Music: A Store of Knowledge

When Alfred Einstein began studying the violin, at nine, he soon realized he was no prodigy—"I only made a lot of noise." Later, as a student at the University of Munich, he tried his hand at composing the usual sonatas and fugues, soon found "I was not a Beethoven." But young Alfred, who had a distant, science-minded cousin named Albert Einstein, made music his career anyway.

Last week Smith College in Northampton, Mass. honored 69-year-old Alfred Einstein as one of the world's outstanding music historians and critics. In a three-day celebration, fellow members of the Smith faculty and students played and...