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Sunday Night Journal — November 2, 2008

Music of the Week: Delius - On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring

Many years ago, roughly 1970, I had an LP that included this and several more of Delius’s more familiar orchestral works. Although I thought the music somewhat bland and shapeless, I came to like it, but more as a sort of tranquilizer than as music properly speaking; it was very peaceful and for twenty minutes or so took me away from the very stressful life I was leading to a much nicer place, a place of green pastoral beauty and running streams.

Somewhere in that chaotic period the LP got away from me, and I don’t think I heard Delius again until recently, when, in a bout of nostalgia, I got this collection from eMusic. So far I haven’t gotten past the first piece, because I keep wanting to hear it again. What absolutely beautiful music—a pure, open sweetness to which the title is perfectly suited (although I admit I’ve never heard a cuckoo). You can hear it in this audio-only YouTube clip:

If you haven’t heard it before, it may not grab you right away, but give it a chance.



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