Poignant performance for works of talented composers killed in Gallipoli


A First World War commemoration event with an interesting approach is taking place in Warwickshire this week. It will remember the artistic creation of two people who died in the war, and what might have been had they survived.

A press release from the Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum explained that as part of the Gallipoli Music Memorial 2015, the gallery is hosting a free dance performance in the Royal Pump Rooms on Wednesday, 29 April from 6-7pm.

The London Central School of Ballet will perform The Comic Spirit, a short ballet by the Leamington-born pianist, organist, critic and composer William Denis Browne. This will be the first public performance of the ballet, which Browne wrote in 1912.

There will also be the first solo dance setting of Frederick ‘Cleg’ Kelly’s Elegy for Strings: in memoriam Rupert Brooke. An introduction to the performances will be given by Nick Peacey, William Denis Browne’s great-nephew.

Senior Curator Vicki Slade said: “William Denis Browne had a promising career as a composer before the First World War broke out. 100 years after his death at Gallipoli, it is fitting that the first ever performance of his only ballet should be given in his home town.”

This event is free, though places are limited. They must be booked by phoning Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum on 01926 742700, or calling in beforehand.

This event runs in conjunction with Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum’s exhibition A Leamington Musical Meteor: The Life of William Denis Browne (1888-1915) which runs until Sunday, 10 May. The exhibition, which was organised by Nick Peacey for the Gallipoli Music Memorial 2015 project, brings together family archive material alongside compositions by Browne, to celebrate his career.

Browne was born in Leamington on 3 November 1888 and grew up at Lynnwood, a large house on Lillington Road. He attended Greyfriars Preparatory School in the town and Rugby School, before attaining classical scholarship to study at Clare College, Cambridge.

It was there that his talents developed as a performer and composer. After university he was building a successful musical career, with performances at 10 Downing Street and Westminster Cathedral, when the First World War intervened. Browne was killed fighting at Gallipoli on 4 June 1915, aged just 26.

*The Gallipoli Music Memorial 2015 is a unique project looking at the vastness of the First World War through one battle. It will tell the stories of nine men who fought at Gallipoli and will set their wartime experiences against their peacetime lives. All nine men pursued artistic careers, and although they fought for different causes, they were united by their experiences of the battle. The Gallipoli Music Memorial 2015 project is funded by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.



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