Alfred Einstein

Alfred Einstein was born in Munich on December 30, 1880, in the German Empire he was a writer and musicologist.


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  • 1 Biographical synthesis
    • 1 Professional career
    • 2 Works
      • 2.1 Publications
    • 2 Death
    • 3 Sources

Biographical synthesis

Einstein was born in Munich. Although he originally studied law, he quickly realized his primary love was music, and acquired a doctorate from the University of Munich , focusing on instrumental music from the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras, particularly music for the viola da gamba.

Career path

In 1918 he became the first director of the Zeitschrift für Musikwissenschaft; a little later he became a music critic for the Münchner Publica; and in 1927 he became a 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 and then to Italy, and finally to the United States in 1939, where he held a number of teaching positions at universities, including Smith University , of 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 subjects, but he wrote popular stories of music, including the brief history of music (1917), and the greatness of music (1941). In particular, due to the depth of his familiarity with Mozart , he published a major and extensive review of the Köchel catalog of Mozart’s music (1936). This is the job for which Einstein is best known. Einstein also published a complete set, in three volumes The Italian Madrigal (1949) in 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.


He published numerous books, especially biographies of famous composers. He also edited works by various composers. He was one of the best-known editors of the Zeitschrift für Musikwissenschaft, of which he was chief editor from 1918 until his exile in 1933, after Hitler’s arrival to power. He was also a music critic in Germany for the Münchner Post (since 1918) and the Berliner Tageblatt (since 1927).

His biography of Mozart and his profound reform of the catalog of the works of this composer prepared by Ludwig von Köchel (the famous Köchel-Verzeichnis) are milestones in 20th century musicology.

One of Einstein’s great merits is that he knew how to write for people interested in music, even if they were not experts. That is why he is often quoted. His biographies and essays are characterized by his personal and daring judgments, which give them continuous interest.



Alfred Einstein dies in El Cerrito, United States, on February 13, 1952 at the age of 71 years.


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