Saturday 13 January 2018


I've always loved Bradford-born composer Frederick (nee Fritz) Delius's short but lovely tone poem On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring, so this week's Tales From the Stave on Radio 4 was right up my paradise garden, clarinets going 'cuckoo' and all. 

The piece feels quintessentially English, though - and Donald Trump would like this - its main tune is a Norwegian folk tune borrowed from a piano piece by Fred's friend from the land of fjords, Edvard Grieg. 

Ed took the tune from a gloomy folk tune about a women's drowned baby and turned it into a Norwegian pastoral idyll. Fritz took Ed's tune and turned it into an English (or French) pastoral idyll.

Bells became cuckoos.

Whatever. I love Delius. I love Grieg. I love the English countryside. I've never heard a live cuckoo. And this piece is glorious.

And this was a great BBC programme. 

Cuckoo. Cuckoo. On Clarinet.

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