Masaaki Suzuki receives the 2015 Gutenberg Teaching Award

Mainz University honors the director of the Bach Collegium Japan for his interdisciplinary approach to academic teaching


The Gutenberg Teaching Council (GTC) of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) grants the 2015 Gutenberg Teaching Award to the internationally renowned musician Professor Masaaki Suzuki. By means of this award, the Gutenberg Teaching Council emphasizes the importance that Mainz University attributes to academic instruction in the arts and sciences. The award is to appreciate the work of national and international researchers, artists, and other persons outside of JGU who have made significant contributions to the ongoing development of teaching and the improvement of teaching quality in academic education. "In the person of Professor Masaaki Suzuki, we are honoring an outstanding musician whose artistic talent and commitment are celebrated worldwide," explained Professor Georg Krausch, President of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. "As director and conductor of the famous Bach Collegium Japan and in his teaching as Professor of Organ and Harpsichord at the Tokyo University of the Arts, Masaaki Suzuki merits recognition for his contributions to academic teaching in the fields of instrumental music, conducting, and the vocal arts because his educational work crosses subject and cultural borders. By presenting him with the 2015 Gutenberg Teaching Award, we wish to pay tribute to his endeavors that are fully in accordance with our concept of interdisciplinary teaching in the international context," added Krausch.

Born in Kōbe in Japan in 1954, Masaaki Suzuki studied composition, organ, and harpsichord at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music and at the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam. As Music Director of the Bach Collegium Japan, which he founded in 1990, Suzuki regularly gives concerts with his ensemble at important events and festivals in Europe and the United States. He is considered one of the world's leading authorities regarding the works of Johann Sebastian Bach. His own artistic reputation is founded on his impressive interpretative touches and the authenticity of his performance. Last year he completed a mammoth project that he began in collaboration with the Bach Collegium Japan in 1995 and that involved recording all of Bach’s church cantatas. This won the ECHO Klassik award in the Editorial Achievement of the Year category. Furthermore, Suzuki was presented with the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany already in 2001. In 2010, he and his ensemble were awarded the German Record Critics' Prize and the Diapason d'Or de l'Année award for their recording of the Bach motets. This recording also won the 2011 BBC Music Magazine Award. The ensemble has begun to expand its repertoire, most recently releasing a recording of Mozart's "Requiem". Suzuki was given the Bach Medal of the City of Leipzig in 2012 and the Bach Prize of the Royal Academy of Music in 2013.

"In addition to honoring his artistic achievements, we also wish to draw attention to Professor Masaaki Suzuki's extraordinary teaching capacity," said Professor Harald Paulsen, Director of the Gutenberg Teaching Council. Suzuki teaches organ and harpsichord at his home university, the Tokyo University of the Arts. As founder and director of the Early Music department there, he was on the Choral Conducting Faculty at the Yale School of Music and at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music of Yale University in the United States from 2009 to 2013, where he retains close links with the Yale Schola Cantorum as its principal guest conductor. "Professor Masaaki Suzuki will be coming to Mainz next year to take up a visiting professorship associated with the Gutenberg Teaching Award. Here he will work with students, faculty members, and music scholars participating in the BAROQUE VOCAL – College for Early Music artistic excellence program at the Mainz School of Music," added Paulsen.

The Gutenberg Teaching Council was established at Mainz University in early 2011. Its primary strategic objective is to design and advance teaching and learning structures at JGU. Moreover, the Gutenberg Teaching Council initiates measures for the promotion of academic teaching competence and skills with specific reference to aspects of research orientation, interdisciplinarity, internationalism, and career orientation. The Gutenberg Teaching Award comes with a prize of EUR 10,000 and was awarded for the first time in 2014.