Australian maestro receives first honorary doctorate at the grand old age of 82.
Australian conductor and pianist Maestro Richard Bonynge AC CBE HonLLD has been conferred with his first honorary doctorate. The honorary degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa was conferred by Monash University today, recognising Bonynge’s outstanding lifetime artistic and leadership achievements.
Monash University Chancellor Dr Alan Finkel and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ed Byrne conferred the honorary degree at a ceremony at the University's Clayton campus in Melbourne. “For more than 60 years, Maestro Richard Bonynge has been advancing the art of music performance – he is unquestionably one of the foremost musicians of our age,” Professor Byrne said. “As a world-class conductor, pianist, coach, scholar, musicologist, and mentor, his achievements have made him an international household name and one of Australia’s greatest musicians.”
Richard Bonynge, 82, made his debut as a pianist with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at age 14. Throughout his illustrious career, he has conducted in the world's leading opera houses in Europe, North and South America, Australia and New Zealand and Asia. His extensive career includes innumerable performances with his wife, the late Dame Joan Sutherland.
Born in Sydney, Australia, he studied at the NSW Conservatory of Music and the Royal College of Music. He served as Music Director of the Sutherland-Williamson Grand Opera Company in 1965 (Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane), as Artistic Director of the Vancouver Opera from 1974-77 and Music Director of The Australian Opera from 1976-86. He has received worldwide acclaim as a scholar of bel canto opera and is celebrated for leading the renaissance of eighteenth and early-nineteenth century musical theatre, such as Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots.
His and Dame Joan’s legacy continues in the Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge Foundation, which sponsors and supports young Australian singers. Bonynge was made a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2012. He has previously received Australian, Italian and French honours, and is a Commander of the British Empire.
The University's Council can approve an honorary degree for any person, regardless of whether they are a graduate of a university, in recognition of their distinguished contribution to a branch of learning, the arts, or distinguished service to the public. Over the 50-year history of Monash University, honorary degrees have been presented to dignitaries including the Honourable Peter Costello AC (2013), Nobel Laureate Professor Dan Shechtman (2012), business leader Sir Rod Eddington (2011), former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser (2010), Musician Nick Cave and architect John Denton (2007), Author David Williamson (1990), Mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary (1985) and his Royal Highness, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (1981).