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Song of Summer


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greek
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« on: April 21, 2022, 07:03:04 am »

Kenneth Russell made quite a number of films for television about the lives of composers. Some are more moving than others. This one is about Delius and his young amanuensis Eric Fenby.



Made in 1968, with Christopher Gable as Eric Fenby and Max Adrian as Frederick Delius.

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Albion
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« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2022, 10:19:31 am »

Ken Russell was wildly inconsistent. I think his "The Devils" (1971) is a great film and "Tommy" (1975) is also splendid, but he did churn out some pure crud, eg. "The Lair of the White Worm" (1988) and his production of Sullivan's "Princess Ida" in 1992 was a total unmitigated disaster for ENO. The Delius is possibly the best of his composer-orientated films.
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"A piece is worth your attention, and is itself for you praiseworthy, if it makes you feel you have not wasted your time over it." (Sydney Grew, 1922)
patmos.beje
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« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2022, 11:44:15 pm »


Song of Summer is based on the memoirs of Eric Fenby Delius as I knew him.  I recall meeting Eric Fenby in October 1975.

I used to love the music of Delius when I was a teenager. Song of Summer is my favourite of Ken Russell's composer films.  I saw his 'Mahler' at the cinema in the 1970s.

In 1975 I visited friends of my mother who lived in Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire.  I was 15 at the time. I listened to Delius a lot and loved his Concertos for Violin, Cello and Violin and Cello as well as some of his short orchestral pieces.  I remember listening to the Cello Concerto on the train from Glasgow to London.  My mother's friends knew the former Vice principal of the Royal Academy of Music and he arranged for me to visit the institution for a day.

I was enthralled by the library and spent some time reading the Memoirs of Eugenie Schumann which fascinated me.  On entering the institution I noticed that one of the teachers was Professor Eric Fenby.  I had a book on Delius by him.  On speaking to the librarian she told me that Eric Fenby was very approachable and that I could speak to him if I caught him between students. So I did and obtained his autograph.

I only spoke to him for a few minutes and my conversation with him was about Delius.  At that time I did not really appreciate what Eric Fenby had done for Delius in volunteering to be his amanuensis.  I recall asking him if he liked Delius.  He did not answer me and that made an impression upon me.  Shortly afterwards I purchased and read Fenby's Delius as I knew him.  I remember reaching a conclusion as to why Fenby never answered my question.  It was too simple a question.  Delius, although I loved his music at that time, was not, to my mind, a likeable person. I suspect some of the reasons that I found disagreeable about Delius may have been shared by Eric Fenby.  However, I am speculating.  Eric Fenby made a historic and noble gesture in helping Delius which is to be greatly admired.

Today I am much more likely to listen to the music of Percy Grainger than Delius.  I remember the episode from Delius as I knew him of Grainger and the tennis ball.  I was pleased to see it re-enacted in Russell's Song of Summer.


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« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2022, 05:23:49 am »

pure crud

Lisztomania is another such.
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greek
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« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2022, 05:26:59 am »


Song of Summer is based on the memoirs of Eric Fenby Delius as I knew him.  I recall meeting Eric Fenby in October 1975.

Thanks for your reminiscence of Eric Fenby. There is another book about Delius that I like, written by one of his many sisters. It's called Memories of my Brother or something like that - should be available at archive.org.
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« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2022, 03:21:36 pm »

He (Ken Russell) put in a word for Havergal Brian,I recall! I'm,kind of,glad he didn't make a movie about him,though!! I suppose he draws attention to these composers,but I often wonder whether it actually has (with the notable exception of Song of Summer) a positive effect! Ken Russell likes Havergal brian? Oh dear,the nay sayer's go! (Rolling their eyes!) I do like some of the music of Delius. My favourite recordings are almost always those made by Sir Thomas Beecham! He seems to have some innate understanding of his music which others lack. The "Beecham magic" as they refer to it! And the glorious Rpo! A pity he didn't get to record more of the music in stereo. I'm not so keen on some of the shorter pieces and choral music he did record in stereo. But then again,the old mono recording's merely add that layer of nostalgia for a man in my age group ( Okay,I'm not that old! Grin)! And I don't think parts of North Country Sketches (my favourite score by Delius) would sound quite as bleak & atmospheric in stereo! Eventyr wouldn't sound quite so spooky & mysterious (another favourite) and the same goes for In a Summer Garden,which might even get switched off in an SACD digital recording with all the bells & whistles of modern recording technolgy! It sounds wonderfully mysterious in Beecham's old recordings! That said,not even Beecham can induce me to endure that Cuckoo!! Roll Eyes Grin Barbirolli comes closest (if not,just as good!) with his recording of Appalachia & Brigg Fair! His recording of Appalachia is at least the equal of Beecham's recording & in stereo! Some might say the finer! I like both! But Appalachia goes on a bit for my liking! (I quite like it,now and again! I only wish Barbirolli had been able to record North Country Sketches & Eventyr! I quite like A Village Romeo & Juliet,too! I don't listen to it that often (it goes on a bit!) but it has an odd atmosphere unlike any other English opera I can think of & there is some lovely music in there! Beecham's recording with it's quaint mannered vocals (all those rolled 'r's'!) is not for the faint hearted! Shocked Roll Eyes Grin ( Meredith Davies (emi) is the best & Mackerras is very good! The old Argo set has a nice booklet! I sold it at the market,though!! Roll Eyes Sad Grin)

I haven't seen the film (and I'm not sure I want to!) but I do remember enjoying the original short novel,The Lair of the White Worm by Bram Stoker,when I was a youngster. I actually preferred it to Dracula,which my mother bought for me for my birthday (or Xmas?) knowing I had been enjoying The Bram Stoker bedside companion (edited by Peter Haining) from our local library! I remember her saying that she was embarassed because there was a photo of Bela Lugosi baring his fangs on the front cover! Shocked Grin (My Oxford edition of She by Rider Haggard has Ursula Andress! Shocked I remember my dismay at finding the novel was in the form of diaries and letters! (It begins well,with a trip to Dracula's castle in Transylvania). The Lair of the White Worm (his final novel,I believe?) has been written off by some critics as the product of failing creative powers!

On a positive note! Thanks to our local library my mother didn't have to queue at the counter with Fu Manchu novels (Sax Rohmer)! Shocked
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