A clip from the 1945 film “Battle for Music” which told the story of the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s trials and tribulations during World War II. Malcolm Sargent conducts Delius’s “La Calinda” for an audience of school children.

Frederick Delius (1862 – 1934) was an English composer. He was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire to a wealthy business family but he resisted attempts to recruit him into the family wool business. He was sent to Florida in the United States in 1884 to manage an orange plantation. He soon neglected his managerial duties, instead dreaming of becoming a professional composer and in 1886 returned to Europe. Having been influenced by African-American music during his short stay in Florida, he began composing. He incorporated the African-American spirituals that he had heard being sung, as well as other non-European musical sounds into his opera Koanga which was first performed in 1904. The story centres on Creole life and features an African prince and voodoo priest who have been enslaved on a Mississippi plantation. Koanga is considered to be the first opera in the European tradition to base much of its melodic material on African-American music. Today’s melody, La Calinda, is the most famous musical passage from the opera.

Delius in 1912

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