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GEORGE BUTTERWORTH  

(1885 - 1916)

Born in London in 1885, Butterworth was of Yorkshire ancestry, endowed with the sturdiness and obstinacy of character associated with that county. His father, Sir Alexander Kaye Butterworth, was solicitor and later general manager of the North Eastern Railway, and his mother an amateur singer. He was first at Aysgarth, a prep school in Yorkshire. Something more of his musical ability became further apparent while he was at Eton, where his teachers included Thomas Dunhill and C.H. Lloyd. He went on to Trinity College, Oxford. There he read Literae Humaniores, but neglected his classical academic studies in favour of musical activities, becoming president of the University Music Club and meeting Hugh Allen and R.O. Morris. His father opposed his intention of becoming a musician and Butterworth in consequence was obliged to support himself, following the choice he had made, at first on the music staff of The Times and then as a master at Radley, a school within easy reach of Oxford. In 1910 he returned to London and entered the Royal College of Music, studying the organ with Walter Parratt, piano with Herbert Sharp and theory with Charles Wood, but left after a year, living with his parents, who now were established in London.

The years before the war brought friendship with Vaughan Williams. Butterworth instigated the composition of A London Symphony, helped in the reconstruction from the parts of the full score, which had been lost, and provided analytic notes for the first performance. The period also involved Butterworth in the collection of folk-music and in morris dancing and the activities of Cecil Sharp in the English Folk Dance Society. At the outbreak of war he was commissioned in the 13th Durham Light Infantry, posted to France in 1915 and killed the following year at the battle of the Somme. He was awarded the Military Cross.

– Keith Anderson

Role: Classical Composer 
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