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George Butterworth (1885-1916)

Most promising composer of his generation, killed at the Somme

George Sainton Kaye Butterworth is best remembered for his cycle of songs entitled ‘A Shropshire Lad’. These 11 songs took their words from A.E. Housman’s poems of that name. His works, many of which he destroyed before going to the Front, tapped into a pastoral idyll which drew upon folk music and dance for their inspiration.

When the war started he left Oxford to join up. He served with the 13th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry as a Second Lieutenant. While with the DLI he gained great affection for the men of the area:

“It is to be hoped that those who grumble at national slackness will make an exception in favour of the working people of Durham county; the large majority of these men have given up good jobs and comfortable homes for the best reasons, and are willing to stand almost anything…”

He was shot by a sniper at 4:45am, 5 August 1916 while in the “Munster Alley” trench near Pozieres on the Somme.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission: The Banks of Green Willow composer George Butterworth remembered, 4 Aug 2016

BBC MUSIC George Butterworth

War Composers: George Butterworth – a biography

The Western Front Association. Brothers in Arms 5 August 1916 George Butterworth British composer

Behind the Lines: The music and composers of the First World War: George Butterworth

ALL MY LIFE’S BURIED HERE – The Story of George Butterworth
A documentary film from British Independent Hajdukino Productions

Birth date: 1885-Jul-12

Death date: 1916-Aug-5

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: 19 Cheyne Gardens, Chelsea (1911 census)

Education: Aysgarth School, Bedale, North Yorkshire, 1896
Eton College, 1899
Trinity College, Oxford, 1904

Organisation membership: 13th DLI

Employment: Composer

Military service:

Second Lieutenant

Medal(s): Military Cross

Memorial(s): Thiepval Monument

Gender: Male

Contributed by Durham County Record Office