Lot #8070
Albert Einstein Autograph Letter Signed

Poignant 1933 letter for an escaped German-Jewish master violinmaker

Estimate: $0+


Poignant 1933 letter for an escaped German-Jewish master violinmaker

ALS in German, signed “A. Einstein,” one page, 8 x 10.75, August 18, 1933. Letter to Belgian artist Marie Destree-Danse regarding expert violinmaker Julius Levin. In full (translated): "This is my chance today to turn to you in a truly interesting matter. Among the refugees from Germany is also the physician and author Dr. Levin, who over decades of dedicated re-building work on violins (more precisely, ennobling them in a time efficient manner), thereby creating instruments of such high quality to make them equal to the best old Italian ones. I am playing for years on one of these instruments myself and am enjoying it immensely. This man, who is in his seventies and in poor health is driven by only one desire: his art shall not be taken to the grave with him. It would be his dream to have a small work shop in Brussels (in conjunction with a school for craftsman) where he would have the chance of teaching his art to wood working apprentices. He has all the necessary tools, as well as a considerable supply of the expensive violin wood. This most unassuming man would only require a modest salary for the rest of his life. In return he would create here a new branch of the craft, a specialty that by no means would be unimportant. I consider myself in a position to judge the achievements of this man. Even the Queen of Belgium has admired the instrument I am playing on, one which had been ennobled by him. I am not sure what I could do to help this man reaching his goal. Would you perhaps have any advice? Would you care to see one of his violins? I am under the impression that you indeed are quite knowledge-able on this very subject.” Central vertical and horizontal folds with repaired partial edge separations (one passing between the first initial and last name in the signature), otherwise fine condition.

Einstein emigrated to the United States earlier in 1933 due to Hitler’s rise to power in Germany, and in addition to taking up a position at Princeton he began using his influence to help fellow Jews flee from Germany and establish residences elsewhere. Levin fled to exile in Belgium in July 1933, where he hoped to establish a violin school. In addition to his skill as a luthier, Levin was also an accomplished teacher who once had a young Marlene Dietrich under his tutelage. Einstein had been introduced to the violin at the age of six, fostering a lifelong passion for music; he often remarked that if he were not a scientist, he would have been a musician. As a violin connoisseur, Einstein treasured his instruments as enduring companions and this glowing praise for a violinmaker and his craftsmanship is certainly one of the highest compliments he could pay. An undoubtedly magnificent letter representing the conflicting extremes of Einstein’s biography—his flight from Germany and his beloved pastime. Pre-certified PSA/DNA.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Remarkable Rarities Auction
  • Dates: #461 - Ended September 27, 2015

This item is Pre-Certified by PSA/DNA
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