Medal hits the right note for academic
Hearing he’d won a prestigious medal for shedding light on 18th century tunes was music to Dean Sutcliffe’s ears.
The Auckland University associate professor is the first New Zealander and one of only two people in the southern hemisphere to receive a Dent Medal from the Royal Musical Association.
The medal is named after Edward J Dent, the first professor of music at Cambridge University.
An interest in music, its different styles and why those styles change earned Mr Sutcliffe the accolade, which has been recognising outstanding contributions to music study since 1961.
“It’s a nice honour in recognition of work done,” he says.
“You really get a sense of what your peers think of you.”
Until 2006 the Hillsborough resident had spent 22 years in Cambridge, England, studying and lecturing in music at the university.
During that time he produced re- search that analyses the work of classical composers such as Austrian Joseph Haydn.
“His certain style of keyboard writing appealed to me. It is a comic style of music, optimistic, bright, chirpy, funny and quick changing,” he says.
He says aristocrats and royalty warmed to the light-hearted social music that created controversy at the time because it was written for the “upper echelons of society” rather than maintaining a religious element.
The Royal Musical Association offers high praise to Mr Sutcliffe, who will be presented with his medal in London next year.
“He has shed new light on works by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven with which we thought we were familiar,” says the association.
Auckland University’s head of music Professor Robert Constable says this type of international acknowledgement is extremely exciting.
“This is a great honour. Dean’s work in 18th century music studies is at the cutting edge of international scholarship.”
Musical medal: Associate professor Dean Sutcliffe will be the first New Zealander to be presented with a Dent Medal in London next year.