John Butt is Gardiner Professor of Music at the University of Glasgow and musical director of Edinburgh's Dunedin Consort.
John Butt is Gardiner Professor of Music at the University of Glasgow and Musical Director of Edinburgh’s Dunedin Consort.
As an undergraduate at Cambridge University, he held the office of organ scholar at King’s College. Continuing as a graduate student working on the music of Bach, he received 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 Professor of Music. In autumn 1997 he returned to Cambridge as a University Lecturer and Fellow of King’s College, and in October 2001 he took up his current post at Glasgow. His books have been published by Cambridge University Press: these include Bach Interpretation, a handbook on Bach’s Mass in B minor, Music Education and the Art of Performance in the German Baroque. Playing with History marked a new tack, examining the broad culture of historically informed performance and attempting to explain and justify it as a contemporary phenomenon. Butt is also editor or joint editor of both the Cambridge and Oxford Companions to Bach and of the Cambridge History of Seventeenth-Century Music. His book on Bach’s Passions, Bach’s Dialogue with Modernity, explores the ways in which Bach’s Passion settings relate to some of the broader concepts of modernity, such as subjectivity and time consciousness.
Butt’s conducting engagements with the Dunedin Consort have included major Baroque and Classical repertory and several new commissions. He is a Principal Artist with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and has been guest conductor with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Hallé Orchestra, City of London Sinfonia, Rotterdams Philharmonisch Orkest, Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Aurora Orchestra, The English Concert, Irish Baroque Orchestra, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Portland Baroque Orchestra. He also continues to be active as a solo organist and harpsichordist.
In 2003 Butt 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. He has served on the Arts and Humanities Research Council. In January 2011 he became the fifth recipient of the Royal Academy of Music/Kohn Foundation’s Bach Prize. In 2013 he was awarded the medal of the Royal College of Organists and the OBE for his services to music in Scotland.