George Butterworth: Soldier and Composer.

George Butterworth: Soldier and Composer.

Author
Laurence Green
ARRSE Rating
4 Mushroom Heads
George Butterworth had already established a reputation as one of the young English composers of the Edwardian age. He was educated at Eton and Trinity. Much of the 19th Century had been dominated by European composers but Butterworth was composing English orchestral and choral work. His research included Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire traditional music which musicians like Cecil Sharpe had realised were in danger of disappearing.

Butterworth had not come from a military family (his father was a railway director) but was an accomplished sportsman and was a master at St Peter's College, Radley. He had not joined the OTC while up at Oxford.

The outbreak of war in 1914 saw Butterworth enlist in the DCLI, soon afterwards he and a number of promising young men were identified as officer potential and selected for commissioning. Butterworth was commissioned into the DLI.

So far we see a willing public school man commissioned into the army like so many of that fine generation. As the book develops, however, one sees what sterling qualities Butterworth developed being widely respected by both his men and his superior officers. The author very creditably shows the Western Front through the eyes of a subaltern and there are good vignettes of the life in the trenches. For those who have struggled with drill in their early careers it is amusing that Butterworth found his experience as a Morris dancer helped with drill! A delightful thought for RMAS perhaps?

Butterworth fell in the fighting at Munster Trench near Pozieres. A road is named after him and the author helpfully gives details useful to visitors to the site.

Laurence Green has written a number of works and his venture into military writing has produced a book both informative and enjoyable. Casemate publishing have produced a high quality book (197 pages) with relevant illustrations on good gloss paper. There is a useful index and bibliography.
Cover price £19.95 with various offers on Amazon from £9.53
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