Stephen Hawking, erudite aficionado of fine music? Apparently so.
Although wheelchair-bound and dependent upon a computerized voice system for communication, Stephen Hawking’s groundbreaking discoveries make him one of the most celebrated scientists in history. Diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a form of motor neuron disease, Hawking charged forward with research into theoretical physics for more than 50 years — and radically advanced our understanding of the cosmos in the process.
He also traveled extensively for lectures, among many other pursuits. Thanks to the Zero-G Corporation, Hawking was able to experience weightlessness in 2007. He hoped to make it into space one day.
Aside from theoretical physics, Stephen Hawking also had a pretty refined taste in music.
Back in 1992, Hawking was asked to choose eight CDs he would take on a desert island. This was during an interview with BBC radio show, Desert Island Discs. Hawking chose ‘Gloria’ by Poulenc, a Brahms Violin concerto, Beethoven’s String Quartet, Op. 132, Wagner’s The Valkyrie, Act One, The Beatles’ ‘Please Please Me’, Mozart’s Requiem, Turandot by Puccini, and Edith Piaf singing ‘Non je ne regrette rien’, his last record.
If he could only take one, his choice was Mozart’s Requiem.
In 2006, he was asked to choose three pieces of classical music that mean the most to him.
This was for a special concert at the upcoming Cambridge Music Festival. Hawking was the perfect person to approach as the theme of the festival was “Mozart, Music and Maths.” His choices? Igor Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, Henryk Wieniawski’s Violin Concerto No. 1, and — again — Francis Poulenc’s ‘Gloria’.
All decidedly high-brow stuff to advance our understanding of theoretical physics and cosmology. And more evidence of a damn classy scientist.
Hawking died last month at the age of 76.