What does being British mean, after all. Frederick Delius's UK connections were so tenuous that he'd fail the Immigration test questions. Born German, he left Bradford as soon as he could get away, fathered a child with a Florida black woman, partied in Paris and paid homage to Grieg in Norway, and wrote music that recalls Debussy. But "British" he became because the nation needed an icon. And when British music circles have heroes, they're fanatical about them. Delius Sea Drift is for me beautiful as abstract music, since I find the poem mawkish even though it's by Walt Whitman. Fortunately Bryn Terfel gives it vigorous, even gruff treatment which lifts it above sentimentality and gives it extraordinary power. Boyo Delius works well! Mark Elder conducted the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.
Elgar's Overture Cockaigne (In London Town) is a regular Proms perennial, but it was good to hear Roger Norrington's warm hearted, lively account, perfectly in tune with the good natured Coronation Ode. Martyn Brabbins conducted Michael Tippett's Suite for the Birthday of Prince Charles, which fitted the mood of optimism at the time the Prince was born. God Save the Queen, Long May She Reign! Even to age 116. Couldn't they have chosen something to praise a woman who has done more for the monarchy than anyone else? Including Princess Diana, who deserves much more attention than she's had this Jubilee year. Mark Anthony Turnage Canon Fever (note one "n", it's a pun) was a reminder thast British music is alive and well. Much quirkier and original than he's been for a while. Some First Night Fanfares disappear without a trace. This one will stay fresh.
Speaking of Britishness, the Olympics and British music, there was some discussion on the BBC Proms site, which I can't track down (might have been pulled). Someone objected to having Beethoven 9 at the Proms on the opening night of the Olympics, because Beethoven wasn't British. "Would the Germans have played British music at the 1936 Olympics opening?" someone asked. But Beethoven transcends national borders. Alle Menschen werden Bruder. That's the real spirit of the BBC Proms and should be of the Olympics, too.