Masaaki Suzuki

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Masaaki Suzuki (鈴木 雅明 Suzuki Masaaki?, born 29 April 1954) is a Japanese organist, harpsichordist and conductor, and the founder and musical director of the Bach Collegium Japan. He also teaches and conducts at Yale University and has conducted orchestras and choruses around the world.

He was born in Kobe to parents who were both Christians and amateur musicians; his father had worked professionally as a pianist.[1] Masaaki Suzuki began playing organ professionally at church services at the age of 12.[1] He earned degrees in composition and organ at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, then earned Soloist Diplomas at the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam, where he studied harpsichord and organ with Ton Koopman and Piet Kee and improvisation with Klaas Bolt.[2]

From 1981 to 1983 he was a harpsichord instructor at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Duisburg, Germany. In 1983 he returned to Japan, where he began teaching at Kobe Shoin Women's University. In 1990 he founded Bach Collegium Japan, a baroque orchestra and chorus. The group began giving concerts regularly in 1992, and made its first recordings three years later, when they began recording Bach's complete cantatas for the Swedish label BIS Records. They completed the 55-volume series of church cantatas in 2013. As of 2014, they have recorded four CDs of Bach's secular cantatas, which they will record complete. The ensemble has also recorded all the large choral works of Bach; their St. John Passion and Christmas Oratorio were both selected as Gramophone (magazine)’s "Recommended Recordings," and the St. John Passion was also winner in the 18th and 19th-century choral music category at the Cannes Classical Awards in 2000. Their recording of Bach's Motets won a German Record Critics’ Award ( Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik ), Diapason d'Or of the Year 2010 and a BBC Music Magazine Award in 2011.

Suzuki is also currently recording Bach's complete works for solo harpsichord and is one of the few keyboard players to have recorded all four books of Bach's Clavier-Übung (including book 3, which is for organ). He and the Bach Collegium Japan have also recorded the Bach concertos for violin and his Brandenburg Concertos and Orchestral Suites. With his son Masato Suzuki (a harpsichordist, organist, conductor and composer), he and Bach Collegium Japan recently recorded Bach's complete concertos for two harpsichords.[3]

He is the founder of the early music department at the Tokyo University of the Arts and taught there until 2010.[4] He is now Principal Guest Conductor of the Yale Schola Cantorum and Visiting Professor of Choral Conducting at Yale University in a joint appointment between the Yale School of Music and Yale Institute of Sacred Music, where he is Artist in Residence.[5] As a guest conductor, Suzuki has led the New York Philharmonic,[6] Boston Symphony Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart, Philharmonia Baroque, Collegium Vocale Gent, Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic, and Tonhalle Orchestra of Zurich.[7]

In 2001 Suzuki was awarded the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. In 2012, Suzuki was awarded two of the world's leading Bach prizes: the Bach Prize, awarded by the Royal Academy of Music and sponsored by the Kohn Foundation,[8] and the Bach Medal from the City of Leipzig and its Bach Archiv.[9]


  1. ^ a b Bona, Suzanne (April 2014). "Interview with Masaaki Suzuki on her public-radio program Sunday Baroque". Sunday Baroque. 
  2. ^ Masakata Kanazawa, "Suzuki, Masaaki", Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed 15 January 2007)
  3. ^ "Bach – Concertos for Two Harpsichords". BIS Records. 
  4. ^ Booklet biography for Masaaki Suzuki, on the CD "Bach: Concertos for two harpsichords," BIS 2051 (2014)
  5. ^ "Masaaki Suzuki". 
  6. ^ Tommasini, Anthony (March 7, 2013). "A Pair of Magnificats Star in a Tribute to Bach and His Fan Mendelssohn". New York Times. 
  7. ^ "Masaaki Suzuki". 
  8. ^ Unknown (January 20, 2012). "Masaaki Suzuki awarded Bach Prize". London: Royal Academy of Music. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  9. ^ "Bach Medal". Bach-Archiv Leipzig. Retrieved 2015-08-08. 


  • Notes to performance of Bach's Mass in B minor at the Barbican, London, 30 May 2006.

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