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Teaching Denise to love opera


My wife, Denise
Eric Kandel Scientist
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So I called her up because a friend, Zevi Jaffe from college, who unfortunately is no longer alive, gave me two telephone numbers, hers and Marie Lesnik, a mathematician in Brooklyn. I went out with Marie Lesnik a couple of times, I didn't hit it off. And I called up Denise, and she had no interest in going out with me. And I tried various things, didn't work. And then I finally dropped that I was from Vienna and I could see that interest picked up. She thought, if he's European he can't be all bad. So she agreed to go out with me, and I asked her whether she wanted to go to the movies or the best bar in town. And she said let's go to the best bar in town. So it turns out in our apartment we built a wonderful bar… Bob Goldberger, later became provost at the medical school, he was a couple of years behind me, but we'd been friends in college, so he roomed with me. We roomed together near NYU medical school. And we had a modest sized but very nice apartment. And he was into whiskey in a big way. I don't mean he was a drinker, but he knew good whiskeys, he was much more affluent than I was. And so we had a wonderful bar. He also was a very good carpenter and things like this. So I took her there. She'd actually… she didn't like whiskey, so we had something else. And this was, you know, shocking for our period, and but nonetheless she was really quite game, and we very rapidly became good friends. And I think I told you this before, way before I was prepared to get married, she wanted to get married. I was uncertain and for me it was a leap of faith, and you know, you sometimes have to make those decisions. I was worried my parents fought periodically, and she said, of course people fight. But you know, it's how you resolve it.

[Q] Great.

There is a wonderful painting of me that Denise made on our honeymoon which… I don't know if you ever saw it. It's hanging in our apartment, you'll see it when you come up. It's different than a Kathy Hilten, but Kathy did it at a different phase of my life. This is an oil. Wonderful. Yes. Actually quite wonderful. She only did two paintings in her whole life, both on our honeymoon. That and a landscape. We lost the landscape somewhere along the line.

Eric Kandel (b. 1929) is an American neuropsychiatrist. He was a recipient of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research on the physiological basis of memory storage in neurons. He shared the prize with Arvid Carlsson and Paul Greengard. Kandel, who had studied psychoanalysis, wanted to understand how memory works. His mentor, Harry Grundfest, said, 'If you want to understand the brain you're going to have to take a reductionist approach, one cell at a time.' Kandel then studied the neural system of the sea slug Aplysia californica, which has large nerve cells amenable to experimental manipulation and is a member of the simplest group of animals known to be capable of learning. Kandel is a professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. He is also Senior Investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He was the founding director of the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, which is now the Department of Neuroscience at Columbia University. Kandel's popularized account chronicling his life and research, 'In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind', was awarded the 2006 Los Angeles Times Book Award for Science and Technology.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Vienna

Duration: 2 minutes, 45 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2015

Date story went live: 04 May 2016