The Flowers of the Great War Collection: a Gift to the Nation

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The Great War (1914-1918) took the lives of more artists than any other conflict, and changed forever the course of the arts in the early 20th century. Curiously many of those artists, during their war service, created works notable for their serenity and beauty, as they sought to transcend the horrors of the trenches.

The Flowers of War project has recorded and documented many of these lost war-time works from the battlefields, exploring the catalogues of those composers who were killed, in order to bring their music to modern audiences, as an act of measuring and demonstrating the cultural cost of war.

Our primary focus was the recovery of the music written by composer Frederick Septimus Kelly, Australia’s greatest cultural loss of WW1. The Flowers of the Great War collection along with the Tasmanian Symphony’s recently recorded discs of Kelly’s orchestral works, will make up the first complete FS Kelly recorded edition, and will contain explanatory texts drawn from his diaries which document his life before and during the war and well as typeset editions of the music.

In addition, through seven full length concert programs, the Flowers of War explored the composers of a dozen nations, including three programs that also incorporated the images of European painters who died, alongside their musical contemporaries. The project also recorded Popular songs from the Great War that featured in the letters and diaries of Australian soldiers.

In parallel to that program of cultural recovery, two large contemporary works about the Australian experiences in WW1 were also created: The Gallipoli Symphony, commissioned by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, which documented the battle for the Dardenelles from the Turkish, New Zealand and Australian perspectives, and The Diggers’ Requiem co-commissioned by the Australian War Memorial and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, which documented the Australian battles against their German counterparts in France, Belgium and Palestine. These modern reflections by leading Australian and International composers are designed to help understand and reconcile these events.

This project seeks to empower diplomacy as it journeys towards a lasting peace. All hard copies will be given freely as cultural gifts to institutions and between countries - and the contents will be available for free download by the general public.