by Joram Piatigorsky


“Joram Piatigorsky paints an intimate picture of life growing up in a renowned family with a deep commitment to excellence and achievement, and the accompanying challenges of be...



“Joram Piatigorsky paints an intimate picture of life growing up in a renowned family with a deep commitment to excellence and achievement, and the accompanying challenges of being a child of such prominent parents. The look into the life of an émigré family in the second half of the 20th century is an important historical artifact of postwar America and Europe. The deep and personal story of Joram’s father’s public and private personae would be of interest to all those who value classical music’s role in society. Joram’s notion of science as art is the connective tissue in this memoir. I have witnessed over the years the significant ties between music, science, medicine, and the visual arts. There is a magical connection between the two worlds and this lovely memoir brings that out gracefully and at times surprisingly. The Speed of Dark will resonate with musicians, those interested in art, music and history, and those who seek to carve their own path in a world filled with high expectations and seemingly unlimited resources.”  - Sel Kardan, President and Chief Executive Officer, Colburn School of Performing Arts, Los Angeles “The psychology of collecting is a difficult subject for any author, but for one who tries to understand the problems of inheriting a collection, watching collections being formed and creating a collection of one’s own, the difficulties are multiple. Joram Piatigorsky deals with the blessings and responsibilities of the first, describes his parents’ grapple with their own acquistional passions and then, charmingly and thoroughly self-deprecatingly, analyses himself. Very few collectors have been able to adequately express their pangs and joys, feelings that come from the scent, the hunt, the chase and the success – or failure – that collectors’ experience, but he does it and does it with conviction and passion. “The scientific and thoroughly detached elements of Piatigorsky’s working life should qualify him fully to be able to write dispassionately about the art he himself collects, of the Inuit tribes of northern America. The clear and elegant prose on the theme of collecting reveals a dedication and self-understanding that is rare.” - Michael Hall, PhD, Curator of Ceramics, the Capelain Collection, and Curator of the Rothschild family collections, Exbury Estate, Hampshire, Great Britain “An eminent scientist and well-respected art collector, Dr. Joram Piatigorsky’s memoir is an inspiring reflection on the creative passion that infuses a life devoted to scientific experimentation and a profound appreciation of the arts. He contrasts ancestral family traditions with his own life journey, discovering unexpected similarities and differences in the process – from the notable accomplishments of 19th century horticulturalists to his own distinguished career as a research scientist at the National Institutes of Health; and from the deliberate and secure investment in Old Master paintings to an innovative, pioneering, and masterful collection of contemporary Inuit sculpture. “Dr. Piatigorsky’s memoir is sure to engage the broad interest of readers and critics fascinated by the author’s intimate knowledge of Rothschild family history and its influence throughout the generations, particularly on his own family, as well as by his insightful reflection on the joy of scientific and artistic discovery and the challenge (and necessity) of charting an autonomous path to a unique and rewarding life. As a prominent collector of contemporary Inuit art, Dr. Piatigorsky’s memoir will provide particular interest to students, scholars, and fellow collectors knowledgeable in the creative traditions of Native North American artists.”  - Bernadette Driscoll Engelstad, Independent Curator, Inuit Art “The few scientists who turn to writing fiction late in their career, as did Carl Djerassi and E.O. Wilson, clearly wish to convey the personal components of a career in sc...

Hardcover: 334 pages Publishing date: December 2, 2018 Language: English ISBN-10: 1949180530 ISBN-13: 978-1949180534 Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches

During his 50-year career at the National Institutes of Health, Joram Piatigorsky has published some 300 scientific articles and a book, Gene Sharing and Evolution (Harvard University Press, 2007), lectured worldwide, received numerous research awards, including the prestigious Helen Keller Prize for vision research, served on scientific editorial boards, advisory boards and funding panels, and trained a generation of scientists. Presently an emeritus scientist, he collects Inuit art, is on the Board of Directors of The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, blogs (, and has published a series of personal essays in the journal Lived Experience and a novel, Jellyfish Have Eyes (IPBooks, 2014). He has two sons, five grandchildren, and lives with his wife in Bethesda, Maryland.

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