Published February 23, 2016
As he wrestled with his theory of relativity, Albert Einstein could not have imagined that the confirmation of his life’s work had been vibrating ever closer through the fabric of space and time for more than 1.2 billion years.
What Einstein had understood from the start was that he would not achieve his goal of describing the essential structure of the cosmos with just conscious thought and the delineations of logic.
He instead relied upon intuition and what he described as “the architecture of music.” He would grab his violin or plunk down at the piano when he seemed stuck.
“Whenever he felt that he had come to the end of the road or into a difficult situation in his work, he would take refuge in music,” his older son, Hans, would recount. “That would usually resolve all his difficulties.”
Einstein declared that a great scientist had to be an artist before all else. He sought and found inspiration in the work of Mozart above that of all others.
“Mozart’s music is so pure that it seemed to have been ever-present in the universe, waiting to be discovered by the master,” Einstein once said.
Einstein later described Mozart’s work as “a reflection of the inner beauty of the universe itself,” adding, “like all great beauty, his music was pure simplicity.”
The biographer Walter Isaacson would quote an Einstein friend describing the great thinker as playing his violin in the kitchen late into the night. The music would suddenly stop.
“I’ve got it!” Einstein would exclaim.