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George Butterworth (Musician-died 1916)

26 Mar 18 - 01:51 PM (#3913305)
Subject: George Butterworth
From: Dave the Gnome

Just back from a concert in York. While walking from my hotel on the Mount this morning I came across a blue plaque to George Butterworth, Music composer and folk song arranger, who died at teh Somme in 1916. I didn't know anything about him so looked him up when I got home and found this lovely tribute on You Tube. All sorts of other stuff as well, all very enjoyable. Am I on my own in not knowing about him?



26 Mar 18 - 02:02 PM (#3913309)
Subject: RE: George Butterworth
From: GUEST,Ed

No Dave, you're not alone.

I suppose he's well known amongst those of us interested in the folk influenced composers of the Edwardian era, but that's a very small percentage of the general populous...

26 Mar 18 - 02:40 PM (#3913320)
Subject: RE: George Butterworth
From: Steve Shaw

I suppose his two most famous pieces are the tone poems A Shropshire Lad and The Banks Of Green Willow. He did write some splendid songs too. He was a friend of Vaughan Williams. A wonderful talent wasted in battle.

26 Mar 18 - 02:53 PM (#3913324)
Subject: RE: George Butterworth
From: Steve Shaw

I'm no expert in these things but I understand that The Banks of Green Willow uses melodies from two folk songs, one the name of the piece and the other a tune called Green Bushes. It's a truly lovely piece of music. You'll probably realise that you know it when you hear it.

26 Mar 18 - 03:06 PM (#3913327)
Subject: RE: George Butterworth (Musician-died 1916)
From: GUEST,Joe G

I'm a huge fan of Butterworth and I think he would have gone on to be one of our greatest composers had he not been killed in WW1 - up there with RVW and Elgar. A few days after we moved to York in 2016 I was amazed to come across the plaque you mention whilst looking for my new doctor's surgery. The date was Nov 11. A moment of my life I will never forget.

26 Mar 18 - 03:54 PM (#3913337)
Subject: RE: George Butterworth (Musician-died 1916)
From: gillymor

What could have been. In addition to the above mentioned works I've always enjoyed his Orchedtral Fantasia which seems to have a strong Vaughn Williams influence.

26 Mar 18 - 06:17 PM (#3913350)
Subject: RE: George Butterworth (Musician-died 1916)
From: Brian Peters

Butterworth's 'Banks of Green Willow' is a truly beautiful work. It does indeed include the melody of 'Green Bushes', but also two different variants of BOGW, one major and one modal - the modal one is from David Clements of Basingstoke recorded in 1909 (bear with Mr Clements, he takes a while to get into it):

Clements' version

Butterworth was a good friend of Cecil Sharp and danced in Sharp's demonstration morris dance side. He was one of four of the team killed at the Somme. Sharp was devastated.

26 Mar 18 - 07:04 PM (#3913359)
Subject: RE: George Butterworth (Musician-died 1916)
From: JP2

As a Shropshire Lad by birth and a Morris Musician I'd heard of George Butterworth but knew vey little about his demise.

Then one day about eight years ago we fetched up in our Motorhone in a town called Doullens to stay the night on an "Aire",a parking space where MHs are allowed to stay.

We wandered up to the Office Touristique and in a leaflet about the Town Hall I noticed the photo of a painting hanging in said same Town Hall of a gentleman quite clearly in Cotswold kit!!!!

Our very own G.B.who fell I believe at Pozieres,near to Doullens.

It's interesting that of all the British Military figures the citizens of Doullens could have chosen they chose a Morris Dancing composer!!

His name,alongside my namesake and great-uncle,Ernest John Price,is commemorated on the great memorial at Thiepval.

I would like to report that we've seen the painting in the flesh but malheureusement the Town Hall works on very restricted opening hours and our visits have never coincided yet!

But we live in hope!


27 Mar 18 - 05:13 AM (#3913402)
Subject: RE: George Butterworth (Musician-died 1916)
From: GUEST,Peter Cripps

Butterworth is also commemorated by the 'Butterworth Door' at Deerhurst Church in Gloucestershire. His grandfather was vicar of Deerhurst for many years.

27 Mar 18 - 06:43 AM (#3913420)
Subject: RE: George Butterworth (Musician-died 1916)
From: GUEST,henryp

George Butterworth's death is the subject of John Conolly's song "Old Men Sing Love Songs".

Old Men Sing Love Songs

The fifth of August is also the date of Brigg Fair.

27 Mar 18 - 06:47 AM (#3913421)
Subject: RE: George Butterworth (Musician-died 1916)
From: GUEST,John Bowden (not a typo!)

There's some (silent) film of Butterworth dancing here:

and here (With an inappropriate musical backing!), together with Cecil and Maude:

There are some more details about the singers he collected the songs from here:

27 Mar 18 - 06:52 AM (#3913422)
Subject: RE: George Butterworth (Musician-died 1916)
From: GUEST,henryp

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Men Sing Love Songs John Conolly
From: GUEST,Henry Date: 15 Sep 04 - 03:31 PM

Bill and Dave's second CD was called Old Men and Love Songs. The title refers to William Teal of Thetford who used to sing with his neighbour at their garden ends by the pigsties - I think the story comes from Brian Dawson. John Conolly took this image and the death of George Butterworth in the First World War as the two themes for his song.

There are lots of hidden references in the song. John Conolly lives near Brigg, the subject of the song Brigg Fair. Percy Grainger collected the song from Joseph Taylor on 11th April 1905, when he sang it in private after the North Lincolnshire Musical Competition Festival held at the Exchange Hall in Brigg. John Conolly has sung it on the same stage. The song begins, "It was on the fifth of August, the weather being fine". George Butterworth died in the Battle of the Somme in 1915 and his name is inscribed on the Thiepval Memorial. When John Conolly learned that he had died on the fifth of August, it gave him the impetus to write the song.

George Butterworth's most famous piece, and the last one that he heard performed, was The Banks of Green Willow. It has two themes, from the folk songs The Banks of Green Willow, collected by George Butterworth from Mr and Mrs Cranston of Billingshurst in Sussex in June 1907, and Green Bushes, collected from Mr Cranston in July 1907.

John Conolly set his words to music. He thought that he had composed the tune, but when he sang it, Dave said, "I see you set it to Some Tyrant has Stolen my True Love Away." This proves to be a variant of another Sussex song The American King which begins, "The American King stole my true love away". In an extraordinary coincidence, the song was collected from Mrs Cranston in July 1907 by George Butterworth himself.

27 Mar 18 - 09:33 AM (#3913462)
Subject: RE: George Butterworth (Musician-died 1916)
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield

In the centenary year of George Butterworth's death, I did a talk at Sidmouth, Whitby and Hartlepool festivals, and the talk was repeated again last year at Halsway Manor and as a Library Lecture for the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library at Cecil Sharp House House, London, last month. I also contributed two articles, to English Dance & Song and fRoots magazines in 2016.
Derek Schofield

27 Mar 18 - 03:41 PM (#3913545)
Subject: RE: George Butterworth (Musician-died 1916)
From: keberoxu

DtG has a valid point:
George Butterworth's contribution is the sort that
attracts the attention of specialists of different kinds.

Besides what has already been expressed in previous posts,
there is an additional niche of classical music
that takes Butterworth seriously.
That would be the art-song/Lieder specialty.
It was from my art-song professor, a retired accompanist/pianist/coach,
that I learned of George Butterworth.

I remember well the Butterworth setting of "Is My Team Plowing,"
a deceptively gentle-sounding strophic song,
very different from the through-composed, highly emotional
Vaughan-Williams arrangement for voice and string quartet.

The Butterworth setting of that subtle, ambivalent, conflicted dialogue
did not dramatize Housman's lyric,
did not broadcast it out at the audience,
but calmly drew the audience in.

I can still hear my professor coaching and teaching
a young baritone in that very song,
suggesting how he might express in tone, timbre, and pacing,
the difference between the querying discontented party
from the responding, defensive, living comrade in the poem.

If the song is done right,
the effect of it is haunting and it ripples through the conscience
long after the song is finished.