Adams University Research Professor Christoph Wolff has been elected to Germany’s Orden Pour le Mérite für Wissenschaften und Künste, joining 14 Nobel laureates and other international leaders in the arts and sciences in the historic honor society. Past members have included Darwin, Einstein, T.S. Eliot, Longfellow, Mendelssohn, Rossini, Brahms, and Verdi. In 1860, Louis Agassiz, founder of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, became the first Harvard faculty member so honored; Byzantinist Ernst Kitzinger the second. Wolff, a music historian who joined the Harvard faculty in 1976, was chosen in September and will be formally inducted into the order in ceremonies in Berlin next May.
At present consisting of 78 members, approximately half from Germany and half from other countries, the organization has recognized distinguished achievement since its creation by the king of Prussia in 1842.
Current chancellor of the order is biologist and Nobelist Christiane Nüsslein-Vollhard, Harvard S.D. ’93 (hon.). Other current members include historians Fritz Stern and Lorraine Daston, biologist and Nobelist Günter Blobel, composers Pierre Boulez and György Kurtág, conductors Daniel Barenboim and Nikolaus Harnoncourt, pianist Alfred Brendel, legal scholar Gerhard Casper, semiotician and writer Umberto Eco, and economist and Nobelist Robert Solow.
Wolff served at Harvard as chair of the Music Department, acting director of the University Library, and dean of GSAS. He is the author of “Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician” (2000, translated into 11 languages) and “Mozart at the Gateway to His Fortune: Serving the Emperor, 1788-1791” (2012, translated into four languages).