Delius was born in 1862, twenty-four years before the signing in 1886 of the Berne Convention, the international convention for the protection of literary and artistic works of which Great Britain was a founder member.
During Delius's lifetime came the birth of the record industry, the development of exercising the performing right, the introduction of the mechanical right, and the advent of films and broadcasting. Robert Montgomery and Robert Threlfall chronicle Delius's dealings with his publishers and the Performing Right Society (PRS) through his copious correspondence.
Virtually all of the very early letters have been lost, but his correspondence in German with Harmonie Verlag of Berlin, Tischer & Jagenberg of Cologne, and Universal Edition of Vienna is almost complete.
This book provides a selection of translations of these letters, most of which have never been seen before, and offers a unique insight into how a leading twentieth-century composer earned his living from composition in the changing environment of the world of music.
Some of the problems that Delius encountered were because the administrative procedures brought in by Berne were in their infancy. Equally important in building a picture of Delius's publishing affairs is the Delius file in the PRS archive, to which Jelka Delius wrote in English, and which contains both sides of the correspondence. The book also covers the period after Delius's death when the Delius Trust, as the legal representative of his estate, took over responsibility for administering copyrights and promoting his music.
The book provides a valuable model for the methodology involved in presenting a history of music publishing.
It will provide a useful springboard for scholars to look at other composers in terms of their published material and how this relates to the general dissemination of their work.