F S Kelly, Serenade Opus 7

For flute, horn, harp and strings  England, 1914
Edited by Richard Divall
Australian Music Series – MDA044
ISBN 978-0-9925674-3-9 / ISMN 979-0-9009656-3-9


Kelly Serenade Flute Opus 7 1914_0009   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 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. Kelly kept a daily diary where he commented on his musical colleagues and activities, as well as his wide circle of acquaintances.

The genesis of Kelly’s SerenadeMDA044 pic1 for solo flute, horn, harp and strings began on a trip to Australia from Egypt on the S.S. Orontes. After visiting his composition teacher Iwan Knorr in Frankfurt in November 1910, Kelly embarked and travelled down the Arabian Gulf before 10 January of the following year. His diary entry of the 13th notes that, after passing Aden he had come to admire the Australian flautist and fellow passenger John Lemmone (1861-1949). The entry on the 23rd of the same month mentions that the composer had begun work on the Menuet of the Serenade, a work that appears to have been inspiredby the playing of Lemmone. The flautist, born in Australia of Greek ancestry, had a distinguished career, often touring with the Australian soprano Dame Nellie Melba, a collaboration that saw Lemmone become a close friend and confidante of the diva. Lemmone and Melba are pictured below, ‘on holidays’ at Bilgola, Sydney.MDA044 pic2