How it all started

(Reminiscences by Per Åke Malmqvist; comments/corrections are welcome)

In the 1980'ies IBM was quite active in computational chemistry and had a quantum chemistry group of its own, headed by Michael Hehenberger, who for years had been telling Björn Roos that there was a growing demand for a school along similar lines as the one Per-Olof Löwdin had been heading, but concentrating more on computational methods and their theoretical basis.

At an IBM Europe Institute workshop in Oberlech, Austria, this was again discussed. Björn Roos and Per Siegbahn made an agreement to start such a school with teachers and material from the department of Theoretical Chemistry in Lund, and Theoretical Physics in Stockholm.

With financial support from IBM Europe, the first school was to be arranged in the fall of 1989, and was named the "European Summerschool in Quantum Chemistry" - the unorthodox fusing of two words into one is a typical influence from the Swedish language. All preparations had been made, and a location decided, but during the summer, it fell into bankruptcy. After a desperate search for a replacement we found Tjörnarps Kursgârd.

The new place turned out to have some ideal qualities. Out on the country side, the students and teachers found themselves isolated together for two weeks, living in a number of small cottages, with nothing to distract from the studies, yet plenty of opportunity for socializing or relaxing in the pool. The evaluation sheets showed the school to have been quite successful, and it was decided to do the same thing again in 1991. The ESQC had found its home, and was continued at the same place until 2003, always at odd years. During the Tjörnarp years, traditions were established such as the beach party with fire walking; soccer games; the crayfish party with entertainment from groups of students and teachers; and the sauna.

An extra school was held in Italy in the year 2000, when Laura Gagliardi and the University of Bologna had been able to negotiate very good conditions from a spa hotel in Riolo Terme. The experiences from this school became useful when Tjörnarp went bankrupt. Starting with the 2005 school, a new location had been found at Torre Normanna on Sicily. By this time, Björn's health was failing, and the directorship was shared between him and Peter Taylor, who finally took over in 2007 and 2009. After he moved to Australia, Trond Saue became the director of the 13th European Summerschool in Quantum Chemistry.

The staff and the curriculum has changed during the years, as any living organism or school must develop or die. With the new location came also new traditions. There is no more fire walks, to the regret of some, and the relief of others. Yet there is a sense of continuity stretching back to the early beginnings.

ESQC staff 1989 - 2011


1989 - 2003 Björn O. Roos
2005 Björn O. Roos and Peter R. Taylor
2007, 2009 Peter R. Taylor
2011 Trond Saue

Lecturers (alphabetically)

Reinhart Ahlrichs, Jan Almlöf, Vicenzo Barone, Maurizio Cossi, Jürgen Gauss, Nicholas Handy, Trygve Helgaker, Bernd Hess, Bo Jönsson, Gunnar Karlström, Wim Klopper, Roland Lindh, Per Åke Malmqvist, Frank Neese, Jeppe Olsen, Michael Robb, Björn Roos, Andrzej Sadlej, Berndt Schimmelpfennig, Per E. M. Siegbahn, Peter R. Taylor, David Tozer, Lucas Visscher, Ulf Wahlgren

Teaching staff

Radovan Bast, Steve Elbert, Laura Gagliardi, Lars G. Pettersson, Valera Veryazov, Per-Olof Widmark

Secretarial assistance, the Tjörnarp years

Eva Hagen, Bodil Forsvik

Local organizers, Riolo Terme

Laura Gagiardi, Paolo Palmieri

Local organizers, Torre Normanna

Giampaolo Barone, Fabrizio Lo Celso