Frederick Delius House, Jacksonville University
by Mike Miller
(Mount Dora Florida)
Frederick Delius House Marker
This house is on the campus of Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, Florida. It was the home of Frederick Delius at Solano Grove on the St. Johns River. Delius lived from 1862 to 1934.
Delius was a famous composer. When he was a young man in England, his father wanted to discourage Frederick from becoming a musician so in 1884 he sent him to Florida to manage a citrus plantation south of Mandarin on The St. Johns River.
The old man's plan was a bomb. Young Frederick started hanging around with New York musicians who spent the winters in Jax. The city also had an active arts community, and Delius was fascinated by the African-American musicians he ran into.
In Jacksonville, Delius met Tom Ward who was the organist for a local church. Ward gave Delius music lessons and quickly realized he was teaching a musical genius. Delius wasn't cut out for grove work, and went back to England in 1886. Two years was enough. He wanted to be a composer.
He spent the rest of his life composing in Paris and Germany. Delius was the first European composer to capture African-American rhythms in his musical compositions. He spent his entire life as a composer, but his first published music was "Zum Carnival", published in Jacksonville. A later major work, "Florida Suite", gives a musical impression of the St. Johns River at four different periods of time during a day.
The Delius house was a gift to the University by Mrs. Martha Bullard Richmond. She had rediscovered the decaying old house and purchased it in 1943. It was moved to the campus from Solano Grove in 1961.