7 November 2013

In remembrance of great composers

As we near Remembrance Day, Classic FM has compiled a list of some of the many composers whose lives were cut short.  We will never know what they would have achieved music-wise if their lives had not been cut short.


Frederick Septimus Kelly (1881-1916)

An Olympic Gold Medal winner for rowing in the 1908 London games, Kelly was commissioned into the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve with his friends, the poet Rupert Brooke and the composer William Denis Browne. 
Kelly was wounded twice at Gallipoli, where he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and reached the rank of lieutenant-commander. At Gallipoli he wrote his scores in his tent at base camp, including his most enduring composition, a tribute to Brooke - Elegy for String Orchestra. 
Kelly himself died aged 35 in the Battle of the Somme.

Dick Kattenberg
The story of this Jewish-Dutch composer is too remarkable not to be told. Dick Kattenburg spent years in hiding during the Second World War. Like Anne Frank, he was eventually betrayed and sent to Auschwitz where he died, some time during 1944. For over half a century only one of his works, a sonata for flute, was known. But then, moved by a rare performance of this piece, Kattenburg’s niece searched the attic of her mother’s house, where, amazingly, she found a box with dozens of other works, most of them of outstanding quality.
Kattenburg’s early pieces are witty, full of lovely tunes, dance rhythms and the occasional blue note. Although he hardly had any musical training, his style developed rapidly during the war, becoming more serious and influenced by Debussy, Stravinsky and Jewish folk music. 
Kattenburgdick1In a tragic effort to preserve his manuscripts he never used the word ‘Jewish’ in his titles, instead substituting ‘Palestinian’ or ‘Romanian’. His chamber music works and songs have recently been recorded for the very first time. You can find short impressions on: http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?

other composers who died young include:
http://listverse.com/2011/02/13/10-great-composers-who-died-young/ (nb Pergolesi d 1736 at the age of only 26).  And not of course forgetting Mozart who only lived to 35.

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