Myself, conductor Charles Farncombe, and narrator Svein Sturla Hungnes about to hear På Viddene for the very first time. 


Imagine the extraordinary moment! In the Oslo Concert Hall I sit completely alone, apart from a couple of cameramen at their posts. On stage is the Oslo Philharmonic and conductor Charles Farncombe. Then the enormous energy of the opening of På Viddene is unleashed - for the very first time. No one has ever heard it before! 

In autumn 1980 I arrived in Oslo on a Norwegian scholarship to study for 9 months in connection with my doctoral studies for a thesis on the early music of Delius. At the time the head of music at NRK was Gunnar Rugstad, who was a Sinding specialist. During his Sinding researches Rugstad had uncovered a concert programme that revealed that the På Viddene tone poem (not the melodrama) had been given its first performance in Oslo (then called Christiania) in 1891. Now every January Rugstad had the services of the Oslo Phil at his disposal for a week to make radio and TV programmes. He fancied having them perform the tone poem in January 1981. Around October 1980 he heard that a Delius researcher was on a scholarship in Oslo and he called me in to discuss the idea. 

I saw an opportunity. The original På Viddene - the melodrama from 1888 - had NEVER been performed. Delius had shown it to Grieg, who had correctly pointed out that the narrating voice would be drowned out by the orchestra, so Delius put it away in a drawer. Rugstad bent to my persuasion and I had to get down to three extremely arduous months preparing from Delius's manuscript a new score and writing parts - all by hand. In January 1981 I got my reward. With Charles Farncombe on stage with the Oslo Phil and with Svein Sturla Hungnes doing the narration, I sat pretty much alone in the Oslo Konserthus and heard music by Delius that no-one - not even the composer - had heard before.

The easily accessible music, some of it stirring nature evocations, went down very well and it was decided to make the recording the highlight of the NRK's National Day programme on May 17th, 1983. A very talented film photographer Svein Bæren was given the task of providing footage from Jotunheimen and Hardangervidda to accompany parts of the music.

 The May 17th premiere was received very well indeed, and led to a repeat showing in August that year.