Author Topic: George Butterworth (1885-1916)  (Read 1396 times)

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Offline vandermolen

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George Butterworth (1885-1916)
« on: August 05, 2016, 10:53:38 AM »
100 years ago today (5th August 1916) - George Butterworth killed at the Battle of the Somme - a great loss to British and world music. Can't see an earlier Butterworth thread:

http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/14663537.Composer_George_Butterworth_remembered_100_years_after_he_was_killed_in_action_on_the_Somme/
« Last Edit: August 05, 2016, 10:58:26 AM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline mjwal

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Re: George Butterworth (1885-1916)
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2018, 09:15:10 AM »
I think I was in another space when you posted this, vandermolen, or I'd have replied. I cannot understand why a composer of his quality is overlooked on the forum. His one extended orchestral fantasy, based on his song 'Loveliest of trees', is heartbreaking in its intensity - it seems to be imbued with all the regret an early death in the Great War might inspire, though of course he wrote it before he left Britain for the Somme. Two magnificent recordings: Barbirolli and Elder, who also includes 3 shorter orchestral pieces by G.B. in his collection as well as Delius, V.W., Ireland and Finzi. Though G.B. is best known for his Housman settings, I am also very fond of his little cycle of W.H. Henley settings, 'Love blows as the wind blows'. There is a very fine recording of the orchestral version of three of the songs, with Robert Tear (tenor) and the CBSO conducted by Handley, and a rather less successful interpretation of the chamber setting of all four by Jonathan Lemalu (baritone). There are several recordings of the Housman settings, I very much like Bryn Terfel's on a great CD of English composers' settings of English words, The Vagabond.
The Violin's Obstinacy

It needs to return to this one note,
not a tune and not a key
but the sound of self it must depart from,
a journey lengthily to go
in a vein it knows will cripple it.
...
Peter Porter

Offline vandermolen

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Re: George Butterworth (1885-1916)
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2018, 11:29:53 AM »
I think I was in another space when you posted this, vandermolen, or I'd have replied. I cannot understand why a composer of his quality is overlooked on the forum. His one extended orchestral fantasy, based on his song 'Loveliest of trees', is heartbreaking in its intensity - it seems to be imbued with all the regret an early death in the Great War might inspire, though of course he wrote it before he left Britain for the Somme. Two magnificent recordings: Barbirolli and Elder, who also includes 3 shorter orchestral pieces by G.B. in his collection as well as Delius, V.W., Ireland and Finzi. Though G.B. is best known for his Housman settings, I am also very fond of his little cycle of W.H. Henley settings, 'Love blows as the wind blows'. There is a very fine recording of the orchestral version of three of the songs, with Robert Tear (tenor) and the CBSO conducted by Handley, and a rather less successful interpretation of the chamber setting of all four by Jonathan Lemalu (baritone). There are several recordings of the Housman settings, I very much like Bryn Terfel's on a great CD of English composers' settings of English words, The Vagabond.
Thanks very much for the reply mjwal. To be quite honest I'd forgotten that I'd started this thread. I very much agree with everything you say. The song 'Coming up from Richmond' in the 'Love blows as the wind blows' setting is absolutely lovely. Such a loss to British music.

I wonder if you know 'To Gratiana, Dancing and Singing' by W. Denis Browne (1888-1915) also killed in the Great War. As you like GB you might enjoy it if you don't already know it:
https://youtu.be/2PJBeBVuB7g
« Last Edit: March 29, 2018, 11:43:35 AM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: George Butterworth (1885-1916)
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2020, 02:59:42 AM »
Bump...

Do y'all think that had he survived the Battle of the Somme, Butterworth would have gone on to become one of the great English composers alongside his older friend Vaughan Williams? Or would he have remained a curiosity? As he left behind so little music it's hard to tell, but it's all of such high quality.

I have the Marriner/ASMF recordings of the Shropshire Lad rhapsody, Two English Idylls, and The Banks of Green Willow. All are very beautiful and unique, some of my favorite English music in my library. And that's it, I suppose...? There is no more extant orchestral music from his pen, correct? The next step from here would be the songs, which have been recorded on Naxos. There's not much else, is there?

Anyway, of course, I'm an American; I might be overstating this composer's importance out of ignorance to the larger tradition. Is anyone else here as enamored with what little music he has left behind? One final note is that it appears it is through Butterworth's coaxing that his friend Vaughan Williams turned his attentions to the symphonic form in the first place.

Anyone else listening to Butterworth's music lately?

Online Biffo

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Re: George Butterworth (1885-1916)
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2020, 03:11:28 AM »
Bump...

Do y'all think that had he survived the Battle of the Somme, Butterworth would have gone on to become one of the great English composers alongside his older friend Vaughan Williams? Or would he have remained a curiosity? As he left behind so little music it's hard to tell, but it's all of such high quality.

I have the Marriner/ASMF recordings of the Shropshire Lad rhapsody, Two English Idylls, and The Banks of Green Willow. All are very beautiful and unique, some of my favorite English music in my library. And that's it, I suppose...? There is no more extant orchestral music from his pen, correct? The next step from here would be the songs, which have been recorded on Naxos. There's not much else, is there?

Anyway, of course, I'm an American; I might be overstating this composer's importance out of ignorance to the larger tradition. Is anyone else here as enamored with what little music he has left behind? One final note is that it appears it is through Butterworth's coaxing that his friend Vaughan Williams turned his attentions to the symphonic form in the first place.

Anyone else listening to Butterworth's music lately?

I listened to the song cycle A Shropshire Lad a few days ago. Sadly Butterworth didn't leave very much but the few short orchestral works he did write have had multiple recordings - the Marriner/ASMF versions are long-standing favourites of mine. The Naxox disc of songs from Roderick Williams and Ian Burnside (piano) is well worth having.

It is probably futile to speculate how he would progressed had he lived.

Offline Irons

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Re: George Butterworth (1885-1916)
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2020, 07:48:24 AM »


It is probably futile to speculate how he would progressed had he lived.

Christopher Palmer sums it up perfectly for me: The music that Butterworth lived to complete established him not as a composer who might have been but as one who very definitely was.
You must have a very good opinion of yourself to write a symphony - John Ireland.