Vintage: Daily Life of Albert Einstein (1940s and 1950s)

Vintage: Daily Life of Albert Einstein (1940s and 1950s)


Einstein developed an appreciation for music at an early age, and later wrote: “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music… I get most joy in life out of music.”

His mother played the piano reasonably well and wanted her son to learn the violin, not only to instill in him a love of music but also to help him assimilate into German culture. According to conductor Leon Botstein, Einstein is said to have begun playing when he was 5, although he did not enjoy it at that age.

When he turned 13, he discovered the violin sonatas of Mozart, whereupon “Einstein fell in love” with Mozart’s music and studied music more willingly. He taught himself to play without “ever practicing systematically”, he said, deciding that “love is a better teacher than a sense of duty.” At age 17, he was heard by a school examiner in Aarau as he played Beethoven’s violin sonatas, the examiner stating afterward that his playing was “remarkable and revealing of ‘great insight’.” What struck the examiner, writes Botstein, was that Einstein “displayed a deep love of the music, a quality that was and remains in short supply. Music possessed an unusual meaning for this student.”

Albert Einstein plays his beloved violin, 1941. (Hansel Mieth—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Albert Einstein plays his beloved violin, 1941. (Hansel Mieth—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

A seated portrait of Albert Einstein, Princeton, NJ, on his birthday, March 14, 1953. (Esther Bubley—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

A seated portrait of Albert Einstein, Princeton, NJ, on his birthday, March 14, 1953. (Esther Bubley—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

Albert Einstein with Mrs. Valentine Bargmann outside his home in Princeton, NJ, March 14, 1953. (Esther Bubley—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

Albert Einstein with Mrs. Valentine Bargmann outside his home in Princeton, NJ, March 14, 1953. (Esther Bubley—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

Albert Einstein in his home with Valentine Bargmann, Princeton, NJ, March 14, 1953. (Esther Bubley—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

Albert Einstein in his home with Valentine Bargmann, Princeton, NJ, March 14, 1953. (Esther Bubley—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

Blind terrier Chico, 14, is petted by secretary and stepdaughter, Margot, who make up Einstein's household. (Esther Bubley—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

Blind terrier Chico, 14, is petted by secretary and stepdaughter, Margot, who make up Einstein’s household. (Esther Bubley—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

Famed scientist Albert Einstein in his study at home, 1948. (Alfred Eisenstaedt—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Famed scientist Albert Einstein in his study at home, 1948. (Alfred Eisenstaedt—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

With Albert Einstein, Cord Meyer Jr. (president of United World Federalists, Inc.) discusses Russia's attitude toward world government. Einstein thinks Russians would first oppose world government then "once they see they cannot stop it . . . they will collaborate." (Alfred Eisenstaedt—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

With Albert Einstein, Cord Meyer Jr. (president of United World Federalists, Inc.) discusses Russia’s attitude toward world government. Einstein thinks Russians would first oppose world government then “once they see they cannot stop it . . . they will collaborate.” (Alfred Eisenstaedt—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Portrait of Albert Einstein, 1947. (Al Fenn—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

Portrait of Albert Einstein, 1947. (Al Fenn—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

Albert Einstein, the [Institute for Advanced Study's] most famous member, gives his first lecture in its only classroom. (Alfred Eisenstaedt—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Albert Einstein, the [Institute for Advanced Study’s] most famous member, gives his first lecture in its only classroom. (Alfred Eisenstaedt—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Einstein tells Robert Oppenheimer about his newest attempts to explain matter in terms of space. (Alfred Eisenstaedt—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Einstein tells Robert Oppenheimer about his newest attempts to explain matter in terms of space. (Alfred Eisenstaedt—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)


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