Alfred Einstein

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Alfred Einstein
Einstein in 1927
Born(1880-12-30)December 30, 1880
DiedFebruary 13, 1952(1952-02-13) (aged 71)
El Cerrito, California, United States
Alma materMunich University

Alfred Einstein (December 30, 1880 – February 13, 1952) was a German-American musicologist and music editor. He was born in Munich and fled Nazi Germany after Hitler's Machtergreifung, arriving in the United States by 1939. He is best known for being the editor of the first major revision of the Köchel catalogue, which was published in 1936. The Köchel catalogue is the extensive catalogue of the works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.


Einstein was born in Munich. Though he originally studied law, he quickly realized his principal love was music, and he acquired a doctorate at Munich University, focusing on instrumental music of the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras, in particular music for the viola da gamba. In 1918 he became the first editor of the Zeitschrift für Musikwissenschaft; slightly later he became music critic for the Münchner Post; and in 1927 became music critic for the Berliner Tageblatt. In this period he was also a friend of the composer Heinrich Kaspar Schmid in Munich and Augsburg. In 1933, after Hitler's rise to power, he left Nazi Germany, moving first to London, then to Italy, and finally to the United States in 1939, where he held a succession of teaching posts at universities including Smith College, Columbia University, Princeton University, the University of Michigan, and the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, Connecticut.

Einstein not only researched and wrote detailed works on specific topics, but wrote popular histories of music, including the Short History of Music (1917), and Greatness in Music (1941). In particular, due to his depth of familiarity with Mozart, he published an important and extensive revision of the Köchel catalogue of Mozart's music (1936). It is this work for which Einstein is most well known.[1] Einstein also published a comprehensive, three-volume set The Italian Madrigal (1949) on the secular Italian form, the first detailed study of the subject. His 1945 volume Mozart: His Character, His Work was an influential study of Mozart and is perhaps his best known book.

Relationship to Albert Einstein[edit]

While one source (1980) lists Alfred as a cousin of the scientist Albert Einstein,[2] another claims (1993) that no relationship has been verified.[3] Some websites claim they were both descended from a Moyses Einstein seven generations back, hence they were sixth cousins.[4] In 1991, Alfred's daughter Eva stated that they were not related.[5] On the other hand, she wrote in 2003 that they were fifth cousins on one side, and fifth cousins once removed on the other, according to research by George Arnstein. They were photographed together in 1947 when Albert Einstein received an honorary doctorate from Princeton, but they did not know that they were distantly related.[6]


  • Gluck (Master Musicians Series-Series Editor Eric Blom), translated by Eric Blom, J. M. Dent & Sons LTD, 1936
  • A Short History of Music, translation of Geschichte der Musik, 1937, rev. 1938, 1947
  • Canzoni Sonetti Strambotti et Frottole. Libro Tertio ( Andrea Antico, 1517). Smith College: Northampton, MA, 1941
  • Golden Age of the Madrigal: Twelve Five-Part Mixed Choruses. G. Schirmer: New York, 1942
  • Greatness in Music, translation of Grösse in der Musik by César Saerchinger, Oxford University Press, 1941
  • Mozart: His Character, His Work, translated by Arthur Mendel and Nathan Broder, Oxford University Press, 1945
  • Music in the Romantic Era: A History of Musical Thought in the 19th Century, 1947, rev. 1949
  • The Italian Madrigal, translated by Alexander H. Krappe, Roger H. Sessions, and Oliver Strunk, Princeton University Press, 1949 (3 volumes)
  • Schubert, translated by David Ascoli, Cassell & Co., 1951


  1. ^ Author: Einstein, Alfred, Published: New York: Oxford University Press, 1945 and 1962 (paperback) "The Mozart Project: Mozart, His Character, His Work". Archived from the original on 2010-12-03. Retrieved 2010-10-19.
  2. ^ Article "Alfred Einstein", in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie. 20 vol. London, Macmillan Publishers Ltd., 1980. ISBN 1-56159-174-2
  3. ^ The Concise Edition of Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, 8th ed. Revised by Nicolas Slonimsky. New York, Schirmer Books, 1993. ISBN 0-02-872416-X
  4. ^ Descendants of Baruch Moyses Einstein at Family Tree Maker Online.
  5. ^ Catherine Dower: Alfred Einstein on music: selected music criticisms 1991 Page 22 "35 According to Eva Einstein, Alfred and Albert Einstein were not related. Alfred's name does not appear on the Albert Einstein family tree."
  6. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-01-13. Retrieved 2013-10-02.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

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