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Delius's Red Notebook: Transcription and critical analysis

posted on 2023-09-01, 14:24 authored by Roger J. Buckley
The subject of this thesis is the Red Notebook, an early diary and commonplace book of the composer Delius. Of the 13 surviving notebooks of Delius, this is the last to receive a thorough analysis. The thesis aims to place this significant primary source material within the public domain. Two research questions were posed at the outset of the work: 1. Can all or most of the entries in Delius’s Red Notebook be deciphered and interpreted? 2. What can be learned from the Red Notebook about Delius’s early maturity, and of his relationships, lifestyle, ambitions, the influences of people and places on his artistic sensibilities, and, specifically, how does this knowledge support the contention, advanced in this thesis, that in his creative work he evoked the Sublime? The thesis is presented in two volumes. Volume 1 consists of facsimiles, transcriptions and commentaries on each page of the Red Notebook carrying material of any kind. Volume 2 consists of an essay, ‘The Sublime and Delius’. As already mentioned, I travelled to the University of Melbourne, Australia, to examine the Red Notebook at first hand. I established the original structure of the Notebook, and advised on corrections to the structure then current. All further analytical work was undertaken using a professional quality colour photographic copy in conjunction with the copious notes that I made in Melbourne. Further fieldwork involved three visits to Norway. The total of 40 days that I spent there allowed me to retrace major parts of the journeys that Delius undertook in 1887, 1889 and 1891, these journeys constituting the most important of the five travel diaries contained in the Red Notebook. This direct engagement with the terrain proved essential to my interpretation of the three Norwegian diaries. The analysis of the Red Notebook has produced a large volume of new information concerning Delius’s activities, his friendships and the artistic and philosophical imperatives that concerned him as he matured in his twenties. Taken with previous studies, and other work known to be in hand, it should facilitate a better understanding of one of the most interesting of late 19th / early 20th century artistic personalities. The analysis has also confirmed my original contention that, consciously or otherwise, Delius evoked the Sublime in his musical creations.



Anglia Ruskin University

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