Brigg Fair: An English Rhapsody (composed 1907) is indebted to the work of Delius’s friend, fellow composer and folksong collector, Percy Grainger. Grainger recorded a performance of the folksong 'Brigg Fair' in the Lincolnshire market town of Brigg in 1906. The performer, a seventy-two-year-old bailiff named Joseph Taylor, only recited two verses, but Grainger constructed a further four from other folksongs to create a six-verse setting for unaccompanied solo tenor and mixed chorus. Delius was so impressed with the setting that he decided to write his own version, making Grainger the dedicatee. The title of 'rhapsody' – implying a sense of improvisation – notwithstanding, the work is a tightly structured set of orchestral variations. While the complete autograph score of the work is lost, there remain a number of manuscript sketches prepared by the composer, as well as Grainger’s original recording of Joseph Taylor’s performance.
- Article by:
- Joanna Bullivant
- Musical style, Performance and reception
Joanna Bullivant explores how Delius’s compositions were brought to life by various interpreters. Did he give his performers enough information and how important are the contributions made by the famous musicians with whom he worked?