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Artist Hyperion Records
Butt, John (harpsichord)
© David Barbour

John Butt (harpsichord)

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, before 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: they include Bach Interpretation (1990), a handbook on Bach’s Mass in B minor (1991) and Music Education and the Art of Performance in the German Baroque (1994).

Marking a new tack, Playing with History (2002) examined the broad culture of historically informed performance and attempted 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 (2005). His book on Bach’s Passions, Bach’s Dialogue with Modernity, was published in 2010, and 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 has been guest conductor with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Irish Baroque Orchestra, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Royal Academy of Music/Kohn Foundation Cantata Series, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Chamber Orchestra and Chorus. He also continues to be active as a solo organist and harpsichordist: eleven recordings on organ, harpsichord and clavichord have been released by Harmonia Mundi. Butt has subsequently made eight albums for Linn with the Dunedin Consort, two of which—Handel’s Messiah and Mozart’s Requiem—have won Gramophone Awards. As conductor or organist he has performed throughout the world, including recent trips to Germany, France, Poland, Israel, South Korea, Canada, Belgium, Holland and the Irish Republic.

In 2003 Butt was elected to the 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. In 2010 he was appointed to the Council of the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and the following January he became the fifth recipient of the Royal Academy of Music/Kohn Foundation’s Bach Prize, for his work on the performance and scholarship of Bach. In 2013 Butt was appointed OBE for his services to music in Scotland.


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