Albert Einstein was an enthusiastic sometime violinist. Einstein absolutely loved Wolfgang Mozart, and once remarked to a friend that it was as if the great Wolfgang Amadeus did not “create” his music but simply discovered it already made – much like Michelangelo freed statues from marble. Einstein’s was fascinated by the ultimate simplicity of nature and its explanation and statement via essentially simple mathematical expressions and his view of music parallels his perspective for science.
“The theory of relativity occurred to me by intuition, and music is the driving force behind this intuition,” Albert Einstein once observed. He started music lessons at age 5, at his mother’s request. But it wasn’t until he was a teenager that he stumbled upon Mozart’s sonatas. “Love is a better teacher than a sense of duty,” he said. Ironically he had stop taking music lessons before making this discovery.
Or maybe it wasn’t such a different reason. Music was far more than a sideline to Einstein’s work; it was central to everything he thought and did. And Elsa Einstein once confided to a visitor that she fell in love with her handsome cousin Albert for quite a different reason: “because he played Mozart so beautifully on the violin.”
“Music helps him when he is thinking about his theories,” said Elsa, who became his second wife in 1919. “He goes to his study, comes back, strikes a few chords on the piano, jots something down, returns to his study.”The great physicist himself once said that if he hadn’t been a scientist, he would certainly have been a musician.
“Life without playing music is inconceivable for me,” he declared. “I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music … I get most joy in life out of music.”
Once smitten, the famous scientist never traveled without his beloved violin, “Lina.” His early experiences with the violin were less than a success, in fact, in one story told by friends recalled him throwing a chair at his teacher, who left the house in tears! But upon discovering Mozart at age 13, his biographer Carl Seeling recalls that young Einstein’s in the words of a friend his “violin began to sing, the walls of the room seemed to recede—for the first time, Mozart in all his purity appeared before me, bathed in Hellenic beauty with its pure lines, roguishly playful, mightily sublime.”