A man whose music haD been lost - until now

Frederick Septimus Kelly was a noted pianist and deeply gifted composer, as well as an Olympic gold medal winning rower. Ironically he is hardly remembered even in his own country, probably because he was educated and lived in the UK, rarely returning to Australia.

Kelly is Australia’s most important cultural loss of the Great War. Much of his music – some 36 pieces – have never been played publicly, let alone recorded. A leading figure in London musical society prior to WWI, he joined the British Royal Naval Division and served at Gallipoli and in France where he was killed on the final day of the Battle of the Somme. The Flowers of War project is bringing his music to the world in a brand new double CD, published by the ABC, A Race Against Time.

Kelly was a brilliant pianist (he was Pablo Casal's pianist) and was a leading figure in London musical society prior to WWI, returning to Sydney to perform with the Sydney Symphony in 1911. He joined up with the Royal Naval Division (Churchill’s private army) at the outbreak of war and served with them at Gallipoli, where he wrote his haunting Elegy to Rupert Brooke, his friend and fellow officer. Later in the campaign he wrote the Gallipoli Sonata for the leading violinist Jelly D’Aranyi, for whom Ravel wrote his Tzigane and Bartok both his violin sonatas. Finally in France, he wrote music in the trenches by the light of a candle stub, and on leave before finally being killed in the liberation of Beaumont-Hamel on November 13 1916, one hundred years ago.

A man of many talents

The Somme Lament,  the last music that Kelly wrote, signed 0ctober 28, 1916.

The Somme Lament, the last music that Kelly wrote, signed 0ctober 28, 1916.

Years of detective work, 36 premiere recordings

Chris Latham has invested eight years of his life to research and detective work in this project, tracking down Kelly's original manuscripts in Florence, Frankfurt, Aldeburgh and Scotland as well as Australia. The CDs will present 36 premiere recordings, increasing by six-fold the number of Kelly’s recorded works. The Flowers of War hopes to rewrite Australian musical history to show that we had lost and now found a talent of international significance and to demonstrate the cultural cost of war.

Musicians: Louise Page | soprano
Christina Wilson | mezzosoprano
Tamara-Anna Cislowska & Alan Hicks | piano
Christopher Latham | artistic director & violin

This double CD of Kelly’s music will make him known for the first time in his own country and abroad. It is time for Australia to claim its forgotten son, composer, pianist and athlete.