Delius: Composer, Lover, Enigma

2012   BBC Four

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The composer Frederick Delius is often pictured as the blind, paralysed and caustic old man he eventually became.  But in his youth he was tall, energetic, handsome and charming – not Frederick at all for most of his life, but Fritz.  He was a contemporary of Elgar and Mahler, yet forged his own musical language, with which he always tried to capture the pleasure of the moment.  Using evidence from his friend, the Australian composer Percy Grainger, who reported that Delius “practised immorality with puritanical stubbornness”, this film by John Bridcut explores the multiple contradictions of his colourful life.  Delius has long been renowned for his depiction of the natural environment, with pieces such as On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring, yet his music is usually steeped in the sensuality and eroticism that he himself experienced.  This feature-length documentary features specially-filmed performances by the widely-acclaimed Danish interpreters of Delius, the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Bo Holten, as well as the chamber choir, Schola Cantorum of Oxford, and the violinist Philippe Graffin.

FILM CREDITS

Director of Photography Jonathan Partridge
Orchestral Sound Claus Byrith
Orchestral Lighting Henrik Viero
Sound Paul Paragon, Bob Newton
Dubbing Mixer Guus Hoevenaars
Film Editor Samuel Santana
Production Manager Alexandra Bridcut, Claire Birch
Research Laurent Tabet
Assistant Producer Cat Dixon
BBC Commissioning Executive Adam Barker
Executive Producer Magnus Temple
Written, narrated and directed by John Bridcut

(1 x 90')

REVIEWS

'Following his two magnificent documentaries, Britten's Children and Elgar: The Man Behind the Mask, the film-maker John Bridcut has taken on his most ambitious project to date – to resurrect the work of Frederick Delius....  Bridcut's film is a passionate polemic in celebration of a one-off – a wholly unclassifiable genius'

David Chater, The Times

'A superlative documentary by John Bridcut which sheds light on the contradictory nature of the composer...  Watch this wonderful programme to find out why it was with great relief that the young Fritz "escaped" to Florida in 1884 on the pretext of entering the citrus trade and what happened next'

Mike Bradley, The Observer

'John Bridcut has written and directed portraits of Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Britten and Parry, all of course British composers, so it was inevitable he'd add Delius to that list.  But as this superb film points out, it's hard to know if Delius was really British at all'

Patrick Mulkern, Radio Times

'John Bridcut's hugely engaging documentary... There is plenty of Delius's music to enjoy here, and Bridcut's regular contributors give their expert opinions on a much underrated composer.   A delightful 90 minutes with an intriguing sybarite'

Jonathan Lennie, Time Out

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