Butterworth, Arthur (1923-2014)

Arthur Butterworth was born in Manchester on 4 August 1923. Between 1942-1947 he served in the Royal Engineers, eventually being stationed in Germany from where the influences of the great German classics on his earlier development as a composer are reflected. It was not until after war service that it was possible to take up formal training at the Royal Manchester College of Music (RMCM) where between 1947-1949, he was a composition student of Richard Hall. He also studied the trumpet and conducting. As a student of Richard Hall he was inculcated with the tenets of the Second Viennese School but quickly rejected these as not being what he wanted to express. On leaving the RMCM, he began a professional career as a trumpeter with the Scottish National Orchestra (now RSNO) and later with the Hallé Orchestra (1955-1962). He was appointed associate conductor of the Huddersfield Philharmonic Society where two years later, in 1964, he became permanent conductor until 1993, a post he particularly enjoyed along with much other music making in the Yorkshire Dales. At this period he was an occasional guest conductor with some of the regional BBC and other professional orchestras. He spent some time teaching instrumental music in West Riding schools until going to Huddersfield University Music Department to lecture in composition, a post he did not particularly enjoy.

Often described as "Northern Impressionism", virtually all his music has been the outcome of a contemplation of the aura of northern England. Although acutely aware of the far-reaching developments of the avant-garde, the composer's allegiances have remained fundamentally within the tradition of English music of the early twentieth century.

The 40 or more orchestral works include four symphonies, concertos for organ, violin, viola, cello, bassoon, trumpet and guitar, and shorter pieces such as the Romanza for horn, along with Northern Summer Nights, The Path Across the Moors, The Quiet Tarn and A Dales Suite whose titles reflect his predilection for northern England. Elgar, Holst, Vaughan Williams, Bliss, Ireland, Finzi and Bax are composers from whom he has received example, but most of all it is Sibelius, from whom derives the expansive Nordic quality of Butterworth's music.

Arthur Butterworth

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Horn Club series


Eight horns

Scherzo: 'Halloween'
Arthur Butterworth