Alfred Brendel awarded Honorary Degree

Posted on 18 January 2018

Pianist, poet and author Alfred Brendel is among eight leading figures from the world of performing arts, politics, business and journalism to receive honorary degrees from the University of York this weekend (19 and 20 January 2018).

The University of York confers the honorary degree of Doctor of the University honoris causa on individuals who have made outstanding contributions to society.

The recipients of 2018 honorary degrees, which will be awarded as part of the University's winter graduation ceremonies, are:

  • Former President of the Federal Republic of Germany Professor Dr Horst Koehler.
  • Pianist, poet and author Alfred Brendel.
  • Vasily Petrenko, chief conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. 
  • Sacha Romanovitch, the first woman to lead a major City accountancy firm.
  • One of the three founding executives of Freeserve, the UK’s largest Internet Service Provider, Rob Wilmot
  • Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, engineer, educator and government advisor.
  • Dame Vivian Hunt, Managing Partner for McKinsey & Company’s United Kingdom and Ireland offices who has been identified as one of the 30 most influential people in the City of London by the Financial Times. 
  • Award-winning journalist Orla Guerin, currently based in Cairo for BBC News.


Credit: Jean-Baptiste Millot

Alfred Brendel is regarded as one of the greatest pianists. Known particularly for his performances of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, he's also a poet and author.

He was born in Wiesenberg, Czechoslovakia, and began piano lessons at the age of six. Mainly self-taught, he gave his first public recital at the age of seventeen, and ended his international career sixty years later by appearing with the Vienna Philharmonic that had awarded him honorary membership while the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra had bestowed him with the Hans von Bülow Medal.

As a writer of essays and poetry, his books have appeared in many languages including English, German, French, Spanish, Japanese and Korean.

Alfred’s belief in the primacy of the composer and his dedication to serving their intentions is an admirable inspiration to music students all over the world.