As the only witness of the first twenty five years of life and activities of my brother Maxime, I believe it my duty to say a few words about it on his seventieth birthday August 30, 1903-August 30, 1973.

My brother was born on the day of Saint Alexander Nevsky in Saint Petersburg and everything indicated that he was to bear the name of the patron of the city which, consecrated to Saint Peter the Apostle, nevertheless had as protector the national hero, whose relics rested in the arch-abbey of the capital.

However, we did not have an Alexander in the family and his chosen godfather, our father's uncle, the well-known sociologist, bore the name of Maxime. This name was frequently given in the Kovalevsky family since the 18th century.

Since Maxime Kovalevsky lived in France, Paris and Beaulieu-sur-Mer, we had recourse to an additional godfather, our father's cousin, Professor Eugène Markov, a renowned geographer, with whom our father had climbed Mont Ararat. Maxime therefore exceptionally had two godfathers. Maxim Kovalevsky returned to Russia in 1904, but Uncle Eugene nevertheless remained godfather.

As Maxime's godmother was chosen a great friend of our mother, Mrs. Sophie Davydov, née de Goyer, President of the Society for the Encouragement of Women's Vocational Education and member of the Council of Public Instruction.

The tradition of our family, half military, half academic, required that at least one of the sons in each generation be military. Maxime and my brother Eugraph were therefore placed on the list of candidates for the Corps des Pages – the Russian Saint-Cyr, reserved for the sons of high-ranking soldiers. Since our grandfather Pierre Kovalevsky (1826-1893) was a general, there were no difficulties and, after having started his secondary studies in the Alexander II cadet corps in St Petersburg, Maxime passed for the upper classes in the famous school, housed in the Vorontsov Palace, former seat of the Knights of Malta. He was constantly first and remained in this school until the final closure in May 1918.

On the literary and scientific preparation as well as on our studies at home under the guidance of our mother, Maxime spoke in detail in the pages devoted to our brother Eugraph (Bishop Jean) in the Memorial devoted to the latter (Paris 1971). So I'm not going back there.

Besides the scientific and humanist preparation our mother wanted to give us a musical instruction. We had organized a dance class at our house, led by an experienced mistress, and singing and piano lessons organized by Madame Marie Tchernosvitov, the wife of one of our father's colleagues in the Duma. Maxime and I played the piano and Eugraph the violin.

Apart from these lessons we were enrolled in the Schloesinger Musical School, which gave full musical instruction.

In our village of Youtanovka, Voronezh government, we took lessons in liturgical chant with our choirmaster Mitrophane Kolomiïtsev.

During our stay in Kharkov in 1918-19, we completed our secondary studies with Maxime up to the baccalaureate, but did not pass our exams until our arrival in Paris in May-June 1920.

In Kharkov, a city that our ancestors had founded in the middle of the 17th century, we had many ties and that is where our work for the Orthodox Church began. In Petrograd, in 1918, all three of us were delegated by the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan, our parish, as representatives of the younger generation, when Patriarch Tikhon came to the capital (May 1918). We took an active part in the life of the Monastery of the Protection of the Blessed Virgin in Kharkov, singing and serving services. On the recommendation of our relative, Metropolitan Anthony (Khapovitsky), we took a remarkable course in liturgy from Father Alexander Pourlevsky, a professor at the major seminary in the city.

Maxim and Eugraph began from that time to paint icons outside the cycle of 365 days (icons of saints for each day of the year) begun in Petrograd in 1917. The friendship of the director of the monastery library, the hieromonk Haïalamep helped us a lot. In one of our rooms my brothers set up a chapel which they adorned with their icons.

During the great trip to France in January-February 1920 we took an active part in the life of the parish of Saint Sauveur in Simferopol in the Crimea and in the hermitage of Saint André in Constantinople.

As soon as we arrived in France, my brothers set up a chapel in our villa at Beaulieu-sur-Mer and decorated it with icons painted by them. As much as the icons of Eugraph were vigorous and painted in large lines, those of Maxime were minutely worked, with very fine lines. The iconostasis of the Villa de Beaulieu is now in the Church of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin, 91 rue Olivier de Serres in Paris (15).

In June 1920, after a preparation-rehearsal with competent teachers, we took our secondary school leaving exams with Maxime and enrolled in October 1920 at the University of Paris. Maxime passed his Bachelor of Science exams there, and had Emile Borel and Elie Cartan as teachers. Then he enrolled at the Higher Institute of Statistics of the University of Paris and obtained the certificate of completion. He continued his research at this Institute and obtained the rank of Graduate Statistician in 1928. His work was entitled: "Statistical study on the results of the baccalaureate examinations in France (1904-1927), with two counting tables and ten boards of diagrams and curves”.

As a specialist in mathematical statistics, the calculation of probabilities and large numbers, Maxime was invited in 1928 to work in the actuarial department of the Compagnie d'Assurance Soleil et Aigle.

Neither the musical studies nor the artistic work ceased with the arrival in France. Maxime worked with Professor Nicolas Chamié of the Russian Conservatory in Paris on musical composition and my two brothers took courses at the Academy of Painting, directed by the painters Choukhaev and Jakovlev, rue de la Grande Chaumière.

We can say that Maxime entered the second period of his life, aged 25, equipped not only with in-depth knowledge in his specialty as an actuary, but also armed from the artistic and musical point of view.

Ordained on October 5/18, 1921 as acolyte and sub-deacon by Bishop Euloge at the Orthodox cathedral of Nice, where he sang and which he served with his brothers, between 1921 and 1924 he fulfilled the office of sub-deacon with the Archbishop (then Metropolitan) Euloge at the Cathedral Church of rue Daru in Paris. In 1924 he took an active part in the foundation and organization of the choirs of the newly founded Russian Orthodox churches in Clamart and Meudon and of the parish of Saint Serge in Paris. He also accompanied as cantor and servant, the priests who went to celebrate in the provinces, where Russian workers had settled and where there were not yet permanent parishes. He also directed for several years the choirs of the Russian church of Saint Jean le Guerrier in Meudon.

Others will say what Maxime has done during the forty-five years since 1928, but the beginnings of his work also had to be clarified.

Extract from the Russian newspaper “RENAISSANCE” of 6-9-73

Maxim Evgrafovitch Kovalevsky – Mathematician and composer –

on the occasion of his 70th birthday.

Maxim Evgrafovitch Kovalevsky, a well-known specialist in the theory of large numbers and probability, and at the same time a composer of spiritual music, was born on August 30 (September 12), 1903 in Saint Petersburg. He began his studies in the Corps of Cadets of Alexander, then in the Corps of Pages but events prevented him from completing his studies in Russia [1]. He therefore passed the baccalaureate exams in France. After complete studies at the Faculty of Sciences of Paris (Mathematics from which he graduated with a degree in science, he continued his training at the Higher Institute of Statistics at the Faculty of Paris. The thesis he then presented (“ Statistical study of the results of the baccalaureate exams in France from 1904 to 1927” or “The exam, is it a chance?”) earned him the rank of statistician graduate of the Faculty of Paris.

He entered the Compagnie d'assurances Soleil-Aigle, in the actuarial department, and worked there for nearly 40 years, occupying a succession of responsible positions. After 1968, he was invited as Technical Advisor by the Réunion des Sociétés d'assurance-vie françaises. He only left these areas of activity on July 1 of that year to devote himself to his vocation as a composer.

Already in Saint Petersburg, ME Kovalevsky had begun his musical training by attending the School of Methodological Musicians of Sclesinger. In Paris, he worked with professors from the Russian Conservatory (in particular M. Chamié) and at the same time studied Russian Orthodox singing [2] .

For several years he held the position of choirmaster of the church of Meudon and then that of the Montagne Sainte Geneviève. Currently he is at the head of the Chorale Saint Irénée in Paris [3] .

As a specialist in the history of liturgical music, he was repeatedly invited to lecture in Scandinavia, Switzerland and Germany and published a series of studies on this subject [4 ] .

Mr. Kovalevsky took part in the edition of collections of Russian liturgical chants [5] in which are found a certain number of his compositions and his harmonizations.

When, after the Second Vatican Council, the need arose in France to adapt the liturgical chants to the French language, he brought valid solutions, in particular to the problem of the harmonization of traditional melodies. For the Orthodox offices in French, he composed a large number of songs. At the Institut Saint Denys, he holds the chair of History of the Liturgy and teaches liturgical chant.

In 1973 he was elected President of the Russian Musical Society of Paris. We can wish the jubilee, who has retained an astonishing youth and great vivacity of character, many more years of productive work.

Translated by the editor

[1] . He was destined for a military career.
[2] . notably with Nicolas Kedroff Father and Michel Ossorguine Father. Between the two wars, he also took music history lessons from Miss Nadia Boulanger.
[3] . He is Chapel Master of the Orthodox Catholic Church of France.
[4] . He collaborated in particular in the edition of the Encyclopedia of Sacred Music (Ed. Labergerie Mame) for which he wrote several articles and where he was also responsible for reviewing all the articles dealing with Russian and Bulgarian music.
[5] . “Sbornik” published in London.


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