George Butterworth’s A Shropshire Lad perfectly captures the essence of Englishness while poignantly recalling those ‘lads in their hundreds’ who, like the composer himself, lost their lives to World War I. One of our festival favourites, baritone Roderick Williams, will be performing this and songs by, amongst others, Gurney, Ireland, Finzi and Anthony Payne.
Kindly supported by Harry Prince & Michael Guittard
Butterworth was one of the most promising composers of his generation regrettably killed in action aged 31 in the Great War. His total output is rather small, partly because he concentrated much of his time to collecting folk songs (often with Ralph Vaughan Williams), and partly because he destroyed several of his early works before setting off for France.
A Shropshire Lad is one of 2 major song cycles, set to poems by AE Housman. As well as having a recurrent death wish theme, many of Housman’s poems return to the senselessness of war and the arbitrariness of who would return and who would not. Although it was the Boer war that was the main subject of such poems, WWI brought new force to the agony of these lines.