Any genuine recordings of Albert Einstein?

August 20, 2020, 5:24 AM · Pardon if this has been asked before but are there any genuine recordings of Einstein playing? There's a video on YouTube that's claimed to be him playing but my understanding is it's a fake.

It doesn't matter if he didn't play like Heifetz, I'm just curious.

Replies (28)

August 20, 2020, 5:50 AM · Last time I looked the answer was, No.
August 20, 2020, 5:59 AM · Indeed there was an earlier thread on this question on this forum, and the conclusion was negative as I recall.
Edited: August 20, 2020, 6:06 AM · It is interesting to read reports of his playing. Between the lines there is damning faint praise.
Otoh, he had been playing since a very young age and, with a break, rediscovered a love for it in his teens, and there's no reason for him not to have been quite good, assuming he had some talent. The Yehudi Menuhin quote from Berlin in 1929 is genuine - Menuhin includes it in his autobiography, assuming he's not lying.
August 20, 2020, 7:55 AM · I'll just go ahead and surmise that Einstein played the violin at the Bruch Level.
Edited: August 20, 2020, 8:15 AM · lol!
August 21, 2020, 1:08 PM · What you think of Einstein's playing depends on your frame of reference.
August 21, 2020, 1:15 PM · There is a story that the Great Man apparently had problems in counting rests when playing chamber music!
August 21, 2020, 4:22 PM · @Tom. That was quite good but no cigar. The first person to use the word "relatively" should be banned from for a year. I guess that would be me.
August 21, 2020, 4:59 PM · I'm not to blame for my intonation problems - It's the frequency-shift from moving around too much.
Edited: August 21, 2020, 5:12 PM · Per Paul Deck
I'll just go ahead and surmise that Einstein played the violin at the Bruch Level.

I take it this has some relation to the composer Bruch - can someone explain the inside joke?
August 22, 2020, 4:49 AM · I'm originally from New Jersey, and my final viola teacher, Emanuel Vardi, used to play chamber music with Einstein in Princeton. He indeed said that his main problem was that he couldn't count (!)
Edited: August 26, 2020, 10:29 AM · I've been playing chamber music with people for 70 years. I can't imagine playing more than once with someone who couldn't count.

Been there done that!

If it were Einstein I imagine I'd have spend more time in the sessions chatting and drinking some wine. That would have been fun. (I did play in a wine sipping quintet in the early '60s, but we only sipped during the break!) We had a marvelous 1st violinist - had played professionally in one of those "all girl orchestras" during WW-II. The 2nd violinist was good too. We were working on the "Great Schubert C Major Quintet" for a performance, my introduction to it. I played 2nd cello. I'm sure the wine did not help.

August 22, 2020, 9:03 AM · I'd bet he had lightning fingers which you couldn't predict where and when they'd land due to the Rosen bridge.
Edited: August 23, 2020, 10:16 AM · I looked into this in detail because of the spurious youtube 'Einstein' recording - which was uploaded on April 1st (he is still laughing). Here is the original topic:

There are NO extant recordings of Einstein that we could trace - at least ones in the public domain. I suspect - indeed, how could it not be - that his family has them but will not release them due, perhaps, to maintaining the mystique (misplaced I think as recordings that were not perfect would serve only to help humanize the man - nobody can deny his genius).

August 23, 2020, 10:14 AM · Scott wrote: "I'm originally from New Jersey, and my final viola teacher, Emanuel Vardi, used to play chamber music with Einstein in Princeton. He indeed said that his main problem was that he couldn't count."

I have heard that one attributed to probably four different people, including Heifetz - if it happened (and it is not unlikely) then we may never figure out who said it first and whether Einstein was actually there.

August 23, 2020, 5:12 PM · Why is anyone surprised that he couldn't count? He was a theoretical physicist. Numbers are for experimentalists.
August 24, 2020, 6:17 AM · There may not be a recording of him, but there is a famous PHOTOGRAPH of him, and maybe if I tried playing doing that, might I improve?
On second thoughts ...
August 26, 2020, 7:56 AM · ... your physics? Undoubtedly. For the violin you might try a picture of Hahn or Heifetz or...
Edited: August 26, 2020, 10:22 AM · Per Xuanyuan Liu:
The Bruch level means the student is playing advanced romantic concertos.

Saying Einstein played at the Bruch level is good for a chuckle because...?
August 26, 2020, 10:42 AM · Because "the Bruch level" is a meaningless cliché. Its a self-accredited achievement. You can be "at the Bruch level" and massacre Bruch. You can be "at the Bruch level" and bore the pants off everyone who hears you. Or you might become something one day, in the same way that every kid who learns to run might be an Olympic runner one day. That's how I've come to understand it, and I laughed at Paul's joke partly because it seemed to confirm my understanding.
Edited: August 27, 2020, 2:30 AM · I now play Mozart's concertos at the Bruch level... :D
August 26, 2020, 11:00 AM · I think it was simply an inside joke since the "Bruch level" is so often mentioned on this site. But I disagree with Gordon's picture of it. It is a well-defined level that amateurs (such as Einstein :-) rarely reach. It is the level at which you have the technique required to work on the Bruch violin concerto (widely considered the "easiest" of the standard romantic violin concertos) in a meaningful way. Meaning that, if you can spend enough time on it, you will *not* butcher it.
August 26, 2020, 12:49 PM · Thank you Elise, emulating Hahn or Heifetz or... might indeed be safer for my tongue.
August 26, 2020, 3:52 PM · I've looked up Einstein up on Wikipedia. He may have been nowhere near the Bruch level as regards counting, but his playing of Beethoven sonatas did impress, so he may not have been that far off it - There are some tricky passages in the C-minor, for instance.
August 26, 2020, 5:17 PM · Given his adulated status, a clean rendition of Twinkle would probably impress too...

Come to think of it, ever tried to give a clean redition of Twinkle :D

August 27, 2020, 1:14 AM · I've never heard the term "Bruch level" expressed anywhere outside this forum. Maybe the concept has some usefulness in the conservatories, but many of us are happy to have thrived and progressed as amateur violinists, never (or hardly ever) having set hand on the damn piece! For us music isn't like climbing Ben Nevis, it's more like a hike in the Lake District

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