1968 black-and-white television film co-written, produced, and directed by Ken Russell for the BBC’s Omnibus series which was first broadcast on 15 September 1968.
It portrays the final six years of Frederick Delius’ life, during which Eric Fenby lived with the composer and his wife Jelka as Delius’s amanuensis. The title is borrowed from the Delius tone poem A Song of Summer, which is heard along with other Delius works on the film’s soundtrack. It was based on Eric Fenby’s memoir Delius As I Knew Him (1936, republished in 1966), which recounts his offer to transcribe Frederick Delius’s music from the composer’s dictation. Fenby stayed with the Deliuses on and off for six years, until Delius’s death in 1934. He had immense difficulty dealing with the cantankerous, irascible and impatient composer, although Delius’ conduct might have been the product of his constant pain. Neither party had ever worked this way before, but Fenby was immediately expected to keep up with Delius’s fast pace when dictating, and to make sense of his out-of-tune singing.
The film received wide praise since its first screening, and Ken Russell said it was the best film he ever made and he would not have done a single shot differently.
After seeing this film, Kate was inspired to write and record Delius (Song Of Summer).