Ariel Dorfman grew up believing Einstein was famous for being a violinist rather than a scientist, and gets rather carried away with the idea:
And, yet, now that we are well into a new century, now that we celebrate 100 years of that moment when the young Einstein reached his epiphany of E = mc^2 which still haunts us, I have started to wonder if my first intuition about the great Albert was not correct after all. I wonder if those early violin lessons in 1885 - for a boy who had not yet really started to enunciate words, who was a tardy speaker of German - were not the sweet fire where his mind was forged and tempered. If it was not in the mass of that wooden musical instrument filled with a baffling energy that resonated inside every electron of his being, if it was not there where and when and how he first conjured up the laws of cosmology. I wonder if the design of the universe was not contained in the emotion he wrested from those strings. And if it was not a heart tuned by Mozart that gave birth to his certainty that the quantum leap of the imagination is always more important than the dreary accumulation of knowledge. Can it not be - my final wonderment - that Einstein's theory of relativity owes more to an aesthetic revelation than to his overwhelming mathematical intelligence?
Well, the connection between music and cosmology goes right back to Pythagoras and the music of the spheres, but of course we have to look to a greater source than that - a source that Dorfman unaccountably omits - for the Einstein-as-violinist myth:
Now you would not think to look at him But he was famous long ago For playing the electric violin On Desolation Row