Sphemusations was the imprint of my father, James Butt. The name, which he joked sounded like a musical sneeze, was the response after being informed that the name "Sphere Music Publishing" was unavailable, since there was already a Sphere publishing company.
Specializing in music for educational and religious institutions, the company ceased trading in 1995 but stocks of printed music are now available from The Book Patch (total US$ 5 for piano score ($3.75) and vocal solo part ($1.25)). Of particular interest are the Little Boy Dances for use in primary school education, and the various sacred solos for use in churches.
Sacred solos by James Butt:
Please contact me for more information about the Sphemusations edition.
228 Deer Run Lane
Professionally employed from the age of sixteen, the reputation of James Butt as a composer is established internationally. His oeuvre comprises 276 completed works, ranging from avant garde to more popular musical artistry, unfolding a clearly defined individual style.
An important principle in his composition has always been to try to create music which is beautiful, giving listeners and performers a pleasurable experience.
Born at Northwood, Middlesex, in 1929 James Butt was educated at Kidstones School, in Yorkshire, before studying composition, from 1944 onwards, with Dr. Erwin Stein, Benjamin Britten, (doing large quantities of copying in exchange for composition lessons,) and Matyas Seiber, as well as pianoforte with Franz Osborne. Between 1947-1948 he served with the R.A.F. as an RIO. before going to the Dartington School of Music, where he completed his studies under the supervision of Imogen Holst. (The Dartington Music School has since become a department of Exeter University.) While still a student he was awarded the Dartington Open Scholarship for 1950, which made possible a brief period of study in Berlin, where he met many leading European musicians of that time.
On leaving Dartington Hall in 1952 James Butt toured England with the Continental Ballet Company, playing as first pianist, before becoming deputy headmaster of Cary Park School, Torquay, in 1954. In 1963 James Butt founded the company of Sphemusations, which has since grown rapidly.
As a pianist James Butt has taken part in many recitals, broadcasts, and recordings,
both as soloist and accompanist, playing in duet with Franz Osborne, Dr. Imogen Holst,
C.R.E. Niven Miller, Pamela Hind O'Malley, Joseph Segal, (who later became founder-leader
of the Northern Sinfonia,) Neil van Allen, and Noelle Barker, C.RE.; an early success being
the first recording
As conductor of the Woodbridge orchestra he increased the scope of their repertoire, and number of concerts, giving first performances of new and original works.
Among works which have been performed are four operas entitled
The first music by James Butt to be published was a part-song entitled
Music performed to large audiences includes Robert Burns'
Commissioned works include the song cycle
Following a disabling stroke in 1995, James Butt continued to write music until his death in March 2003.
'Niven Miller's best singing came in the set of songs by James
Butt; the latter has been a pupil of Matyas Seiber and
Imogen Holst, and, for what the terms are worth, represents the tradition of British song-writing.
The means were quite simple, both as regards the vocal line, and the piano part. But the composer showed an ability,
like Britten, of suddenly transforming the commonplace into inspiration.
It is a kind of x-ray quality, searching out the meaning of the verse. It was interesting, too, to find that the words
'wantons' and 'precious stones' in Herrick's
With music by James Butt, who lives at Torquay, a new opera '
Myra Verney introduced London to
Another item of interest in this intelligently varied programme was the first performance anywhere of James Butt's
Spheare Publications, (now Sphemusations).
The Craftsmanship (of "
The Carol of the Ship
Taking a traditional carol as a theme, this skillfully crafted music carries the salt tang of the open sea and a wooden ship under sail "with angels flying fast".
for voice and piano
Loveliest of Trees
The poem by A.E.Housman, set to music by James Butt, this song is a refreshing breath of English spring air with the rhythm of a carefree canter.
for voice and piano
Address to a Haggis
Robert Burns' poem "Address to a Haggis" has been an important part of Burns Night Suppers for many years. The highlight of the supper, the haggis is carried to the table in high ceremony, accompanied by the music of the highland pipes, and the Address is read before serving the haggis to the diners.
James Butt's setting of Robert Burns' "Address to a Haggis" was composed in 1957 in response to a request from the Scottish baritone Niven Miller. With rich harmonies pleasing to the ear and unmistakeably characteristic of the best traditions of the mid-twentieth century, the composition pays tribute to the long traditions of Scottish folk music with its liberal gracenotes, while at the same time honouring the nature of the poetry; the serious and dignified eulogy gives way to a hasty scramble for the best delicacies before a chord worthy of a hymn announces "bethankit!"
The music also embodies the virtue of brevity, enabling the song to be performed and the Scottish national dish
honoured properly without subjecting it to the indignity of being served lukewarm.
for voice and piano
A Rainbow Plantation
For many years Anna Adams accompanied her family to the Hebridean isle of Scarp for summer holidays where her husband Norman Adams produced some of his finest paintings, and the elemental forces that govern island life were distilled in Anna's writings. This evocative song cycle sets these poems to music that reflects the changing moods of the island and the unique insights of the poet.
for voice and harp
For music, and more, of interest to Christian Scientists everywhere, visit Solo-Finder