F S Kelly, Mirrors

The Unpublished Songs – Two. For voice and piano.
Edited by Richard Divall
Australian Music Series – MDA023
ISBN 978-0-9925672-2-4 / ISMN 979-0-9009642-2-9


MDA023 Kelly Mirrors_0008    MDA023 pic2

Australian Frederick Septimus Kelly’s brief life uniquely encompassed the highest levels in sport (he won gold for Britain as a rower at the 1908 Olympics) and music (as pianist, composer, conductor and patron). It ended with a hero’s death. Kelly was a Lieutenant- Commander in the Royal Naval Division’s Hood Battalion. He was twice at Gallipoli, where he was wounded, receiving the DSC for his bravery under fire. He was with the burial party when Rupert Brooke (1887-1915) was interred on the island of Skyros, the poet having died as the Royal Naval Division was making its way to the Dardanelles. Devastated by this loss, Kelly wrote his Elegy: in memoriam Rupert Brooke. He was killed during one of the last great battles of the Somme at Beucourt-sur-Ancre, on 13 November 1916 when he was shot in the head while taking a machinegun post.

MDA023 pic1Kelly was born in Sydney on 29 May 1881, into a wealthy Irish family. Thomas Hussey Kelly, father of F S Kelly, was a wool broker and company director and a mining promoter. From 1893 he studied at Eton where he developed a precocious talent in both rowing and piano.

From 1903 to 1908 Kelly was a student at Das Hoch’sche Konservatorium at Frankfurt- am-Main where he studied composition under Iwan Knorr – Percy Grainger’s teacher, and piano with Ernst Engesser. Ten of his songs were published in 1910 and 1913 by Schott and Co, but there are about seven further songs that have remained unpublished, and the songs in this series are some of them. Kelly was fond of setting the poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Shakespeare and Wordsworth, and also of the American poet Logan Pearsall Smith (1865-1948). This brief but deeply moving song, Mirrors is set to a text by that poet.