William Butt was born in London. His musical career started early, as a chorister in St George’s Chapel, Windsor. Later he studied the cello at the Royal Northern College of Music with Moray Welsh and after winning awards and scholarships such as the Royal Society of Arts, Martin Trust and first prize in the Muriel Taylor competition, he furthered his studies with Antonio Lysy in Montreal. He now enjoys a busy career as soloist, chamber musician and is professor of cello at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin.
On the concert platform he has performed extensively throughout Ireland, the UK, Europe and the Far East. He is a much admired exponent of the solo cello repertoire, having performed and broadcast numerous works by contemporary composers, as well as the formidable solo sonatas by Kodály and Ligeti and the suites of Bach and Britten.
In recent seasons he has appeared as soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, the Orchestra of St Cecilia and the Ulster Orchestra for BBC Radio 3. He has worked with conductors such as Alexander Anissimov, Gerhard Markson, Rumon Gamba, Vernon Handley and Barry Douglas.
He has performed and broadcast all the major concertos for cello. In 1997 he gave the Irish premiere of the Walton concerto with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra. Also with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra in 2001 he played the Dvorák concerto and in 2003 a tour of the Schumann concerto. As well as a performance of the Protecting Veil by John Tavener with the Hibernian Orchestra he undertook a series at the National Concert Hall in Dublin in 2004 with the orchestra of St Cecilia and Barry Douglas in which he played the Dvorák, Elgar, and Shostakovich first cello concertos, the Tchaikovsky Rococo variations, as well as both Haydn concerti in three concerts over a two week period. He has also performed and broadcast the cello concerto by Victor Herbert with the Ulster orchestra.
William Butt's performances have been broadcast on BBC radio 3 (in recital as well as concerti with the Ulster Orchestra), BBC Radio Ulster, BBC World Service, National television in China, CBC (Canada) and RTÉ radio and television. He has also featured as a guest artist on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune.
In recital he has played for festivals and series such as the Royal Dublin Society, BBC Radio 3 and the Music in Great Irish Houses festival.
His 2004 recording of the three suites for solo cello by Benjamin Britten was released by Warner Classics on the Apex label and received very exciting reviews in the English press including The Observer and The Independent on Sunday which awarded the recording five stars. In 2006 he gave a solo concert and Masterclasses in Beijing. In the 2008/09, 2009/10 seasons, as well as recitals and concerti in the UK, Ireland and Europe he has made return trips to China to give highly successful tours of recitals in all the major cities. More recently he has performed and given Masterclasses throughout Europe, given tours performing the Bach suites and is constantly in demand as a chamber music player, something that he is passionate about. Recently he performed the Schubert Quintet in C with the Vanbrugh String Quartet, and he works regularly with his own string quartet, the Schumann Quartet. In 2012/13 he will be busy promoting his live recording of the 6 Cello Suites for cello by JS Bach also released on the Warner Classics Apex label and returning to China for another tour.
He plays on a fine cello made by Giovanni Grancino in Milan (1690).
updated September 2012