This year, Utrecht University is awarding four honorary doctorates, to: sociologist Robert J. Sampson, marine biologist Sybil Seitzinger, architect Francine Houben and musician Jordi Savall. The award ceremony took place during the 380th Dies Natalis (Anniversary Day) of Utrecht University in the Domkerk cathedral on 29 March.
UTRECHT UNIVERSITY HONORIS CAUSA SPEECH
It is for me, a great honour to receive this honorary doctorate from the University of Utrecht, and especially at the celebration of its 380 years anniversary. Four centuries of research and education, which have been essential to the cultural development of Utrecht and the Netherlands. My admiration and gratitude also to a city and a country, that has been a pioneer and continues to work in the investigation, discovering and projection of early music with his great musicians, educational institutions and Early Music Festivals, and where I have had the honour, for more than 45 years, to participate with Montserrat Figueras and all my musicians in numerous musical projects. I like also to express my personal affection for this beautiful city where today I have the privilege to share a home and a new life with my wife Maria Bartels, a former student of this university.
We, human beings, need music. However music only exists when a singer or an instrumentalist brings it to life, which makes it the most spiritual of all forms of art. Since the 70s “a revolution” has been developed: the interpretation with original instruments and the rediscovery of Baroque, Renaissance and medieval music. But even at the beginning of the XXI century the vast majority of the existing public musical institutions, correspond to a Central European cultural model of the nineteenth century, when only the music of that time was performed. Musicians, who are masters in ancient Occidental music repertoires and ancient Oriental oral traditions, are actually the real living museums of musical art. Like museums, opera houses or national orchestras, a stable institutional support is needed also for these musicians. Without them we could not hear all the great music from the past and from other important cultures. Therefor we need them also to bring the spirituality and the beauty of these repertories to the young generations.
We live in a profoundly unjust world and in which there is a constant and tragic escalation of violence, a radicalization of populist and xenophobic movements, and at the same time a terrible general loss of the fundamental values of solidarity and humanity. 5000 Years of “culture of war” has demonstrated that conflicts haven’t ever been resolved by violence. It is now very urgent to create a new “culture of peace”, able to promote understanding in order to resolve the current problems of immigration, violence, inequality and injustice by a real intercultural dialogue.
I believe, as Dostoyevsky said that “beauty will save the world”, but for this it is necessary to live with dignity and have access to Education and Culture.
Utrecht, 28 March 2016