Professor Harry Mairson selected as this year’s Rieman and Baketel Fellow for Music at the Harvard-Radcliffe Institute

Harry Mairson holds instrument

Computer Science Professor Harry Mairson, with the 1700 Stradivari “Stauffer-ex Cristiani” violoncello (Museo del Violino, Cremona)

Harry Mairson, professor of computer science, has been selected as the Rieman and Baketel Fellow for Music for the 2023-2024 academic year at the Harvard-Radcliffe Institute. The Radcliffe Fellowships are annually awarded to a select group of scholars in the humanities, sciences, social sciences, and arts, as well as writers, journalists, and other distinguished professionals. 

The Radcliffe Institute’s announcement of the awards described the various projects as “the urgent, the beautiful, and the vast: from reckoning with the challenges of climate change to creating digital models of iconic Italian violins to detecting distant galaxies."

The fellowship will allow Mairson to continue his work on building an online library of CT data for the study of classical stringed instruments by Antonio Stradivari and other luminaries of the Italian “Golden Age” of violin making. This effort is intended to improve the “mind’s eye” of the instrument maker and musicologist alike.

Mairson’s curatorial and analytical efforts are complemented by his activity as an instrument maker; currently he is completing a violoncello based on the 1700 Stradivari “Stauffer-ex Cristiani” cello in the Museo del Violino in Cremona.  His last violoncello was recently played (by his son Simon, no less) as the soloist instrument in a performance of Max Bruch’s cello concerto “Kol Nidre."

Mairson’s computer science courses focus on the mathematical and logical aspects of computer science, including discrete structures, functional programming and their interpreters and compilers, and the relation of type systems for programming languages to topics in proof theory.

His Radcliffe work on a digital library of iconic stringed instruments will provide high-resolution open access to the geometry and construction of these remarkable, canonical instruments, for examination by musicologists, organologists, and luthiers. It is also intended as an exemplar of non-invasive museum curatorship, protecting valued artifacts while giving full digital access to them.


Return to the BrandeisNOW homepage