George Sainton Kaye Butterworth was born on July 12, 1885, in London, in a quite well-off family. His mother, a former professional soprano, taught him his first musical education. Butterworth did never really drift away from music in spite of an advanced study background (He studied in Aysgarth, then Eton and Oxford). For instance, he conducted in 1908 the New Symphony Orchestra for a representation of A Midsummer night’s dream from Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy.
Later in his life he devoted himself to the popular music of oral tradition, with Cecil Sharp and Ralph Vaughan Williams. He recovered around 450 pieces of the popular repertoire which he registered into collections or used afterwards for his own compositions. He was an accomplished dancer, as a consequence, his work also included traditional dances promotions (such as the Morris Dance).
Butterworth, enrolled in World War One from the first months, was killed on August 5, 1916 in France. His Raphsody; A Shropshire Lad will receive a great deal of success after his death.