F S Kelly, Quartet

For horn, violin, viola and pianoforte  Frankfurt, 1904
Edited by Richard Divall
Australian Music Series – MDA043
ISBN 978-0-9925674-2-2 / ISMN 979-0-9009656-2-2


  Kelly Quartet for Horn Vln Vla Pno_0008   MDA024 pic2

Australian F S 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 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.

Kelly was born in SyMDA043 pic2dney 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 (pictured) where he studied composition under Iwan Knorr – Percy Grainger’s teacher, and piano with Ernst Engesser. Kelly kept a daily diary where he commented on his musical colleagues and activities, as well as his wide circle of acquaintances.

The Quartet in E flat majoMDA043 pic1r was completed on 18 November 1904, at his lodgings at Im Sachsenlager 5 in Frankfurt-am-Main, where he was studying composition with Iwan Knorr (right). A short work of only thirty-four bars with several repeats, it is sensitively written for French Horn, Violin, Viola and Pianoforte on only three pages of manuscript. Like his later Intermezzo for Orchestra, composed two years later in 1906, it is a well-constructed chamber piece. I know of no references to the work being performed in Kelly’s diaries. However the young Kelly, aged twenty-three at the time would have taken part in many student performances at the Frankfurt Conservatorium, possibly including this work. Later reviews in London’s The Times of his English concerts are more than favourable on his keyboard technique and his natural musicianship.