- Professor - Gardiner Chair of Music (Music)
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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 (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 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.
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), and Handel’s Acis and Galatea in November 2008 (which was Gramophone’s Editor’s Choice and Recording of the Month). His recording of Bach’s Mass in B Minor was released in May 2010 and was also Editor’s Choice in Gramophone. He has been guest conductor with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, the Göttingen Handel Festspiele, the Berkeley Festival, the RSAMD Chamber Orchestra and Chorus and the Irish Baroque Orchestra. He conducts Bach's Christmas Oratorio with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in December 2010. John Butt also continues to be active as a solo organist and harpsichordist. Eleven recordings on organ, harpsichord and clavichord have been released by Harmonia Mundi. As conductor or organist he has performed throughout the world, including recent trips to Germany, France, Poland, Israel and Korea.
In 2003 John 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 recently been appointed to the Council of the Arts and Humanities Research Council. In January 2011 he will become the fifth recipient of the Royal Academy of Music/Kohn Foundation's Bach Prize, for his work in the performance and scholarship of Bach.
Bach’s Dialogue with Modernity: Perspectives on the Passions (supported by a two-year Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship, published by Cambridge University Press, 2010)