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Donald Macleod visits the home of the English Folk Song and Dance Society to learn how Butterworth helped preserve British folk tunes and inspired a generation of composers.

George Butterworth and contemporaries: a visit to the home of the English Folk Song and Dance Society reveals how British folk tunes inspired a generation of composers.

A close friend of Vaughan Williams, George Butterworth was killed at the age of 31, during the battle of the Somme as dawn broke on the 5th August 1916. A war hero, he was awarded the Military Cross twice. Butterworth's legacy rests on a handful of pieces, notably his much loved English Idylls and folk-song arrangements. He belongs to a generation of composers who showed great promise early on, only to be denied the chance to reach musical maturity. Over the course of the week, the series also features the work of four contemporaries of Butterworth: fellow Englishmen Ernest Farrar and W Denis Browne, the Scottish composer Cecil Coles and the Australian composer Frederick Septimus Kelly. All of them, like Butterworth, died on active service during the Great War. Among the musical gems, there's the first ever recording of Denis Browne's ballet "The Comic Spirit", made for the series by the BBC Philharmonic. Their musical trajectory may be short, but this lost generation of composers nonetheless made an indelible mark on the face of British music.

Today Donald Macleod and Dr Kate Kennedy, an authority on this period, pay a visit to Cecil Sharp House, the home of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, to meet Laura Smyth, the Library and Archives Director. Looking through Butterworth's diaries and notebooks they find out how he helped to preserve our native folk music and how this revival influenced his contemporaries' music.

George Butterworth
English Idyll No.1
English String Orchestra
William Boughton, conductor

George Butterworth
Folk Songs from Sussex (selection)
Roderick Williams, baritone
Iain Burnside, piano

Vaughan Williams
Norfolk Rhapsody No.1
London Symphony Orchestra
Richard Hickox, conductor

Ernest Farrar
English Pastoral Impressions
Philharmonia Orchestra
Alasdair Mitchell, conductor

George Butterworth
The Banks of Green Willow
English String Orchestra
William Boughton, conductor.

1 hour

Last on

Mon 1 Aug 2016 18:30

Music Played

  • Trad.

    The Banks of green willow

    Singer: David Clements.
  • George Butterworth

    English Idyll No.1

    Conductor: William Boughton. Orchestra: English String Orchestra.
    • NIMBUS : NI-5068.
    • NIMBUS.
    • 2.
  • George Butterworth

    Folk-songs from Sussex

    Performer: Iain Burnside. Singer: Roderick Williams.
    • Naxos:8572426.
    • Naxos.
    • 7.
  • Ralph Vaughan Williams

    Norfolk rhapsody no. 1

    Conductor: Richard Hickox.
    • CHANDOS : chan-10001.
    • CHANDOS.
    • 7.
  • Ernest Bristow Farrar

    English Pastoral Impressions

    Composer: Ernest Bristow Farrar. Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra. Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra. Conductor: Alastair Mitchell. Conductor: Alastair Mitchell.
    • Chandos : 9586.
    • Chandos.
    • 5.
  • George Butterworth

    The Banks of green willow

    Orchestra: English String Orchestra. Conductor: William Boughton.
    • NIMBUS : NI-5068.
    • NIMBUS.
    • 4.

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