The Lorchs' 1989 visit to Szeged

In May 1989 Ray and Maristella de Panizza Lorch visited Hungary. Ray, who had been born in Switzerland, had been a Ph.D. student in Szeged in 1934 and his Italian born wife Maristella de Panizza was Professor of Italian at Columbia University in New York. Ray died about ten months after this visit and Maristella wrote the following description of their Hungarian visit:

The purpose of our visit to Hungary in May 1989 was to celebrate a collaboration between American and Hungarian mathematics of old days (1934). The arrangements fell mainly in the hands of Hungarian Italianists who of course invited me as their American colleague to a lecture in their department. The intermediary between us and the Italian Department in Szeged was Péter Sárközi, Chair of Hungarian Literature at the University of Rome who had organized step by step in detail our stay in Hungary.

The "homecoming" celebrated at the József Attila Tudományegyetem by Ray's old mathematical friends was a touching event. I sat with a group of young students in the back of the classroom. While my husband was filling a wide, beautifully clean blackboard with white mathematical formulas, three old gentlemen in the front row were nodding approvingly. The three of them (all tall, straight, elegantly dressed) questioned and answered afterwards, laughing heartily at some detail of the past and quizzing each other on the development of a famous theorem. Finally, they posed for pictures in the mathematical library, and in front of the "József Attila" building. Everything around us looked like those three men: elegant, decorous, serene.

Our days in Szeged glided by peacefully, sunny and serene: meetings at the University, lunches at the Hotel Tisza, dinners at the "Hungarian," where gypsy violins played so passionately that I felt like jumping up and dancing the csárdás, We lived in a Collegium called "Herman Ottó," a ten-story prefabricated building, a student dormitory, reasonably solid, comfortable and very clean, and at walking distance from the river Tisza, which destroyed the town almost completely in 1887. The river has a personality of its own: wide and overflowing with water, it has a menace which keeps the town on edge. Ray felt completely at home. He was peacefully working at his mathematics.

JOC/EFR May 2017

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