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Benjamin Stayner - George Butterworth: A Shropshire Lad (Rhapsody for Orchestra)

Benjamin Stayner - George Butterworth: A Shropshire Lad (Rhapsody for Orchestra)

June 30th, 2019 Monteux School & Music Festival Hancock, ME Benjamin Stayner, conductor Monteux Festival Orchestra "George Butterworth, who studied at Trinity College, Oxford and the Royal College of Music, London, was "a brilliant musician in time of peace, and an equally brilliant soldier in times of stress", as quoted from his Brigadier General Page Croft. During his time in study, he became close friends with Cecil Sharp, Vaughan Williams, and Adrian Boult, to name a few. At the outbreak of World War I, Butterworth enlisted in the British army. He destroyed many of his works before departing, lest he should not return and have the chance to revise them. Unfortunately, two years into the war, after earning a Medal of Courage for his efforts, Butterworth was killed by a sniper in the Battle of the Somme at the early age of 31. Of his handful of works and arguably his most famous work is a collection of eleven songs, written as settings of poems from A.E. Housman's A Shropshire Lad. Other composers such as Ralph Vaughan Williams, Arthur Sommerville, Samuel Barber, and Ned Rorem have set poems from Housman's work as well. From this collection of sixty-three poems, two of them are set and expanded upon in Butterworth's orchestral rhapsody of the same title: "Loveliest of trees" (II) and "With rue my heart is laden" (LIV). The conclusionary reference to "With rue my heart is laden, for golden friends I had" alludes to the unlikeliness of his return from war, embodying his own elegy. This beautiful transcendent rhapsody reflects an era and a way of life that no longer existed after the beginning of the Great War." Program notes by the conductor.
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