I’m working on a scene where Albert Einstein is playing a largo movement of a Handel sonata for violin and piano. (He was quite an accomplished violinist, and some biographers guess that through his violin he expressed the intimate emotions that he otherwise suppressed in favor of his work in physics.) I chose the piece after hearing and being transported by it on NPR. The choice, however, is arbitrary, though Einstein was known to play Handel. He liked the baroque (Bach, Vivaldi) and classical composers (Mozart, Handel), finding the romantics (Beethoven, Wagner) too sentimental.
Einstein’s mother, Pauline, was an accomplished pianist and introduced Albert to the violin at age 5. It was not until his pre-teen years, however, when he discovered Mozart, that practicing was anything but another necessary chore, like doing his schoolwork before he was allowed to go outside to play. Mozart opened another world to him and Albert was grateful to his mother for insisting he learn. The violin opened many doors to him in Zurich, playing music in small groups being a popular evening entertainment among the student group. Albert found in his violin an alternate absorption which gave him the time off his mind needed to make the intellectual leaps known as the “eureka” experience.