A concert by the Trinity Orchestra and an exhibition about the life of Trinity men in the WWI trenches have taken place to coincide with Remembrance Sunday.
The concert commemorated the composer George Butterworth (1885-1916), who came up to Trinity College in 1904 and interspersed pieces of his music with poetry readings. The concert was planned and conducted by Charlotte Lynch, a graduate student studying for a DPhil in Metallurgy and Science of Materials.
The concert was preceded by an exhibition of archive material relating to the experiences of Trinity men in the trenches of the Western Front, ranging from photographs, letters home, and diaries, to the military souvenirs brought home by the combatants. These included a trench periscope, which visitors were encouraged to take a look through, and a German grenade and helmet. One particularly moving letter was that of George Butterworth’s commanding officer to his father, describing the last weeks of George’s life as a lieutenant in the Durham Light Infantry.
George Butterworth had shown musical ability from a very young age, playing the chapel organ at his prep school, and as a notable composer and performer at Eton. In 1910 he enrolled at the Royal College of Music and at the same time he began a serious work as a collector of English folk music and dances. An enthusiastic and talented Morris dancer, in 1911 he was one of the founding members and leading performers of the English Folk-Dance Society. Butterworth’s surviving compositions include orchestral, string and piano works, and a number of arrangements of folk songs.
At the outbreak of War in August 1914 he enlisted immediately, taking a commission in the 13th Durham Light Infantry. On the night of 16-17 July 1916 he was awarded the MC for a successful attack near Pozières. Eighteen days later, he led an attack on the German held ‘Munster’ communication trench. Despite heavy losses the trench was won and held, but on the morning of 5 August, George Butterworth was killed by a sniper’s bullet. His name is one of the 72,000 inscribed on the Somme’s Theipval Memorial for the fallen who have no known grave.
Posted 14 November 2016