The Banks of Green Willow begins in pastorale mode with the title tune established in the Strings with solo clarinet. The work builds to quite a passionate climax before re-establishing the pastorale mood of the opening. The song on which the story is based has a tragic death at its centre, which is reflected in the score.
English composer and folksong collector George Butterworth, who lived at the turn of the last century and lost his life in the First World War, is known for his settings of selections of A E Housman’s A Shropshire Lad and for an Orchestral rhapsody he composed on the same theme. As a Recorder of folksongs, he was successful in noting more than three hundred, mainly from Sussex. One of them, The Banks of Green Willow, is the basis for the idyll for Orchestra that has been adapted here for Piano.