Frederick Delius in Lesjaskog : a unique event in European music history

‘This place is lovely - hills and sunny slopes with flowered meadows.’

In 1921 Delius‘s health has begun to deteriorate badly. More than ever he longs for the mountain air of Norway. For six weeks that summer he and Jelka stay at the Mølmen Hotel in Lesjaskog. Delius hears about a vacant plot on the hillside and decides to have a cottage built there. In July the following year they are back in Lesjaskog:

‘It was a tremendous moment when we saw our cottage standing quite finished on the hillside... Tomorrow the pianino we hired in Kristiania has to be pulled up by the steep hillside by 2 horses...The view all round is perfectly exquisite and ever changing - and the absolute stillness up here.’

They spend two months there, but it is clear nothing is halting Delius‘s deterioration, both the paralysis and loss of sight are getting worse. But in 1923 they return to their cottage on the Liahovda hillside, arriving 29 June. A month later, the Australian composer Percy Grainger arrives - Delius has asked him to come and help him write down some music, as he is now incapable. On 4 August, Jelka sends a letter with this account of an extraordinary occurrence:   

‘Fred was longing to go up a high mountain back of our hut, because there is a heavenly view on the High Snow-mountains and a great solitude with no human trace up there. So Percy arranged a chair and two poles thro it and straps and ropes for us all three ... and we carried Fred up to the top and down again. It took us 7 1/2 hours. But we came home in triumph at 9 p.m. having been watched from below with telescopes and marvelled at by the inhabitants.’

A good deal of myths have grown up around this trip - including the notion that Delius saw his last Norwegian sunset from the hilltop, which is untrue. But even discounting the anecdotes and myths, this must still be regarded as one of the most extraordinary events in European music history. 

A week later Delius leaves Lesjaskog and Norway for the last time.