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My father's conditions when I wanted to give up the piano


Early childhood recollections about music
Manfred Eigen Scientist
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Surely, I was born indeed, but for that I have no recollections. But, at least I was told that I was born on May 9th, 1927 in the city of Bochum, which is in the Ruhr area. The birthday then of course played a big role in my life, in childhood you know that's a very important day where you invite all your friends and, yes, so my recollections may go back to an age of two or three. Very dim. But then, later on, my parents were... my father was a musician, a chamber musician, and till 1933 he was the chairman of the orchestra in Bochum, but then he was taken from that post by the well-known political events. But he intensified his music by that time and, what I remember in my early days, that we always had concerts at home, we called it house concert, and quite a number of famous musicians came. Also, my father was a friend of Hermann Busch from the famous Busch family, Adolf and Fritz Busch ‒ well known. Hermann Busch was a cellist and they of course had to leave also in the '30s due to the political development.

But the house of my parents was full of music. My mother was not a musician but she liked it, and she took care of the social events around the concerts. Of course, as a small child I was not allowed in the evening to come in, but my children's room was very close to the music room ‒ we had a music room ‒ so then I put my ear to the wall. I had a brother who was three years older, and so we both liked to listen to the music.

Nobel Prize winning German biophysical chemist, Manfred Eigen (1927-2019), was best known for his work on fast chemical reactions and his development of ways to accurately measure these reactions down to the nearest billionth of a second. He published over 100 papers with topics ranging from hydrogen bridges of nucleic acids to the storage of information in the central nervous system.

Listeners: Ruthild Winkler-Oswatitch

Ruthild Winkler-Oswatitsch is the eldest daughter of the Austrian physicist Klaus Osatitsch, an internationally renowned expert in gas dynamics, and his wife Hedwig Oswatitsch-Klabinus. She was born in the German university town of Göttingen where her father worked at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Aerodynamics under Ludwig Prandtl. After World War II she was educated in Stockholm, Sweden, where her father was then a research scientist and lecturer at the Royal Institute of Technology.

In 1961 Ruthild Winkler-Oswatitsch enrolled in Chemistry at the Technical University of Vienna where she received her PhD in 1969 with a dissertation on "Fast complex reactions of alkali ions with biological membrane carriers". The experimental work for her thesis was carried out at the Max Planck Institute for Physical Chemistry in Göttingen under Manfred Eigen.

From 1971 to the present Ruthild Winkler-Oswatitsch has been working as a research scientist at the Max Planck Institute in Göttingen in the Department of Chemical Kinetics which is headed by Manfred Eigen. Her interest was first focused on an application of relaxation techniques to the study of fast biological reactions. Thereafter, she engaged in theoretical studies on molecular evolution and developed game models for representing the underlying chemical proceses. Together with Manfred Eigen she wrote the widely noted book, "Laws of the Game" (Alfred A. Knopf Inc. 1981 and Princeton University Press, 1993). Her more recent studies were concerned with comparative sequence analysis of nucleic acids in order to find out the age of the genetic code and the time course of the early evolution of life. For the last decade she has been successfully establishing industrial applications in the field of evolutionary biotechnology.

Tags: classical music, Ruhr, Bochum, Adolf Georg Wilhelm Busch, Hermann Busch, Fritz Busch, Ernst Eigen, Hedwig Eigen

Duration: 2 minutes, 49 seconds

Date story recorded: July 1997

Date story went live: 24 January 2008