Clive Critchett (2018)

Proportion and the esoteric in the music of Frederick Delius

Clive CritchettClive’s thesis examines the extent to which Golden Section and other proportioning techniques determine both the overall and detailed structures of Delius’ music.

It also investigates the relation between such techniques and Delius’ interest in the esoteric ideas that were a feature of intellectual and cultural thought in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The latter includes a survey and scrutiny of Golden Section techniques that occur in the paintings of artists of Paul Gaugin’s circle during the 1890’s, and with whom Delius was associated.

Preliminary analyses of Delius’ proportioning techniques indicated a widespread use of  the Golden Section (GS) in establishing the overall form of, and proportions within his large-scale works.

Delius’ initial experiments with both GS and other proportions date from his early Paris years (1888- 1892) – and several of his works written during this period show an intricate knowledge of, and an experimentation with GS techniques.

Furthermore, a survey of the texts of Delius’ early opera and other texts reveal a considerable interest in both Neoplatonism and Hermeticism. Thus, for example, his first opera, Irmelin, combines both alchemical allegory with a symbolic and dramatic use of golden section structuring.