Monday, 11 June 2012

John Rutter - Love him or hate him?

I want to start this post by admitting: I love John Rutter. In the world of classical music, musicians are often very harsh about Rutter's musical style because they find it to be too cheesy, too simple or even boring. This post is to argue the case that John Rutter is, in fact, a wonderful composer.
John Rutter
Born 1945

As a composer, conductor, arranger, editor and record producer, Rutter's musical influence comes mainly from traditional French and English choral music, as well as some influence from American songs. Rutter is best known for his choral anthems and hymns with a typical piano/organ accompaniment, often rearranged for full orchestra. The anthems he is most known for are probably: 'For the Beauty of the Earth', 'All Things Bright and Beautiful' and 'The Lord Bless You and Keep You' (which happens to be my favorite). Despite the fact Rutter often composes religious music, he has said that he is not particularly religious himself, but very spiritual. This definitely comes across in the melodies and harmonic textures of his music. 

Whenever I've had a conversation with other musicians about John Rutter, I am always told that I'm stupid for liking his music. I even expressed my like for his music to a prospective university professor and got the reply: ''well, I suppose someone has to like him''. In a way I agree with some that he doesn't have particularly complex or challenging music, and the harmonies are often very cheesy and predictable. But, I stand by the fact that his music serves a spiritual purpose that brings joy to many. Personally, I find it uplifting and satisfying to listen to (although I will admit that it's not something I'm always in the mood for). 

My favorite of his anthems is 'The Lord Bless You and Keep You'. This is by far the most emotional and touching of all his choral anthems. My school choir have been singing it for about fifteen years, and I still seem to be the only person who doesn't groan when my choirmaster takes it out of its folder. Here is the track for you to listen to and decide for yourself:


  1. A University professor reacted in a similar way to your prospective one when I included Richard Rodney Bennett in a list of contemporary composers. I think the wording was “But that’s FILM music!”

  2. I don't know, personally i just find his music to cheesy. I prefer Stanford to this because it's more complex and has more variety. Even though i found them similar, stanford comes out on top just because of his complexity and variety in emotion. Where John rutter's music is basically something out of a 1970's British Disney movie, Standford had real emotion behind his works. It's just my opinion. By the way i'm a former choral singer for saint Thomas in Manhattan.