Nikolay Akulov Eugeny Kondorsky Konstantin Belov


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Evgenii I. Kondorskii in Private Life

Evgenii Ivanovich Kondorskii was born in Orenburg, the Urals, on August 9, 1908, in the family of Ivan Kondorskii and Anna Kondorskaya, nee Gutt. Having changed several cities, the family settled in Simferopol, the Crimea, where Evgenii spent his childhood and part of his youth. His father, Ivan Kondorskii, was chief medical inspector of Simferopol and his mother, Anna, taught geography at a local secondary school. Anna was in command of three foreign languages, English, German and French. She died in 1940 and Ivan Kondorskii died of hunger during World War II, in 1942. Ancestral record of the family is available down to the 17th century. The family’s initial last name was Istomin. Istomins had traditionally served as churchmen, except for Evegeny’s grandfather and great grandfather who were teachers of classical languages, Latin and Greek.

Evgenii’s uncle was founder of Moscow’s first-ever TB sanitarium called “High Hills” and located on an elevated bank of River Yauza not far from the Kurskii Railway Station.

Evgenii was the oldest child in the family. His sister, Valentina, is an acclaimed philologist, author of several books and teacher of western European literature. His brother, Rostislav, the family’s youngest, was eminent mining engineer. Rostislav Kondorskii took part in the construction of the Moscow Metro and worked at the coal mines of Donbass and Russia’s Far East.

Recalling their childhood, his sister and brother, said Evgenii was very energetic and always tried to be the leader in their games and other activities.

Evegnii’s best friend of the youth, Konstantin Semendyaev, became an eminent research mathematician.

A large period of Evgenii’s life was connected with the Crimea. The Kondorskii family had friendly relations with famous writers K. Trenev, M. Voloshin and the Smidovich family (V. Veresayev). Evgenii traveled all over the peninsula, mainly on foot, together with the family of Professor Pokatilo, the philologist.

Having a powerful memory, Evgenii, to the very end of his life recalled every detail of his Crimean period and every book he had read. He developed interest in physics and mathematics in his early years  in the early 20th he assembled a functional radio set and was talk of the town.

At the age of 16 Evgenii arrived in Moscow and enrolled in the Department of Physics and Mathematics of the Moscow State University. While studying at the university he lived at his uncle Mikhail who later recalled that Evgenii studied with aspiration and excitement and only sometimes complained that he had few friends.

In the wake of the German invasion Evgenii was relocated to the city of Kazan. Recalling this period of his life, his colleagues, specifically Professor M. Khrushchev, note Evgenii’s willingness to help people. He proved to be an excellent oven repairer. Evgenii himself refrained from speaking about that and not for once had this trait of his character manifested itself later. He loved to do good for people but never boasted of that.

In 1942 Evgenii returned to Moscow and resumed teaching at the MSU departments of physics and biology.

Evgenii had been married twice. His first wife, Lyudmila Lebedeva, was a research chemist and worked at the Central Research Institute of Transport. In this marriage Evgenii had two daughters, Yelena, born in 1940, and Anna, born in 1945.

I was Evgenii’s second wife. I graduated from the MSU Department of Physics in 1947 and in 1946 I started as research seismologist at the Institute of Physics of the Earth of the USSR Academy of Sciences where I work until now. Currently I am chief researcher at the Joint Institute of Physics of the Earth of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Doctor of Physics and Mathematics, professor and full member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences.

Evgenii and I had lived in marriage for 40 years (1949-1989) and had two sons, Igor, born in 1950, and Alexander, born in 1959. Igor graduated from the MSU Department of Physics in 1974 and has since then worked as researcher at the MSU Physics Department’s Molecular Physics Section. Alexander graduated from the MSU Department of Chemistry in 1982, worked as fellow researcher at the Institute of Organic Chemistry of the USSR Academy of Sciences, where he received six invention disclosure certificates, and later at the Physics Research and Development Conglomerate as senior engineer in the field of very large scale integration microcircuit production technology.

For three years after Igor arrived, 1950 through 1953, Evgenii, Igor and I lived in a tiny room in a shared flat in a house located at the Samotchny Lane in Moscow. In 1953 we moved to an apartment in the Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Skyscraper.

We had been a happy family and atmosphere in our home was invariably joyful and lovable, however, Evgenii was a very modest man and lived a rather secluded life. We maintained friendly relations with S. Vonsovskii, K. Belov, P. Stetsenko, V. Rode and O. Galkina. For several consecutive summers we rented a dacha at Nikolina Gora together with the family of A. Obukhov, director of the Institute of Atmosphere of the USSR Academy of Sciences.

In our Moscow apartment we received famous foreign scientists, Bozort, Kittel, Goodenough, Goldman and Anderson.

Nevertheless, we lived mainly in a rather secluded family cocoon. We celebrated birthdays, the New Year’s Day and other holidays in our traditional family way reciting poems, playing quiet games, looking family photographs and watching our home movies.

During all of his life my husband was a hardworker. It was almost impossible to seduce him off his study. However, in times of vacations, usually in mid winter and summer when children had their holidays, we often got together and took leisure time somewhere off Moscow. In winter we often went skiing. Evgenii was a remarkably speedy and indefatigable skier. Sometimes we would go skiing on weekends, often together with M. Grabovskii. In summer, my husband liked to play lawn tennis. We loved dancing. Evgenii took a dancing course at the Scientists Union Club and we often dance while vacationing at resort hotels. At the Porechie resort hotel we even won a prize at a dancing contest. We used every opportunity to go dancing, but both of us were too preoccupied with work.

My husband loved to read. He new by heart many poems by Mikhail Lermontov and Alexander Blok. Among Russian novelists, he liked Mikhail Sholokhov’s “And Quiet Flows the Don,” “Silver Duke” by Alexei K. Tolstoi, “The Way of Pain” by Alexei N. Tolstoi, Ilya Orenburg’s “Storm” and “The Story of My Contemporary” by Korolenko. Among foreign novelists, he liked Charles Dickens, and to our great surprise recited lengthy fragments from Dickens’ novels, with all personages’ names, including the dog’s name. Also, he liked Knut Gamsun’s “Victoria” and the Jack London’s optimistic and life-asserting novels and short stories. From childhood, he loved a book by Talbot Reed about the life of British students which captivated him by its joviality and optimism. He persistently recommended this book, as well as books by Verne and Mayne Rayde to the children.

In general, both in his literature preferences and in life Evgenii was invariably optimistic and life-asserting. When presenting somebody a book he always inscribed it with “Be Healthy and Cheer Up!”

His favorite composer was Skriabin and his “Poem of Ecstasy.”

Although we had different preferences in literature and music, but one thing was common  we all loved the Pete Seager’s American Favorite Ballads. We have made up a collection of records, mainly vinyl discs Evgenii and I had purchased while on business trips abroad, and the tradition of playing the records during family parties is still alive.

Until 1983, Evgenii had never been seriously ill. He preferred to fight minor ailments without seeking medical aid, he never took medicines and never took a sick leave.

In 1983 a very serious ailment beset him intestinal thrombosis. Fortunately, he was taken to the hospital where Professor Buyanov, Moscow’s sole specialist in this ailment, had practiced. More often than not, intestinal thrombosis is discovered during postmortem examination. Professor Buyanov dared to operate, but he told me my husband’s chance to live was less than 5 percent.

Professor Buyanov worked a marvel, but this did not mean a complete recovery. It was Evgenii’s exceptional willpower and love for life and that I was let in to stay with him in the ward for the next 6 weeks providing necessary care that allowed him not just to survive but to return to his favorite work and live a full-fledged life.

I remember how meticulously he prepared for every lecture, reviewing his notes, updating and upgrading them and adding new material. He read tons of publications on the subject and was up on the state of art in his sphere.

He was exceptionally understanding and keen on my own scientific work which became an unalienable part of my life just like his work had been part of his life. At times when I had to work especially hard preparing and defending my first and second theses, he always tried to take as much household work from me as he could and always gave me the warmest moral support.

In 1960 I was about to decline the invitation to attend the General Assembly meeting of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics in Finland, for my younger son was only 10 months since born. But Evgenii insisted that I should go and undertook to nurse our son. I am immensely grateful to him for this and for letting me to take my other foreign trips which were essential for my work. Every time I left I felt in no worry and was confident that the children and home would be duly attended for.

Still, work had always been the main interest of his. It was impossible to distract him. Even when he was not at his desk, he paced about the room, deep in thought, not responding to anybody’s attempts to speak with him.

Dinner was the short time we could get together, talk and exchange news about our work. As I matured as a personality, he grew increasingly respectful for my opinion and advice. And for me he had always been incontestable authority.

He loved me and the children and was a good husband.

Nadezhda V. Kondorskaya
Translated by Alexander Kondorskii

© 2010 by MISM Team