Butterworth, George


Butterworth, George

Volume 2 (Works for chamber group): Suite for String Quartet, Love Blows as the Wind Blows (versions for voice and string quartet, voice and piano, and voice and small orchestra)



Butterworth, George
Suite for String Quartet, Love blows as the wind blows (Versions for voice & string quartet, voice & piano, voice and small orchestra)

Volume 2
Works for Chamber Group

Suite for String Quartet (1910)
Love Blows as the Wind Blows
For voice and string quartet, or voice and piano (1911-1912)
Love Blows as the Wind Blows
For voice and small orchestra (1914)
(edited by Phillip Brookes)

George Butterworth was one of Britain’s finest musicians during the years leading up to World War One, a conflict which tragically claimed his life. As a composer, he wrote exquisite music for the orchestra in addition to moving and poignant songs, especially to words by A.E.Housman. He was also an important figure in the folksong revival and one of the most talented morris-dancers (folk-dancers) of his day, being responsible for preserving many ancient dances.

His death in action robbed the musical world of a great talent, but also gave rise to the frustrating and unanswerable enigma: what might Butterworth have achieved, had he lived?

Suite for String Quartet
Butterworth wrote two works for string quartet, an early essay written while at Eton, and this Suite, his only surviving chamber work. It dates from around 1910, soon after the Butterworth family moved to a Chelsea address, which is noted in the original score. Hugh Allen, Butterworth’s friend and mentor from the Oxford years, claimed it pre-dated Love blows. The work lay dormant in the Bodleian Library, Oxford (which houses many of the composer’s surviving manuscripts) for about 90 years until, through the patient and persistent efforts of the clarinettist Victor Slaymark, permission was given for the Suite to be copied.

Members of the Leonora Ensemble gave first performances during 2001, on 22 April at St Augustine’s, Grove Park, London, and on 10 June at Clun Parish Church, Shropshire. Grateful thanks are due, not only to the performers, but also to the Bodleian Library for their co-operation, and to John Mitchell for arranging it to be published by Modus Music in 2001.

The Suite has five movements, in each of which folk-song influence is apparent, Butterworth at this time being fully immersed in the folksong revival; there are also indications of the use of more advanced, impressionistic harmonies.
– This flowing movement opens with a viola theme in C minor, reminiscent of many a folk tune, but here no doubt entirely original. The music eventually reaches a climax in the remote key of A flat minor, before the resumption of earlier material.

– This is a very short scherzando in B flat major, again opening with the viola, and containing some interesting syncopated and complex rhythmical effects. Its extreme brevity may possibly suggest Butterworth did not complete the movement, but a more likely explanation is that it may have been intended as a short introduction to:

– The central allegro molto in many ways is in typical scherzo form. It is based in a modal G minor with a contrasting lyrical section in A flat major, before returning to the opening mood and building up to a G major climax.

– This is an expressive slow movement in a modal G major tonality

– The finale, opening in a C minor/E flat major tonality, is perhaps a less successful movement, with some rather contrived parts. Two basic themes bear the imprint of folksong, but, in places, their development shows Butterworth losing inspiration. It closes with a brief but poignant reference to the rather sombre material of the opening of the whole work.

The Suite is one of Butterworth’s most substantial scores, and, despite a few contrived passages, deserves to be played by enterprising quartets. There are some fine examples of string writing, whether in the vigorous cross-rhythms of the scherzando or in the lyrical melodies of the slower movements.



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Score Data

Special Edition

The Phillip Brookes Collection


Chamber Music




160 x 240 mm

Performance materials



First print


Love blows as the wind blows (for voice & small orchstra): Conductors' score & parts available


Love blows as the wind blows (for voice & small orchstra): Conductors' score & parts available


160 x 240 mm

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