Delius was born in Bradford in Yorkshire. He was baptised as "Fritz Theodore Albert Delius",and used the forename Fritz until he was about 40. He was the second of four sons (there were also ten daughters) born to Julius Delius (1822–1901) and his wife Elise Pauline, née Krönig (1838–1929). Delius's parents were born in Bielefeld, Westphalia, of Dutch origin;the family had for some generations been settled in German lands near the Rhine.
Delius' music may be characterized as an English counterpart of French musical impressionism, with more highly romantic undertones, and his rich harmonic and serene melodic lines, as in the two orchestral selections, On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring (1912) and Summer Night on the River (1911), convey a sense of detachment, an idealized picture of something far from everyday realities. All of Delius' work is marked by a subtle chromaticism and a general avoidance of incisive rhythms which give a languid, melancholy atmosphere to even the more animated passages of his music. Other compositions include an opera, Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorf (1907) (A Village Romeo and Juliet); the orchestral works Paris (1900), Appalachia (1903), and Brigg Fair (1908); the concertos for piano and violin; the choral works Sea Drift (1904) and A Mass of Life (1905); and the music for James Elroy Flecker's play Hassan (1922).