‘Delius – My Hero’, by Howard Blake

HOWARD BLAKE – composer; At home; London, UK; 21 March 2014; Photo credit: © CLIVE BARDA/ArenaPAL;

Readers of BBC Music Magazine may have seen, in the December 2023 issue, a short piece entitled ‘My Hero by Howard Blake’, on the magic of Delius.

Blake begins by talking about how the Royal Academy of Music in the late 1950s was ‘fairly stiff and starchy’ and not keen to explore new musical worlds. He describes how, one day, he heard On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring on the radio and thought ‘Here is an English composer with a totally original style and harmonic language. Why isn’t this incredible music being taught to us at the Academy?’

Blake goes on to say how he has been a fan of the composer ever since, citing
Delius’s original harmonic structures, ‘way out’ harmonies which creep over into
jazz, and his passion for the countryside. He pays tribute to Sir Thomas Beecham,
without whom it is possible that Delius’s music would never have been heard.