Butt received his undergraduate and doctoral degrees at the University of Cambridge (Ph.D., 1987). While an undergraduate, he held the office of organ scholar at King's College.
The majority of his performance activity since 2003 has been in the role of musical director of the Dunedin Consort in Edinburgh Scotland. In 2006, Butt and the Dunedin made the first recording of the 1742 Dublin version of The Messiah by Handel. The recording won Baroque Vocal Album of the Year in the 2007 Classic FM Gramophone Awards and the best Baroque Album award at the Midem Classical Awards in Cannes, France. In 2008 Butt and the Dunedin released a recording of the Saint Matthew Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach; it was the first recording to incorporate the composer's final 1742 revisions to the score and has also received strong reviews.
Butt has made 10 solo recordings on organ, harpsichord and clavichord with Harmonia Mundi (France and USA), including the Bach trio sonatas for organ, the Bach toccatas and the Schübler chorales, and also recorded the Bach violin sonatas with Elizabeth Blumenstock. He has recorded Elgar’s complete organ music and made several recordings for the BBC. He also appears as continuo player on many recordings by Nicholas McGegan and others.
As soloist and conductor he has performed throughout the world, including the Göttingen Handel Festspiele, Carmel Bach Festival, and the Berkeley Festival (where he directed a newly discovered Scarlatti opera in 1996). Recent recital tours have taken him to the USA, Canada, Germany, Bermuda, Istanbul, Poland and Korea. In 2008 he (together with Kevin Bowyer) will perform the entire organ works of Olivier Messiaen.
Butt has written numerous articles and reviews, and has several essays in the Oxford Companion to Bach and Cambridge Companion to Bach (of which he was editor), New Grove 2 and the Cambridge History of Nineteenth-Century Music. He is also co-editor of the Cambridge History of Seventeenth-Century Music.
Butt has published five books with Cambridge University Press, relating to Bach, the baroque period, modernity and the contemporary culture of historical performance. His book, Bach's Dialogue with Modernity: Perspectives on the Passions, will be published by Cambridge in 2009. His 2002 book, Playing with History: The Historical Approach to Musical Performance, (Cambridge University Press) was shortlisted for the book prize of the British Academy. His first book, Bach Interpretation: Articulation Marks in the Sources of J.S. Bach (1990, Cambridge University Press) won the Scheide Award of the American Bach Society; it is based on Butt's doctoral thesis (at the University of Cambridge). He also wrote Bach: Mass in B Minor for the Cambridge Handbook series (1991) and Music Education and the Art of Performance in the German Baroque (Cambridge, 1994).
In 2003 he received the Dent Medal of the Royal Musical Association. Butt has been elected to Fellowship of the British Academy and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He is married to the violinist Sally Butt; the couple has five children. References