Death of leading composer

TRIBUTES have been paid to a leading composer who has died aged 73.Composer, pianist and conductor James Butt, 73, had his work broadcast regularly on BBC programmes, with many transmitted around the world.

TRIBUTES have been paid to a leading composer who has died aged 73.

Composer, pianist and conductor James Butt, 73, had his work broadcast regularly on BBC programmes, with many transmitted around the world. He also studied under composer Benjamin Britten.

Mr Butt was a conductor of the Woodbridge's orchestra, increasing their repertoire, concerts and giving first performances of new and original work.

Mr Butt, from Onehouse near Stowmarket, established himself as a best selling composer, completing 276 works ranging from avant garde to more popular music.


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Mr Butt was married to Kathleen for 49 years and the couple had two sons and four grandchildren. Mrs Butt said: "We met as students and had a marvellous life together, life was never dull. Jim was a very quiet, shy man, with a wide range of interests. He lived for his music, but was also interested in literature, painting and old architecture."

Born at Northwood, Middlesex in 1929, Mr Butt was educated in Yorkshire before studying composition from 1944 onwards, with Dr Erwin Stein, Benjamin Britten, Matyas Seiber and pianoforte with Franz Osborne.

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From 1947 to 1948 he served with the RAF, and then went to the Dartington School of Music, where he completed his studies under the supervision of Imogen Holst. As a student he was awarded the 1950 Dartington Open Scholarship, allowing a brief period of study in Berlin where he met leading European musicians of the time.

Mr Butt later toured England with the Continental Ballet Company, as first pianist before becoming deputy headteacher of Cary Park School, Torquay, in 1954. As a pianist he took part in many recitals, broadcasts and recordings, both as a soloist and accompanist. His first music to be published was a part-song, Orpheus, copyrighted in 1952; from that time 75 works were published, selling 157,000 copies between them.

During 1995 Mr Butt suffered a severe stroke, losing the use of his right side and his speech. But he kept the ability to write music, using the unaffected side of his brain, and would work on a computer and keyboard several hours a day.

Mr Butt died on February 24 at the West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds and his funeral was held yesterday

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