1833-1887

Aleksandr Porfir'evich Borodin

Location: First Floor, West Wing, South Wall, Sequence 4

Source: Professor G. B. Kauffman

Sponsor: William McHarris


Borodin is best known as a composer (for example, the opera Prince Igor, a few bars of which appear above his signature) but in fact music was his avocation. He studied at the St. Petersburg Medical-Surgical Academy and in 1862 became professor of chemistry there. His researches were mainly in organic chemistry; he investigated benzidine chemistry, prepared the first acyl fluoride, discovered the Hunsdiecker reaction 73 years before Hunsdiecker, developed an analytical method for urea and most important, studied the base-catalyzed condensation and polymerization of aldehydes. However his facilities (compared with elsewhere in Europe) were poor, the number of research students small, his teaching responsibilities considerable (he was an early champion of medical education for women) so that his chemical output was, like his music, small; in quality, however, his music clearly out-shone his chemistry.