Born Fritz Delius in 1862, he was the fourth child of 14 to a Bradford wool merchant from Germany. His father was a strict disciplinarian and did not support F.Delius’ musical leaning. After education at Bradford Grammar school and international college at Isleworth, London he was sent to work in the family’s wool business. Soon after he went to Florida to diversify the business into Oranges. But, his business partner fell ill and it was in Florida that he took to playing the piano and took lessons in orchestration. He let go of the business and took to becoming a piano teacher. Eventually his father allowed him to go to Leipzig to learn music properly. He was befriended by Norway’s national composer Edward Grieg who intervened in the behalf of Frederick to ask his father to support him in his music learning.
In 1888, he travelled to Paris where he began his musical career, learning from a variety of the new musical sources current in Paris at the time.
In the UK, Sir Thomas Beeching was a great supporter after hearing his famous Appalachia and the walk to the Paradise Garden.
In the 1920s, he was beset by blindness and increasing paralysis, but, with the help of Eric Fenby, he was able to continue composing and finishing off unfinished works.