Frances Fyfield visits two locations in today's Tales from the Stave as she continues her forensic musical enquiries in search of the life and work of George Butterworth. She begins at Eton College where Butterworth was a pupil. He donated the manuscript of his song settings of A 'Shropshire Lad' to the library and Michael Meredith shows Frances and baritone Roderick Williams the manuscript and some rather special editions of A.E. Houseman's poems. They are joined by the conductor, Adrian Davis and handwriting expert, Ruth Rostron.
They continue the Butterworth trail to Oxford where Butterworth was a student. Bodleian librarian Martin Holmes and Peter Ward Jones then show Frances, Adrian, Roderick and Ruth the orchestral manuscript of Butterworth's Orchestral Rhapsody, A Shropshire Lad. Alongside the manuscript there is also a chance to look at the scrapbook which Butterworth's father compiled after his son's untimely death, serving as a soldier in World War 1.
Butterworth was at the forefront of folk music collecting and was admired by those around him. Contained in the scrapbook are letters from Ralph Vaughan Williams, written from his posting in France 1916, to Butterworth senior, expressing his sadness upon hearing the news of his son's death. George Butterworth was only 31 years old when he was killed by a sniper's bullet. Who knows what else he may have gone on to compose.
Producer: Sarah Taylor.