The Flowers of War

Community Arts & Cultural Development

FS Kelly Studies and Monographs

To release a CD of FS Kelly’s complete Studies and Monographs, and to include that recording in the Flowers of the Great War publication.

Days Left

I work as Artist in Residence at the Australian War Memorial and this output is called the Flowers of War project. As part of our work on the Great War, we focused on the cultural recovery of works by composers from all sides who were killed, especially the Australian composer, Frederick Septimus Kelly.

This release of FS Kelly’s complete Studies and Monographs on the Toccata Classics label will be the first recording of his most significant works for piano, and show the influences of Chopin, Schumann, Brahms, Rachmaninoff, Scriabin and Ravel and Debussy, but also a very individual and varied voice, with deep sentiment.

These works are a vital addition to Kelly’s recorded catalogue, revealing the contribution of his virtuosic works to the Australian piano repertoire. These two collections of works are his response to both Chopin’s and Scriabin’s 24 Preludes and 12 Studies.

‘Sep’ Kelly is a Ralph Vaughan-Williams level talent who comes from a period when Australia had very few composers. He studied alongside Percy Grainger in Frankfurt and is probably the next most important composer from this period after Percy. Over time his works will become increasingly acknowledged as constituting an important body of Australian music, especially for pianists.

The 24 Monographs are piano miniatures from 1 to 5 mins each, that range from simple gems to dazzlingly virtuosic, which are likely to become useful in examinations or educational contexts. Likewise the 12 Studies are showcases for virtuosity and expression, displaying a wide range of styles and moods, and will become staples of Australian pianists looking for bold Australian romantic piano music.

The sheet music and recordings are contained on a data card, in the back of the Flowers of the Great War publication which is being given out to Australia’s main cultural and collecting institutions. The music will soon be available for free on line.

The donations will help cover costs in the recording and distribution of the CDs, and will support the printing and distribution costs of the Flowers of the Great War publication. This activity will help to bring lost music back to life, from a period in Australian history when there was little being written. It is truly surprising that a talent as significant as Septimus Kelly, could remain largely undiscovered until 100 years after his death, and then for the music to be so historically significant.

Kelly was killed and buried in the Somme in November of 1916. It is past time for us to claim him and through his music, bring him home.

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The Flowers of War is a pacifistic project that measures the cultural costs of war, by creating potent symbols of shared loss in order to empower Australia’s ongoing diplomatic relationships.

From 2014 to the present the project has presented concerts in, or with, the following countries: France, Germany, Belgium, UK, Turkey, NZ, Holland and Austria. Australian partners include the Australian War Memorial, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the National Gallery and the National Library of Australia.

Recordings created include the first portrait CDs of Frederick Septimus Kelly, Sacrifice (a book and CD measuring the creative losses in the Somme) and the Gallipoli Symphony. Future recordings include a DVD on Monet’s wartime paintings, The Healers (an opera about the Nurses in WW1) and the Diggers’ Requiem, the second in a planned series of “Peace Symphonies”.

Christopher Latham was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Canberra, was Artist of the Year during Canberra’s Centenary year in 2013, has received the French award of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters and is artist-in-residence at the Australian War Memorial (2017-21), the first musician in that role.


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