The Trust promotes the music of Frederick Delius and of British composers born since 1860, by giving help towards the cost of performances, publications and recordings. In addition, assistance is occasionally offered to organizations and institutions active in this field. Priority is always given to the promotion of the works of Delius, especially those that are rarely performed.

Constitution and finance

When Jelka Delius died in May 1935, her Will, made immediately before her death directed that the income of her residuary estate should be applied ‘towards the advancement in England or elsewhere of the musical works of my late Husband Frederick Delius … by means of (1) the recording upon the gramophone of music of those works of my late Husband, which in the opinion of my Trustees and their advisers are suitable for reproduction, (2) the publication of a uniform edition of the whole body of the works of my late Husband or any part thereof … (3) the financing in whole or part of the performance in public of the works of my late Husband.’

The first trustees were the solicitor Philip Emanuel and Barclays Bank. The Will gave them a wide discretion in the manner in which they were to carry out their duties but they were also directed ‘to obtain and faithfully observe the advice and opinion of Sir Thomas Beecham’ in every respect.

By 1956 doubt had been raised as to whether the promotion of the music of an individual by an educational trust was a valid charitable activity. The trustees applied to the High Court for a definitive ruling. In his judgement, reported in The Times on 13 March 1957, Mr Justice Roxburgh said that ‘the education of artistic taste [was] one of the most important things in the development of a civilised human being’. He felt these words were directly applicable to the Trust. The existence in the United Kingdom of a significant number of single-composer trusts and societies can be traced back to this decision.

The 1964 scheme

After Sir Thomas Beecham’s death in 1961, in order to replace his knowledge and experience adequately, the trustees made an application to the High Court to establish a Scheme for the proper regulation of the Trust. As approved on 8 June 1964, it provided for the addition of a panel of three advisers.

The first Advisers were: Sir Thomas Armstrong (then Principal of the Royal Academy of Music); Major Norman Millar (for many years Sir Thomas Beecham’s private secretary); and Felix Aprahamian (the writer and music critic). In 1975, following Philip Emanuel’s death, Major Millar succeeded him as a trustee, and Robert Threlfall, the Trust’s assistant archivist, was appointed an adviser.

By 1979, the Trust had an income of over £60,000 per annum. It became increasingly clear to the trustees that it was difficult for Barclays Bank to administer in a satisfactory and cost-effective way what had become an important grant-making foundation active in every aspect of music promotion. At Sir Thomas Armstrong’s suggestion, the bank retired in favour of the Musicians Benevolent Fund.

In 1989, Meredith Davies, the distinguished conductor and former Principal of the Trinity College of Music, was appointed an adviser, and became a trustee in 1991, following the death of Norman Millar.

The 1991 scheme

In 1991, at the request of the Trustees the Charity Commission made a second Scheme which permitted the Trust to undertake additional activities, particularly in the field of education; and to appoint two additional advisers making a total of five.

The additional places were filled immediately by Lionel Carley, the Trust’s archivist for 25 years; and Robert Montgomery, a former chief executive of the Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society. A fifth adviser – the conductor, David Lloyd-Jones – was appointed in 1996.

In 1997, David Lloyd-Jones was appointed a Trustee and chairman in succession to Meredith Davies, who had decided to retire.

The Trust’s income is derived from royalties, hire fees and performing rights payments arising from Delius’s music, royalties from the sale of recordings which the Trust has financed, and income from investments purchased with accumulated income.

The 1997 scheme

In 1996, the implementation in the UK of EU Directive 93/98/EEC on harmonisation of copyright resulted in the revival of copyright in the works of Delius in the UK and the rest of the EC Area until December 2004. In view of possible surplus funds arising from this and the earlier completion of the Collected Edition, the Trustees applied to the Charity Commission for a further Scheme to widen the Trust’s object. On 1 April 1997 the Commissioners approved a third Scheme in much the same terms as previously but with additional provisions: (a) subject to priority for the promotion of Delius’s works, the Trust’s object to include any other British composer born since 1860 to the present day with particular preference for contemporaries of Delius; and (b) the appointment of up to a total of seven advisers.

In implementing these extended objects, the Trustees have adopted a policy of assisting organisations that promote the music of British composers in general rather than particular individuals. Intending applicants should study the Trust’s Guidelines.