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Over the Hills and Far Away

Donald Macleod explains that while Butterworth's English Idylls showed the popularity of pastoral and folk idioms, the musical language of composers like him had varied influences.

The search for a "new sound" is illustrated in a walk along the Thames and a lurid tale of revenge.

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, we'll also hear 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 has made an indelible mark on the face of British music.

In today's instalment, Donald Macleod is joined once more by Dr Kate Kennedy, an authority on this period. While Butterworth's popular English Idylls reflect the popularity of pastoral and folk idioms, in fact the musical language of these composers draws on a broad net of influences.

George Butterworth
English Idyll No.2
Hallé Orchestra
Mark Elder, conductor

W Denis Browne
Martyn Hill, tenor
Clifford Benson, piano

George Butterworth
Love Blows as the Wind Blows
Jonathan Lemalu, bass-baritone
Belcea Quartet

Ernest Farrar
Variations for Piano and Orchestra
Howard Shelley, piano
Philharmonia Orchestra
Alasdair Mitchell, conductor

Cecil Coles
Fra Giacomo, scena for baritone and orchestra
Paul Whelan, baritone
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Martyn Brabbins, conductor.

1 hour

Music Played

  • George Butterworth

    English Idyll no 2

    Orchestra: Hallé. Conductor: Sir Mark Elder.
    • HALLE : HLL-7503.
    • HALLE.
    • 3.
  • William Charles Denis Browne


    Performer: Clifford Benson. Singer: Martyn Hill.
    • HYPERION : CDD-22026.
    • 21.
  • George Butterworth

    Love blows as the wind blows

    Ensemble: Bingham String Quartet.
    • Meridian:DUO CD 89026.
    • Meridian DUO.
    • 2.
  • Ernest Bristow Farrar

    Variations for Piano and Orchestra

    Performer: Howard Shelley. Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra. Conductor: Alastair Mitchell.
    • CHANDOS : CHAN-9586.
    • CHANDOS.
    • 2.
  • Cecil Coles

    Fra Giacomo

    Orchestra: BBC Scottish S O. Conductor: Martyn Brabbins. Singer: Paul Whelan.
    • HYPERION : CDA-67293.
    • 2.


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