Einstein's Dreams (Bitensky, Laurence Scott)
|Work Title||Einstein's Dreams|
|Composer||Bitensky, Laurence Scott|
|Year/Date of Composition||2010|
|First Publication||2010 – Silly Black Dog Music|
|Average Duration||15 minutes|
|Instrumentation||Orchestra: 2 flutes/piccolo, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets (B♭)/ocarina, 2 bassoons + 4 horns (F), 3 trumpets (C), 2 trombones, bass trombone, tuba/euphonium + timpani, 5 percussion + piano, synthesizer + strings|
Offstage: 5–6 ocarinas [movt.I only]
|Related Works||The 4th movement is also an independent orchestral piece, LightRide|
Albert Einstein was known to conduct “thought experiments” as a way to arrive at creative insights into questions that he posed for himself. For instance, when he was 16 he imagined what it would be like to chase after a beam of light. He later said that this thought experiment played a memorable role in his development of special relativity. Einstein’s Dreams is a fun and lighthearted musical depiction of this and several similar scenes from Einstein’s imagination.
Movement 1, “Goin’ Up,” is based on a thought experiment in which an elevator is suspended in space, being pulled upward by an imaginary creature. This “experiment” was used to formulate the “equivalence principle” that would be the foundation of general relativity. The image is elaborated in "Goin' Up" as the iimaginary creature pulls the elevator to a planet filled with similar creatures, all making their characteristic call.
The second movement, “Flatland,” is the title of an 1884 book by Edwin Abbott. In this book, a humble square lives in two-dimensional world inhabited by geometric figures, line segments, and the like, all who enjoy salsa dancing (okay, I made that llast part up). He is then visited by a three-dimensional sphere from the world of “spaceland” who opens up the square’s mind to possibility of further dimensions. This imaginary world is sometimes used to explain general relativity.
When asked how he came up with his ideas, Einstein once said that “when a blind beetle crawls over the surface of a curved branch, he doesn’t realize that the track he has covered is curved. I was lucky enough to have spotted it.” This image forms the basis for movement 3.
The fourth movement, “LightRide,” is a fast moving finale based on the “thought experiment” of chasing a beam of light. Once he caught up to the beam, Einstein reasoned, the light wave would appear frozen. The movement is loosely programmatic, depicting Albert humming mindlessly to himself, being startled by a beam of light, chasing after it, riding the beam, and experiencing the frozen wave.