Omnibus: Season 2, Episode 1

Song of Summer: Frederick Delius (15 Sep. 1968)

TV Episode  |   |  Documentary, Biography
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Ratings: 8.5/10 from 250 users  
Reviews: 16 user | 8 critic

Traces last 5 years of the life of Frederick Delius through the eyes of a young composer called Eric Fenby.



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Title: Song of Summer: Frederick Delius (15 Sep 1968)

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Episode complete credited cast:
Max Adrian ...
Maureen Pryor ...
Jelka Delius
Christopher Gable ...
Eric Fenby
Percy Grainger
Geraldine Sherman ...
Girl Nextdoor
Norman James ...
Elizabeth Ercy ...


Based on Eric Fenby's 1936 memoir 'Delius as I knew him', it traces the last years of Frederick Delius, and Fenby's dedication in giving up five years of his life to helping the blind, paralysed composer set down the unfinished scores he could hear in his head. Perhaps the finest of the series of biographical films that Ken Russell made for the BBC in the Sixties, Song of Summer is an immensely moving story of sacrifice, idealism and musical genius. Written by Philip Kemp

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15 September 1968 (UK)  »

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Featured in Ken Russell: A Bit of a Devil (2012) See more »

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Russell's Paradox
2 October 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Just caught up with this wonderful piece again. I too met Fenby once (briefly) ~ a lovely man (and a bit shorter than Gable, if I recall).

Am I wrong, or is the film clip Chris G is seen accompanying at the start not 1937's Way Out West? Or does that dance appear in an earlier, silent film by L&H?

And it's always intrigued me that Melbourne's Percy Granger is not given an Aussie accent. Okay, he was of English stock and spent some years there but by the time of the story he was living in the States and was a US citizen. And I know he was a fitness freak but he doesn't look 24 years older than Fenby here! In fact David Collings and Christopher Gable were both born in 1940. The best link between Collings and Granger is that both were born in Brighton ~ Brighton Sussex and Brighton, Victoria respectively.

Enough trivia. My main fascination here is that this film expresses most succinctly what I have often called "(Ken) Russell's Paradox" ~ a question he later asked about Gaudier-Brzeska, Tchaikovsky and many others. How can some great artists live such sordid or cruel ~ at least self-obsessed ~ private lives and still bequeath those moving, inspiring and downright humane works to us mere mortals? Or, as Fenby puts it here "I can't reconcile such hardness with such lovely music?"

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