It’s funny how your appreciation of a piece of art changes once you know more about the artist’s inspiration for that piece. I watched a wonderful BBC Four documentary about Delius last night. I knew very little about Delius before the programme, and although I had heard a few of his pieces and liked them, I wasn’t familiar with a lot of his repertoire. The documentary made me think that I should certainly seek out more of his work: he was a fascinating character (if not always a likeable person), and his music was rather avant-garde for the time.
At the end of the programme, I remembered that Kate Bush had a piece about Delius on her album ‘Never For Ever’. Listening to it now, with more knowledge, two things struck me: first, Kate did a magnificent job of capturing the sensuous feel of ‘To Be Sung of a Summer Night on the Water’ and ‘Song of Summer’ without making it a pastiche, and second, that Delius himself might have approved and rather liked it. I think that they probably have a certain kind of musical sensibility in common, despite their differences.
Thinking about it, ‘Night Scented Stock’ (one of my favourite tiny gems) could also be inspired by the work of Delius.