Albert Einstein has always occupied a special place in my life. I was fascinated with his unorthodox way of expressing his scientific discoveries, and although I could not follow his mathematical formulas nor even begin to understand the theories, his methods of arriving at those theories seemed to be close to those of an artist. He was intuitive and imagined before he could prove, leaping beyond the tangible.
As it turns out, I married a man who looks exactly like Einstein. People often send us cards and calenders with photos of Einstein because they could be photos of my husband, Stephan Peskin. When I encountered the following letter in just such a calendar, I knew that I had to incorporate it into one of my compositions. The perfect opportunity came in the form of a commission for a song from the organization Joy in Singing in 2001.
I imagined Einstein to have a deep and powerful voice, so I scored the song for baritone. When I began to set the text, I realized that even though it was written as a letter, the organization of thoughts was startling. There was such logic to the progression of ideas and such a sense of form, that it was as though Einstein had composed a poem rather than a letter. The words had a Biblical ring. Their meaning confirmed what I had suspected all along: that Einstein valued art fully as much as he valued science and drew a connection between them.
Art and Science was premiered at the Joy in Singing Composers Evening at Merkin Hall in New York City on April 25, 2001. Randall Scarlata sang, accompanied by pianist Cameron Stowe.
Where the world ceases to be the scene of our personal hopes and wishes, where we face it as free beings admiring, asking and observing, there we enter the realm of Art and Science. If what is seen and experienced is portrayed in the language of logic, we are engaged in science. If it is communicated through forms whose connections are not accessible to the conscious mind but are recognized intuitively as meaningful, then we are engaged in art. Common to both is the loving devotion to that which transcends personal concerns and volition.
letter to the editor of a German magazine regarding the connection between art and science in any epoch, 1927