Vassar Today

The Theory of Relative-ity

By Peter Bronski
Many are aware that Vassar is home to the Morris and Adele Bergreen Albert Einstein Collection, which includes manuscripts, ephemera, photographs, books, and letters written by the legendary physicist. But Albert isn’t the only Einstein to take up “residence” at the college.

Enter Evan Einstein ’14, a distant relative of Albert. The relationship is through Evan’s great-grandfather, Leo Einstein, though the exact links—both family members and a recorded family tree—were lost in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany.

As an adult, Albert was a talented violin player, despite never having taken a lesson after the age of 13. His mother, Pauline, was an accomplished pianist, and Evan’s father, Peter, is a virtuoso on the drums. The apple has not fallen far from the family tree—Evan’s instrument of choice is the guitar. 

The sophomore writes his own music—which he describes as a mix of British alternative rock and pop with some harder American rock elements—and has produced two albums to date. (He’s at work on a third, mixing it in his dorm room at Vassar.) With plans to pursue a career in medicine, Evan predicts that music will be an adjunct to a life in the sciences, just as it was for Albert.

But what of that idealized and idolized legend? Does Albert cast an inescapable shadow? Not at all, says Evan. “He motivates me. He keeps my ambitions fueled.” The student recently made a trip to the archives to view the Einstein Collection and says it made him feel “even more at home” at the college.

In spring 2012, Senior Lecturer Jim Challey will teach the Science, Technology, and Society course, “Albert Einstein,” which will explore the scientist’s life and work, as well as his role in opposing Nazism and anti-Semitism. Does Evan plan to take the class? Yes, he says, barring scheduling issues.