F S Kelly, Trio in B flat

For violin, violoncello and pianoforte  England, 1911
Edited by Richard Divall
Australian Music Series – MDA047
ISBN 978-0-9925674-6-0 / ISMN 979-0-9009656-6-0


Kelly Trio in B flat_0007   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.

There are mentions of a couple of Trios by Kelly, including one in B minor dated 1911, which is mentioned in his diary note of 17 June 1914, when this Trio was played at Kelly’s sister Mary’s [Masie] home at Bisham Grange Marlow. One of the performers in this particular home event was the composer and violist Frank Bridge, who later taught the young Benjamin Britten. The Trio in B flat major is unusual in that it only contains two movements, the first [Allegro] Legato and the second a Scherzo and Trio in Presto. The Trio is dedicated to the composer’s brother, Thomas Herbert Kelly (1875-1948). The work is in manuscript on nineteen pages of score, including a cover page.