Prof. Hill

Posted by Williams College on its website:

To the Williams Community,

I was saddened to learn over the weekend that Victor E. Hill IV, the Thomas T. Read Professor of Mathematics, Emeritus, has passed away. He was 76.

Victor was known widely not only as a math professor but also as an accomplished harpsichordist-organist. He played more than 900 concerts throughout the U.S. and Europe, and for many years was organist-choirmaster at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Williamstown. From time to time, he would need help moving his harpsichord into Griffin Hall or out to the Clark for a concert. He usually would enlist several strong students to help, but occasionally a fellow faculty member. I am told he took great pride in his custom-built harpsichord, moving it a day before a concert so it could adjust to ambient temperature and he could tune it.

From 1982 until 2011, he served as archivist for the Association of Anglican Musicians, an international organization of professionals in the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, and the Church of England. Since 1996 he had been a member of the editorial board of the Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians, and from 1998 to 2010 was the association’s recordings reviewer. His most requested talk and performance was “The Mathematical Aspects of the Music of Bach,” and he also performed in a concert series he founded at Williams. Additionally, he was well known for his performances of the complete “Art of Fugue” by J.S. Bach.

“One of my reasons for coming to Williams was because I was looking for a liberal arts college that would accept music as a part of my life—as a legitimate part of my work—and I found one here,” Victor wrote many years ago for a publication highlighting faculty. Indeed, with his interest in math, music, and religion, Victor exemplified the liberal arts ideal of interdisciplinary studies.

Victor came to Williams in 1966 following undergraduate work at the Carnegie Institute of Technology and graduate work at the University of Wisconsin and University of Oregon. His principal mathematical interests were in group representation theory and the history of mathematics. Over the years, he also taught courses in mathematical logic, mathematics of finance, and he taught a popular Winter Study course on C.S. Lewis. He was the author of Groups, Representations, and Characters (Hafner/Macmillan 1975) and Groups and Characters (Chapman & Hall, 2000); he published scholarly articles in both mathematics and music. He retired from Williams in 2006.

As a faculty member, he was admired for his teaching, and he was very active in his fields of study, belonging to numerous groups and associations in both mathematics and music. When not on campus or performing music, Victor loved swimming and canoeing at his summer home on a lake near Sturbridge, Mass.

Surviving are a daughter, Victoria Hill Resnick; a son, Christopher Hill; and two granddaughters.

I haven’t heard news yet about services for Victor, but will pass that information along in Daily Messages once I do.

Our thoughts are with Victor’s family and friends.


Adam Falk

To read the obituary from the Berkshire Eagle, click here.

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