Frederick Delius (1862-1934) – The Walk to the Paradise Garden,
from “A Village Romeo and Juliet”
Delius’s Dad actively supported music – he helped to organise the
Hallé Bradford Subscription Concerts, where I (much later!)
cut my musical milk teeth. However, what he did not support
was a musical career for his talented son. Although “Fred” tried,
he couldn’t hack it in the woollen business. Eventually, he persuaded
his father to let him manage an orange plantation in Florida. “Manage”
turned out to be a euphemism for “look after the music studies and
let the oranges look after themselves”. From there he wormed his way
towards his goal, becoming one of the most quintessentially English
composers ever to be born of German parents.
For years I had trouble marrying that evocative title with the mood
of this music. Eventually, I had a bright – if, with hindsight, rather
obvious – idea. I checked the dramatic context, and suddenly it all
dropped into place. So, we need to get one thing absolutely clear:
the “Paradise Garden”, far from being some soft-focus horticultural
heaven, is in fact a pub - and a rather dilapidated
one at that. In the opera, this enchanting intermezzo covers the scene
change to the said hostelry, at which the fugitive lovers will finally
decide to do away with themselves – making this “walk” anything but
a carefree stroll amid idyllic nature.
The dominant theme, zipping aloft then faltering, reflects the lovers’
quandary: shall we try to run away, or put ourselves beyond capture?
Alternating languor and ardour, Delius drenches his score in perfumed
harmonies and sultry textures, evoking a stifling humidity such as
was never endured, not even by Debussy’s Faun.
© Paul Serotsky 2006, 2007
© Paul Serotsky
29, Carr Street,
for use apply. Details here
Copyright in these notes is retained by the author without whose prior written permission they may not be used, reproduced, or kept in any form of data storage system. Permission for use will generally be granted on application, free of charge subject to the conditions that (a) the author is duly credited, and (b) a donation is made to a charity of the author's choice.