Folk pioneer George Butterworth remembered in Sidmouth
PUBLISHED: 15:30 13 August 2016
A delightful tribute was recently paid to folk pioneer George Butterworth, 100 years after his death, writes Brian Golding.
It took place on Friday, August 5 - the last day of this year’s Sidmouth FolkWeek – at the war memorial in Church Street.
Butterworth (1885-1916) was one of a group of English musicians who preserved traditional folk music by collecting and recording original songs and dances, contributing to the Folk Song Society, one of the antecedents of the English Folk Dance and Song Society of today.
To classical musicians, he is best known for his settings of AE Houseman’s poems A Shropshire Lad.
However, his greatest legacy to classical music was his influence on Vaughan-Williams, whom he persuaded to write his London Symphony.
Butterworth joined up at the outbreak of World War One as a private, and was subsequently promoted to lieutenant. He showed great bravery on several occasions and was awarded the Military Cross on July 17, 1916 during action near the French town of Pozières. In a subsequent action nearby on August 5, he was killed by a sniper during a German counter-attack.
The tribute was arranged by Barry Honeysett and friends. It included Bonnet so Blue and Willow Tree from the Bucknell collection, Molly Oxford - a silent film featuring Butterworth morris dancing – and Lady’s Pleasure.
A crowd of around 40 people gathered to enjoy the music and dancing, and to remember the tragically short life of a key contributor to modern folk music.