Frederick Theodore Albert Delius, CH (29 January 1862 – 10 June 1934) was an English composer. Born in the north of England to a prosperous mercantile family, he resisted attempts to recruit him to commerce. He was sent to Florida in the United States in 1884 to manage an orange plantation. There he soon neglected his managerial duties, and in 1886 returned to Europe. Having been influenced by African-American music during his short stay in Florida, he began composing. After a brief period of formal musical study in Germany beginning in 1886, he embarked on a full-time career as a composer in Paris and then in nearby Grez-sur-Loing, where he and his wife Jelka lived for the rest of their lives, except during the First World War.
After leaving Leipzig in 1888, Delius moved to Paris where his uncle, Theodore, took him under his wing and looked after him socially and financially. Over the next eight years, Delius befriended many writers and artists, including August Strindberg, Edvard Munch and Paul Gauguin. He mixed very little with French musicians, although Florent Schmitt arranged the piano scores of Delius’s first two operas, Irmelin and The Magic Fountain (Ravel later did the same for his verismo opera Margot la rouge). As a result, his music never became known in France.[n 7] Delius’s biographer Diana McVeagh says of these years that Delius ”was found to be attractive, warm-hearted, spontaneous, and amorous.” It is generally believed that during this period he contracted the syphilis that caused the collapse of his health in later years.