almond blossoms.

The little full-throated birds
have already begun their singing.
But hearken, they cannot cease for very joy
from singing a song whose name is Spring-time.

Chorus
Spring-time! Spring-time!

Baritone solo
The woods and forests are full
of coolness and silence,
and silv'ry brooklets
prattle round their borders.

Chorus
The woods and forests are full of silence.

Baritone solo
The golden corn awaits the hand
of the reaper, for ripeness
bids death come.

Chorus
Ripeness bids death come.

Baritone and Soprano soli, Chorus
Eternal renewing; everything on earth
will return again.
Everything on earth will return again,
ever return again.
Springtime, Summer, Autumn and Winter:
And then comes Springtime -
and then new Springtime.
Picture
F.W. Nietzsche (text)