My Letters to Eric Fenby

I am sad to say that I never met Dr. Fenby, but I wrote him two letters during his later years to express my appreciation for his work.

November 20, 1989

Dr. Eric Fenby, O.B.E.
c/o The Delius Trust
London   England

Dear Dr. Fenby,

I am writing this letter to express to you my deepest and sincerest thanks for your great gifts to the world of music. Your example of selfless dedication to your calling and to your art is and will always be an inspiration to me.

I will never tire of reading your reminiscences of working with Delius, and will always spend happy hours enjoying the music that you helped him preserve for the ages. I would certainly like to hear more of your own compositions, and will seek to have them performed as often as possible.

I am an amateur pianist and composer who sees the seed of truth in Delius' stricture that "an artist must never marry." Although I have not produced much music, I live happily with my wife and two children. I've been a devoted admirer of Delius' music since 1969, and visited Solano Grove in 1972. I feel a certain kinship with him and with you after that solitary experience. Currently, I am accompanist for a children's choir at my church and also sing in the Adult Choir. I plan to write some things for the choir and am also working on a short instrumental piece, "On Marlotte Road" which is inspired by your account of an evening walk with Delius.

I am hoping to travel to Florida for the 1990 Delius Festival - this would be my first. It would be such a great honor and privilege to meet you. I hope that you will find it possible to come.

Dr. Fenby, thank you again for your lifelong service to music. May God richly bless you and your family during this Christmas season and throughout the coming year.

Sincerely Yours,

Bill Thompson

May 15, 1993

Dr. Eric Fenby
Scarborough, N. Yorkshire  England

Dear Dr. Fenby,

Greetings from Texas! I hope this letter finds you well. I obtained your address from the Delius Association in Jacksonville. I am enclosing a copy of a letter I sent to you in 1989 in care of the Delius Trust, in the event that it might not have found its way to you then. Let me reiterate that to me, you are one of music's greatest heroes. Your life's work is an inspiration to me and countless others around the world.

I am writing this letter to express to you my views on the restoration and recording of Delius' unpublished works. Having read about many of these works for so many years, it was extremely gratifying to finally hear some of them when they appeared on the "American Rhapsody" compact disc. Even with such flaws as they may be said to contain, to me they are treasured glimpses into the development of Delius' art. The "American Rhapsody" of 1896 is of particular interest to us here in America, and hearing Delius' sensitive setting of "Dixie" would bring a lump to the throat of any Southerner. "Folkeraadet", "Spring Morning", and "Paa Vidderne" were also immediate favorites of mine. It was well worth the wait to hear them. Now I would like to hear more of the early Delius.

In The American Source of Delius' Style, Philip Jones gave an overview of the incomplete score of "Hiawatha." The musical examples are tantalizing, and I long to hear an orchestral realization of this work. May I be so bold as to suggest that you oversee and direct a reconstruction of "Hiawatha"? I believe that if you were involved in the restoration, the resulting piece "by Frederick Delius, arranged by Eric Fenby" would be another "favorite" of Delians around the world! It would also attract new American listeners to Delius' work because of the Longfellow subject matter.

Please consider this sincere suggestion. At the minimum, I implore you to reconsider your objections to the performance of the unpublished Delius works, and to give these efforts your blessing. I do not believe that restoration and publication of a work like "Hiawatha" tarnishes the image of the composer of "Sea Drift" and the many other masterpieces. On the contrary, by filling in another "piece of the puzzle" it can only help us to a more complete understanding of Delius and his art. I truly hope that you will not only sanction these projects, but give them the benefit of your personal involvement.

Thank you so much for reading this. I would treasure your response and am enclosing a postal coupon for that purpose. Best wishes to you and your family.

Sincerely yours,

Bill Thompson

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