Prelude to Einstein on the Fritz, S. E=mc2

P.D.Q. Bach

Edited by Prof. Peter Schickele
Publisher: Theodore Presser Company
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

The manuscript of the Prelude to Einstein on the Fritz was discovered, interestingly enough, on the beach, wedged in between a piece of flotsam and a piece of jetsam. The title of the opera refers to Alphonse Einstein, a 17th century philosopher and mathematician who came from an extremely large family, which led him to develop his Theory of Relatives. He is known principally for his great equation, the first formulation of which was e=mbcs; he later decided to do without the bs, resulting in the simplified e=mc, which still stood for energy equals matzoh balls in chicken soup. Later still he created the final version, e=mc2, adding the raised ?2? to indicate that this constituted a square meal.

P.D.Q. Bach took Einstein?s discovery that time is curved to mean that if you constructed an opera so that each scene lasts 24 hours, then no matter how long the opera is, it will end at the same time it began. He would seem to have blown the chances of this happening by writing an overture (he anticipated Wagner by decades in calling it a prelude) of less than ten minutes? duration, but it may be that some adjustment was necessary to allow for intermissions. The manuscript of the rest of the opera has been lost, which is probably just as well, since P.D.Q. intended a performance of Einstein on the Fritz to fill up, in his words, ?that boring stretch of time between leap years.?

The plot is not as complicated as that of most operas:
Einstein feels a sneeze coming on, and takes his handkerchief from his pocket. In Act II, he
realizes that he is not going to sneeze after all, and he puts his handkerchief back in his pocket in Act III.

In spite of the universality of the its theme, P.D.Q. obviously worried that the opera might not engage the interest of frivolous 18th century audiences; he planned, therefore, to add an epilogue in which Einstein goes down to Hades to bring back his cousin Sophie, avenges the murder of his brother at the hands of Tsar Ivan the Inside Trader, slays the dragon guarding the entrance to the Golden Cave, seduces the Count?s daughter on the eve of her wedding, and unites Italy.

Special thanks are due Leo Treitler for making the suggestion that resulted in the discovery of this most peculiar and astoundingly prescient work.

Available on Rental

Additional Information

Duration 00:07:00
Editor Schickele, Prof. Peter
Orchestration Solo Pno.; 2 2 2 2 - 2 2 3 0; 2Perc. Str.

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