is a gift that lasts forever


I was born in Baku, Azerbaijan in 1961 in the family of Tofik Ismail-Zadeh, my father (later Professor of Geophysics, a Fellow of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, a founder of the geophysical sciences in Azerbaijan, and the first director of the geophysical institute of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences) and Sima Ismail-Zadeh, my mother (a lecturer at the Azerbaijan Medical University).



Prof. Tofik A. ISMAIL-ZADEH (1930-2004), my dad



Sima J. ISMAIL-ZADEH, my mum


The life of my family was overshadowed by about 25-year state isolation as a family of a Soviet public enemy. The “enemy” was my grandfather Ali Ismailzade, who was condemned in 1938 to death as a foreign spy by the decision of a Josef Stalin’s trial in Voronezh (Russia) and finally killed in a jail in 1945. His parents moved from Maragheh, Azeri-speaking city of Iran, to Yevpatoria (Crimea) at the end of 19th century, where Ali Ismailzade was born in 1902. During the First World War his family escaped to Andijan (Uzbekistan), where young Ali became soon one of the leaders of the Communist Party of Turkestan (1920-1922). After the dissolution of Turkestan, he moved to Samarkand (Uzbekistan) to become an editor to the newspaper “Zarafshon” (1923-1925). After studies of political sciences in the Leningrad State University (now St. Petersburg State University), he graduated from the university in 1929 and returned back to Samarkand to take the position of the Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper “Lenin joli” (former “Zarafshon”). He knew several local and foreign languages, namely, those the most used in Turkestan as well as Farsi, English, German, and French and translated several works by Marx and Lenin from originals into Russian and/or local languages. He was the Editor-in-Chief of the Russian-Turkish and Russian-Tadjik dictionaries published in 1932-1933. In 1933 he was appointed the Rector of the Institute for Advanced Education of Teachers in Voronezh, and he moved with his family, wife Khaver-khanum (photo below) and two little children, daughter Shafiga and son Tofik, to Russia. He worked in the university until he was arrested.

My grandma Khaver Abysheff-Shirinbey was born in Ashgabat (now the capital of Turkmenistan) in 1910 in the family of Z. Abysheff, a peasant (her father), and Z. Shirinbey, a daughter of the Karabakh’s nobleman (her mother). She graduated from the faculty of medicine of the Leningrad State University and later took additional courses in the Azerbaijan Medical University. After the arrest of my granddad she moved with two children to Baku. During the Second World War she was a chief army doctor in a military hospital, and later she worked more than 40 years in a public clinic as a chief cardiologist. My grandma Khaver-khanum brought up and educated me.

Parents of my mother were born and lived in Baku: grandfather Javad was a state employee, and grandmother Soughra was a housewife. They had 6 daughters and 2 sons, and during a very difficult time of Stalinism and the IIWW they educated their children well enough: all graduated from different universities and three daughters received a PhD degree.




Ali ISMAILZADE (1902-1945)
my grandfather


Khaver ABYSHEFF – SHIRINBEY (1910-1994)
my grandma



I finished high School no. 134 (the left building, below), Mathematical Class for Gifted Children, in Baku, Azerbaijan in 1978 with magna cum laud (the Gold Medal for Excellence in Education). Earlier in 1976, I finished with cum laud a piano class of the Bulbul School of Music, Baku’s most prestigious institution for primary and high school music education (the right building, below).




High School 134 in Baku

(now School 132-134)




I started my primary education in this building in 1967

(now the Baku Academy of Music)


I married with Sonya Salman, a concert pianist who graduated from the Gnessin Russian Academy of Music in Moscow with magna cum laud. We have one son David (13 y.o.), who is a student of I. Kant gymnasium in Karlsruhe, Germany.


Sonya SALMAN, my beloved wife


David 2012

David ISMAIL-ZADEH, my son




My parents-in-law: Michael Salman, Professor of Medicine (gastroenterology and x-ray examination), and Valentina Salman, an economist.


Prof. Mikhail M. SALMAN (1928-2003), my father-in-law

Valentina A. SALMAN, my mother-in-law