Robert Butts

Conductor ● Composer ● Educator

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Meet Maestro Robert W. Butts

  • Maestro Robert W. Butts
  • Maestro Butts Conducting Tchaikovsky
  • Maestro Butts with BONJ
  • Maestro Butts Introduces his newest composition
  • Maestro Butts in Verona, Italy
  • Maestro Butts at The National Opera Center, New York City
  • Bob at Washington's Headquarters, Morristown
  • Maestro Butts at Washington Square
  • Maestro Butts in London
  • Maestro Butts in Western New Jersey
  • Maestro Butts Discusses the Music of Richard Strauss
  • Finale concert of Wagner, Strauss, Hubler and Mozart

Dr. Robert W. Butts has shared his passion, enthusiasm and knowledge of music through his work as conductor, composer, educator, writer, and lecturer.  He has conducted major orchestra and opera performances in New Jersey as well as guest appearances in Europe, most recently making his Italian debut in Crema with a performance of Pergolesi's La Serva Padrona and the world premiere of his composition Saturnalia Strings.   His Early Morning Suite for classical guitar has been featured in recitals in Italy and England as well as in the United States.   He teaches in the Casperson School of Graduate Studies at Drew Univeristy and at Montclair State University.   He lectures regularly for New Jersey Council for the Humanities.   He has recieved awards from Morris Arts and The American Prize and recently recieved the 2016 Tourism Award from The Morris County Tourism Bureau.   In May 2016, he led a performance of Alessandro Scarlatti's la Giuditta which he edited from the original 1693 manuscript found in the archives of the Washington's Headquarters Museum in Morristown, New Jersey and has created a documentary film about the manuscript and performing the oratoiro.  He has presented major scholarly papers at session of The American Musicological Society, The Sonneck Society, and The Country Music Conference.


Maestro Butts received his MA in Musicology from the University of Iowa with a specialty in 17th and 18th century music.   He started conducting in order to bring orchestra music of the period to modern day performances.  He has developed his conducting career to include music of all periods and styles, as well as musical theater and opera.  

  • Studied conducting at Juilliard with Maestro Vincent La Selva; received DMA in conducting from The American Conservatory of Music in Chicago; attended master classes in Toronto, Canada, and Berlin, Germany.
  • Has conducted in Romania, Czech Republic, Russia, and Italy
  • Has served as Principal Conductor for The Garden State Sinfonia, Opera at Florham, The Little Opera Company, New Jersey Concert Opera, Eastern Opera Company of New Jersey, and Opera Theatre of Montclair
  • Has conducted concerts featuring The New Jersey Symphony, The Masterwork Chorus, The Plainfield Symphony, and Harmonium
  • Is only conductor to have conducted three Wagner operas (Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried) and three Handel operas (Acis and Galatea, Semele, Giulio Cesare) in New Jersey
  • Has conducted performances of over forty operas ranging from Monteverdi to Modern
  • In addition to his own compositions, Maestro Butts has conducted world premiere works by Vatican composer Monsignor Marco Frisina as well as works by Ting Ho, John Franek, Amy Reich, Richard Russell, Andrew Pecota, Derwyn Holder, and Paul Zeigler
  • He has edited and conducted modern day performances of works by 17th and 18th century composers 
  • Has taught conducting at Montclair State University and The College of Saint Elizabeth


Maestro Butts has composed music since he was still a teenager, alternating between writing songs and instrumental compositions.  He often writes both the lyrics and the music in his songs and theater works.  

  • Was twice a finalist in the Traynor Composition Competition
  • Symphony #1—The Joshua Symphony was commissioned by the Plaut family, premiered in 2014
  • Composed The Triangle as part of Atlanta Opera’s 24 Hour Opera Project
  • Operas have been performed by Eastern Opera Company and In Mid Air Productions
  • Mark Twain and the General and The Cask of Amontillado were performed at The National Opera Center in New York City—2015
  • Saturnalia Strings was premiered in Crema, Italy—2015
  • Early Morning Suite for classical guitar was premiered by Stanley Alexandrowicz in London, England in 2015
  • Two Movements for Piano was premiered by Lynn Czae in Paris, France in 2016
  • For Information and video clips of his compositions, please click here.


  • Has taught at The Casperson School of Graduate Studies at Drew University, Montclair State University, the College of Saint Elizabeth, and Fairleigh Dickinson University
  • Has lectured for The New Jersey Council for the Humanities, the New Jersey Symphony, The New Jersey State Opera, Elderhostel, and New Jersey Continuing Education Programs
  • Has presented papers at conferences of The American Musicological Society, The Sonneck Society, and The Country Music Conference
  • Reviews and articles have appeared in Opera News, Sonneck Society Journal, Classical New Jersey Journal, Recorder Pulishing Papers, Journal of American Folklore, and Continuo
  • Created and hosted the music education cable broadcast program Concerts and Conversations which has been broadcast on HTTV and Cablevision

Awards and Honors

  • Tourism Award - 2016 - Morris County Tourism Bureau
  • Comcast Newsmaker—2015—Comcast
  • 2015 Honored Artist—2015—The American Prize
  • Vytautas Marijosius Memorial Award—2011—The American Prize
  • Arts Professional of the Year—2003—Arts Council of the Morris Area

For more information on courses Dr. Butts is teaching, please click here.

For imformation on bringing Dr. Butts to your group to talk and for sample videos of his discussions of Rossini, Beethoven and Mendelssohn, please click here.