15 May 2011

Gallipoli sonata to be performed in Canberra

8:30 am on 15 May 2011

A violin sonata composed by an Australian soldier during the Battle of Gallipoli has been found after being lost for more than 80 years.

The work, by Frederick Kelly, will be performed at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra on Sunday.

The ABC reports it was found by Canberra International Music Festival director Chris Latham after years of detective work.

Frederick Kelly was born into a wealthy family in Sydney in 1881 and went to England as a teenager to attend Eton College.

One of the best amateur rowers of the time, he won a gold medal in the 1908 Olympics, and then became a pianist and composer in London.

In 1909 he met Hungarian violinist Jelly D'Aranyi, 16, and they began to play music and perform together.

When war broke out in 1914, Kelly joined the British Royal Naval Division and was sent to Gallipoli. There he wrote an elegy to his friend the poet Rupert Brooke, who died of blood poisoning just before the battle began.

Killed on the Somme

Mr Latham says he then turned his attention to writing a violin sonata for Ms D'Aranyi. He finished it just before the Gallipoli evacuation in 1916 and played it with her in London, but was then sent back to the front in France.

He was killed on the last day of the Somme campaign.

Mr Latham says Ms D'Aranyi played the sonata at his memorial service. She never married and kept his photograph on her piano for the rest of her life.

Mr Latham read about the sonata in recently discovered war diaries and went looking for it in the National Library's collection of Kelly's manuscripts. But it was not there.

He tracked down Ms D'Aranyi's grand-niece through Facebook and discovered she had inherited the manuscript. Last year he flew to Florence, Italy, to bring a copy home.

Mr Latham will perform the sonata with pianist Tamara Anna Cislowska as part of the Canberra International Music Festival.