John Butt - Curriculum vitae#

Position: Gardiner Chair

Biography: John Butt was born in 1960 (in Solihull, West Midlands) and was educated (on a music scholarship) at Solihull School. As an undergraduate at Cambridge University, he held the office of organ scholar at King's College. Continuing as a graduate student, he studied the music of Bach, surveying articulation markings in autograph manuscripts and receiving his PhD in 1987. He was subsequently a lecturer at the University of Aberdeen and a Fellow of Magdalene College Cambridge, joining the faculty at UC Berkeley in 1989 as University Organist and Assistant Professor in Music (Associate Professor in 1992). In Autumn 1997 he returned to Cambridge as a University Lecturer and Fellow of King's College, and in October 2001 he became the Gardiner Chair of Music at the University of Glasgow, and Head of the Music Department (2001-05).

His books have been published by Cambridge University Press: his study of articulation, Bach Interpretation (1990), a handbook on Bach’s Mass in B Minor (1991), Music Education and the Art of Performance in the German Baroque (1994). Playing with History (2002) marked a new tack, examining the broad culture of historically informed performance and attempting to explain and justify it as a contemporary phenomenon. He is also editor of (and contributor to) the Cambridge Companion to Bach (1997), consultant editor for the Oxford Companion to Bach, and joint editor (together with Tim Carter) of the Cambridge History of Seventeenth Century Music (2005). His recent research has ranged from aspects of the ontology of music in the seventeenth century to considerations of the influence of plainchant and Roman Catholic culture in the music of Elgar. His book on Bach’s Passions, Bach’s Dialogue with Modernity, will be published in late 2009.

John Butt’s conducting engagements with the Dunedin Consort (2003-) have included major Baroque repertory and several new commissions. His recording of Messiah in its first performed version (Dublin, 1742) was released by Linn records in 2006 and received the ClassicFM/Gramophone award in the Baroque Vocal Category in 2007 and the MIDEM award for Baroque Music in 2008. Linn released his recording of Bach's Matthew Passion in March 2008 (which was ClassicFM Magazine’s Recording of the month in April 2008), and Handel’s Acis and Galatea in November 2008 (which was Gramophone’s Editor’s Choice and Recording of the Month in January 2009). He will be recording Bach’s Mass in B Minor with the Dunedin Consort in September 2009.

John Butt continues to be active as a solo organist and harpsichordist, performing across the world. Eleven recordings on organ, harpsichord and clavichord have been released by Harmonia Mundi. These also include (together with violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock) Bach's sonatas for violin and obbligato harpsichord. His most recent organ recordings are of the Bach organ toccatas and Schübler Chorales and Elgar's complete organ music. He has been guest conductor with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, San Francisco, the Göttingen Handel Festspiele, and the RSAMD Chamber Orchestra and Chorus. He conducted a newly discovered Scarlatti opera at the 1996 Berkeley Festival. As an organist and harpsichordist he has performed throughout the UK and the USA and also in Germany, including concertos with St Paul’s Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia Baroque and the San Francisco Symphony. BBC broadcasts since 2000 include a programme on Bach's Weimar organ music from the chapel at Weimar and a programme of Handel and Mozart from the University of Glasgow Chapel.

In 2003 he was elected to Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and received the Dent Medal of the Royal Musical Association. That year his book, Playing with History, was shortlisted for the British Academy's annual Book Prize. In 2006 he was elected Fellow of the British Academy and began a two-year Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship for his research on Bach's Passions.

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