In 2004 the Harrison Medal was inaugurated by the Society for Musicology in Ireland in honour of Frank Llewellyn Harrison (1905–1987), the Irish musicologist who made a seminal contribution to the study of medieval music (especially music in medieval Britain) and to the study of ethnomusicology. Harrison held positions in Canada and the United States before being appointed to a Lectureship in Music at Oxford in 1952; he was appointed Reader in the History of Music there in 1962. Harrison subsequently became Professor of Ethnomusicology at the University of Amsterdam in 1970. A detailed account of his career and publications by Robin Elliott is available in EMIR, Vol. 1, pp. 469–471.

In 2018 the award was renamed the Irish Research Council - Harrison Medal in recognition of the ongoing contribution towards the funding of the award that is now made by the Irish Research Council, which the SMI gratefully ackowledges.

The Medal is awarded by the President and Council of the SMI to recognize outstanding achievements and excellence in research in musicology. The latest award, for 2022, was made to Dr Ita Beausang in recognition of her outstanding contribution to contextual studies of music in Ireland, from the late-eighteenth to the mid-twentieth century. The presentation ceremony and Dr Beausang’s Harrison lecture, Twenty Years a-Growing: SMI, 2003-2023, took place in the Recital Hall, TU Dublin Conservatoire, on Tuesday 22 November at 6.30 pm. The citation for Dr Beausang, read by the President of the SMI, John O'Flynn, may be read here.

The other laureates to date are:

2004: Professor Christoph Wolff, for his contribution to Bach scholarship;
2007: Professor Margaret Bent, in recognition of her contribution to the study of music in the Middle Ages;
2009: Professor Kofi Agawu, for his contribution to historical musicology, analysis and the study of African music;
2011: Dr Christopher Hogwood, for his exemplary combination of musical scholarship and the performance of early music;
2013: Professors Barra Boydell and Harry White to mark the publication of The Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland.
2016: Professor Susan Youens, for her outstanding contribution to Schubert studies and Lieder studies.
2018: Professor Jim Samson, for his excellent scholarship in nineteenth-century music and the music of southeastern Europe.
2021: Professor Michael Beckerman, for his outstanding research in Czech and eastern European music.

Irish Research Council