Saturday, March 1, 2008

Secrets Encoded in Musical Compositions, WW I

Norman Lebrecht, The Book of Musical Anecdotes. NY: The Free Press, 1985, p. 265.

[Frederick] Delius returned to England from France in 1918 with a new orchestral work for Sir Henry Wood's Prom. concerts. Wood, on meeting Delius was 'deeply distressed with his tired and tragic appearance' and as soon as they reached Wood's house, Mrs Delius insisted that her husband take a rest. Delius, recalled Wood, 'proceeded to unbutton his waistcoat, shirt and top trouser button, and, to my astonishment, pulled out sheet after sheet of manuscript which proved to be his new work, Once Upon a Time (Eventyr). 'What a relief to get it safely to London,' he murmured, and subsided into a chair. 'I, too, am relieved,' whispered Madame Delius. 'I was so afraid they might search him and commandeer it.' They had feared arrest throughout the journey, alarmed by rumours that a conductor in America had been transmitting coded war secrets to Germany in the guise of musical compositions.

[Source: Sir Henry Wood, My Life of Music, 1938.]