NWU honours virtuoso Prof Herman Hubert van der Spuy

The North-West University (NWU) has bestowed an honorary doctorate on Prof Herman Hubert van der Spuy for his exceptional contributions that have helped shape the South African musical landscape.

Prof Van der Spuy’s influence and contributions as an adjudicator, examiner and adviser at music institutions throughout South Africa earned him this recognition on 26 October.

“This honorary doctorate came very unexpectedly, and I consider it to be the biggest recognition in my career. I have always wanted to complete another doctorate, and when this came, I felt fulfilled. I have worked with students from various universities throughout my career, including with many talented master’s degree and doctoral students from the NWU, and this makes it even more special,” says Prof Van der Spuy.

Throughout his career, Prof Van der Spuy has made outstanding contributions in the field of music and he has had an enormous influence through his expertise and involvement. His experience in examining different instruments and voices has made him a particularly versatile examiner with profound knowledge and insight.

He has contributed significantly to the development of talented young South African musicians, as exemplified by his work as a former director of Unisa’s Directorate Music. His leadership is credited with helping to build Unisa’s graded music exam system to the point where it was able to hold approximately 10 000 certificate examinations and 800 licentiate examinations.

Through initiatives such as the Hubert van der Spuy National Music Competition, which carries his name, South African children of all backgrounds have had opportunities to showcase their musical abilities.

His involvement in music extends to having been the former editor of Musicus, the journal of Unisa’s Directorate Music, an adjudicator of music competitions and external examiner and adviser to several university music departments in the country. This includes the NWU’s School of Music.

Prof Van der Spuy has been an honorary member of the South African Society of Music Teachers since 2003, after having served as president of the society for four terms.

His pioneering research on South African-born composer Priaulx Rainier has paved the way for others to continue his work on this previously academically neglected but important woman in South African music history.

Recognition for his excellent work has come from far and wide. He has been a recipient of various high honours such as the prestigious Huberte Rupert Prize from the South African Academy for Science and Arts, as well as the Honorary Licentiate in Music (ELM) from Unisa.

Prof Van der Spuy was born in George in the Western Cape. Among his alma maters are the universities of Stellenbosch and Port Elizabeth, as well as the Akademie Für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Vienna.

He has contributed to various publications and public lectures and has been involved in several professional societies.


The North-West University (NWU) bestowed an honorary doctorate on Prof Herman Hubert van der Spuy, with him is Prof Linda du Plessis, deputy vice-chancellor for planning and Vanderbijlpark Campus operations.

Submitted on Thu, 10/26/2023 - 14:31