Opera Scotland

Sea Drift

Music

Frederick Delius (born Bradford, 29 January 1862; died Grez-sur-Loing, 10 June 1934)

Text

Composer

Source

Adapted from poetry anthology Leaves of Grass (various revisions) by Walt Whitman (1819-92)

 

Premieres

First Performance: Essen, 24 May 1906.

First Performance in UK: Sheffield Festival 1908.

First Performance in Scotland: tbc.

 

Background

Sea Drift is an under-appreciated cantata for baritone chorus and orchestra, composed at a time when Delius was living and working in Germany, a culture that seemed to welcome new music by British composers (Ethel Smyth being another case).

The poetry of Walt Whitman was highly popular at this time, and Ralph Vaughan Williams was also at work on an important setting, A Sea Symphony, which was not to be performed until 1910. By that time, Sea Drift had received its British premiere at the Shrffield Festival of Autumn 1908, conducted by Henry Wood. A few weeks later, on 3 December 1908, the North Staffordshire Choral Society sang it at the Victoria Hall, Hanley, under Sir Thomas Beecham. Solo baritone on both occasions was Frederic Austin.

Beecham, always a great advocate of Delius, continued to conduct the work regularly, but it has rather faded from the concert repertoire since his death..

The Cast

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