All My Life's Buried Here

The Story of George Butterworth


A Documentary Film
from British Independent HAJDUKINO PRODUCTIONS

The life of the English composer, country dancer and folk song collector George Butterworth was cut short when he was killed in action at Pozières, France during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. Shot by a frontline sniper at just 31 years of age, his body was buried out of necessity where he fell. Butterworth left behind a handful of exceptional musical compositions and a manuscript collection of over 300 English folk songs, tunes and dances amassed on his collecting trips into rural England, yet the details of his career have remained relatively unknown until recently.

English Countryside

Butterworth’s surviving output, particularly the Rhapsody, 'A Shropshire Lad' and the Idyll The Banks of Green Willow are seen as emblematic of a particularly English musical sensibility and his works retain great popular appeal. In August 2014 Sir Simon Rattle chose to record Butterworth’s Rhapsody: A Shropshire Lad with the Berlin Philharmonic to mark the Centenary of World War One, and Butterworth's The Banks of Green Willow regularly takes its place in the Classic FM listeners' chart. His orchestral music, like that of Vaughan Williams, is often termed 'pastoral'; what is less commonly noted is the deep current of emotion that runs throughout Butterworth's music.

Along with other pioneers, including Vaughan Williams and Holst, Butterworth was part of a radical pre-war musical movement in England which sought to express an authentic cultural identity by drawing inspiration from Tudor composers and from the well of English traditional song. Butterworth went 'back to the source' in order to absorb the infuence of traditional English melodies direct from the rural singers and musicians themselves.

Using never-before-seen archival material, evocative reconstruction, and drawing on testimony from his contemporaries and from Butterworth's biographer Anthony Murphy with a selection of expert commentators and gifted singers and musicians, this portrait documentary tells the story of Butterworth's life and music from his earliest childhood to his fnal hours in the chaos and confusion of trench warfare. We are invited to accompany Butterworth on his forays collecting folk songs, to discover what he really found when he went out into rural England and how it informed his own compositions. We explore what led Butterworth to once describe himself as a 'professional morris dancer', and follow his journey to its tragic conclusion in France where, as an offcer in the Durham Light Infantry, he led a division of men during a period of intense frontline fghting on The Somme that ultimately cost him his life.

George Butterworth's story is apt for cinematic treatment, yet remarkably he has never been the subject of a dedicated flm documentary. Now, one hundred years on from the end of World War One, it is time to tell George Butterworth's story on screen and recognise all the accomplishments in his brief but quite remarkable life.