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8.557242 - DELIUS: Violin Concerto (Tintner Edition 10)
TINTNER MEMORIAL EDITION • VOLUME 10
Frederick Delius (1862-1934)
Violin Concerto • Irmelin Prelude • La Calinda • The Walk to the Paradise Garden
Intermezzo from ‘Fennimore and Gerda’ • On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring
Summer Night on the River • Sleigh Ride Performances recorded 5-6th December 1991
Though Delius was born (as Fritz Theodore Albert, on 29th January 1862) in Bradford, England, of German parents, he was the true cosmopolitan. He lived most of his life in France, Scandinavia and America, and his music shows traces of them all. After a rather stern upbringing Delius was compelled to join the family wool-brokering business, his desire to be a musician ignored. By the time he was 22 it was clear he was totally unsuited to it, so his father Julius sent him to Florida to farm oranges. As an orchardist Delius was a complete failure, but the experiment yielded one real benefit: Delius was deeply influenced by the negro songs and spirituals of the South, clearly evident in his first published work, Florida Suite.
Under the influence of Edvard Grieg, whom Delius had met in Norway, Julius finally agreed to finance Delius’ music studies in Leipzig, where he began composing. Delius’ early work Sleigh Ride was to have been premièred at one of Grieg’s parties, but was not, owing to a surfeit of schnapps. In Maestro Tintner’s opinion, “If one doesn’t know this piece is by Delius one would never guess, except for the last few bars. But it’s very pleasant, and perhaps it is interesting to see how a great man started not so great.”
Delius moved to Paris, leading a wild life. There he wrote his first major composition, the opera Irmelin, which did not receive its first performance until 1953, nineteen years after his death. The Irmelin Prelude, all that is now played from the work, is in fact a concert piece based on the opera taken down by Delius’ amanuensis Eric Fenby in 1931.
In 1897 Delius completed his third opera, Koanga, about Creole society in Louisiana and thus the first African-American opera. The dance La Calinda, which appeared in an earlier version in the Florida Suite, is one of Delius’ best-known and loveliest pieces. Between 1899 and 1901 he wrote the opera A Village Romeo and Juliet, in the format of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, written contemporaneously. Beecham said in 1953 that “it is the most consistently musical stage piece of its kind written in the last sixty years.” It comprises many tableaux linked by interludes, of which The Walk to the Paradise Garden is one. The opera, aside from the present excerpt, is very rarely performed.
In 1901 Delius’ father died, leaving him only the lease on the orange plantation. Short of money, Delius returned to Grez-sur-Loing and the house of the artist Jelka Rosen, whom he had met in 1896, and married her in 1903. He lived there for the rest of his life.
The opera Fennimore and Gerda, based on Danish writer Jens Peter Jakobsen’s book Niels Lhyne, was written in 1908-1910. In recent times it has suffered the same neglect as his earlier operas; only the Intermezzo, made up of two of the opera’s interludes, is regularly performed. Delius’ best-known works, Summer Night on the River and On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring, were written in 1911 and 1912 respectively, and show Delius the miniaturist at his greatest. As portrayals of nature – the hoverflies flitting over the water at the end of Summer Night, the distant cuckoo calls in the woods – they are unsurpassed.
The Violin Concerto followed in 1916, a rhapsodic work in one movement. Delius was inspired to write it after hearing the Brahms Double Concerto. It was dedicated to Albert Sammons, who gave the first performance in 1919 with the Royal Philharmonic under Adrian Boult. Though it is beautifully written as a soliloquy for the violin (Delius was himself a good violinist), it has never gained a place in the standard concerto repertoire, for it is not at all a bravura piece to showcase the soloist. What is worse, from the virtuoso’s point of view, is that it ends pianissimo. The work is nevertheless strenuous, for the soloist has hardly a moment’s rest from beginning to end. According to Maestro Tintner, “[Unlike a ‘normal’ concerto] it is not the putting the soloist against the orchestra, it is like a wonderful improvisation, something on the spur of the moment. Of course it is totally calculated, but it must not sound like it.”
By this time Delius’ wild life in Paris had caught up with him. Already in 1912 he was ill with the first signs of syphilis; by 1921 both hands were paralysed and by 1925 he was blind. But he continued composing, aided by his amanuensis Eric Fenby, but his later works add little to his reputation. After much suffering, Delius died on 10th June 1934.
Though Delius is now considered an English composer, in his lifetime his music was much more highly regarded in Germany, and by composers such as Kodály and (rather surprisingly) Bartók, whose music could hardly be more dissimilar. Delius’ music is now out of fashion, for our times do not favour art that is never vulgar, never strident. But for those who have an ear for such gentle and subtle music, Delius remains one of the masters.
Georg Tintner was born in Vienna in 1917. He began studying piano at the age of six and to compose soon after. From nine to thirteen he was a member of the Vienna Boys Choir, where he also conducted the choir in performances of his own compositions. At thirteen he entered the Vienna State Academy as a composition prodigy, studying composition with Josef Marx and conducting with Felix Weingartner. At eighteen he was the conductor of a training choir of the Vienna Boys Choir, and trained the choir for a performance of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony with Bruno Walter in 1936. His compositions were being performed in concert and broadcast by Austrian Radio, and at nineteen he became assistant conductor at the Vienna Volksoper.
In 1938 he fled the Nazis, spending a year in England before emigrating to New Zealand. For several years he ran a poultry farm – as a result of which he became a total vegetarian – before becoming Music Director of the Auckland String Players and Auckland Choral Society in 1947. He was also an avowed socialist and pacifist, and as such he rode a bicycle as “a symbol of the ultimate in harmlessness”.
In 1954 he went to Australia as Resident Conductor of the National Opera and then the Elizabethan Opera. In the following years he toured Australia widely and pioneered television opera with the Australian Broadcasting Commission. In 1964 he was Music Director of the New Zealand Opera, and in 1966-67 was Music Director of the Cape Town Municipal Orchestra. Although offered an extended contract, Tintner left for political reasons. He went to London and Sadler’s Wells (English National Opera) for three years, with guest appearances with the London Mozart Players, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, the Northern Sinfonia and the London Symphony Orchestra for the BBC.
He returned to Australia in 1970 as Music Director of the West Australian Opera Company. In 1971 he was invited as Music Director of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, a visit so successful that it was repeated seven times. Tintner had a special rapport with young musicians, conducting many concerts with the national youth orchestras of several countries. A 1974 series of lectures have been broadcast many times in English-speaking countries, and he was renowned for his concert introductions, some of which may be heard in this edition.
Tintner’s repertoire included 56 operas, about two-thirds of which he conducted from memory. In 1974 he became Senior Resident Conductor of the Australian Opera for two years. While there he conducted now-legendary performances of Fidelio, expressive of his lifelong commitment to compassionate humanism. From 1976 Tintner was Music Director of the Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra until moving to Canada at the end of 1987 as Music Director of Symphony Nova Scotia. He appeared with all Australian, New Zealand orchestras and opera companies, and later with all major Canadian orchestras including the Montreal and Toronto Symphony Orchestras. In the United States he toured with the Canadian Brass and appeared with the Michigan Opera Theatre.
He made many commercial recordings, including some for the CBC which are being reissued in the present Memorial Edition. His Naxos series of all eleven Bruckner symphonies brought him worldwide acclaim in his final two years.
Georg Tintner has been honoured in four countries. He was awarded several honorary doctorates, and honours including the Officer’s Cross of the Austrian Order Of Merit. He was a Member of the Order of Canada
He died in Halifax in October 1999.
Symphony Nova Scotia
Symphony Nova Scotia (SNS) is Canada’s only fully professional symphony orchestra east of Quebec City. Founded in 1983, the 37 musicians of Symphony Nova Scotia have a mandate “to enhance the quality of life of citizens of Nova Scotia.” Symphony Nova Scotia is dedicated to sharing live classical music with audiences across Nova Scotia through its concerts, and with all Canadians through its many CBC broadcasts. The orchestra also collaborates with other music, theatre, and dance partners, and has recently established the Symphony Nova Scotia Chorus.
In the recordings in this series the second violins are placed on the right of the conductor, for the antiphonal effect between first and second violins these composers expected to hear.
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