Pair explore historical link between physics and music


CORVALLIS - Connections between physics and music as viewed by scientist Hermann von Helmholtz will be the focus of two lectures at Oregon State University next week. A pair of Harvard scholars, one a musician and the other a physicist, will deliver the free, public lectures Feb. 26-27.

A 19th-century physicist, von Helmholtz, was interested in music and sound and is famous for his statement of the law of conservation of energy and the "Helmholtz free energy."

"Reflections on Helmholtz and the Practice of Music" by Elfrieda F. Hiebert will explore Helmholtz's influence on music education theory and his impact on the music world, including composers and piano makers (notably Steinway). Her talk will begin at 4 p.m. in Benton Hall Room 303. She is director of the Chamber Music Program at Mather House at Harvard.

Erwin N. Hiebert will discuss how physicists appraised, criticized and amplified Helmholtz's views on musical acoustics and aesthetics and how his work might relate to future music. His talk will begin at 3 p.m. in the Memorial Union Room 206. He is professor emeritus of history of science at Harvard, where one of his more popular seminars has been "Physicists as Philosophers."

The presentations are part of the 1997-98 OSU Thomas Hart and Mary Jones Horning Endowment in the Humanities, titled this year "The Arts and the Sciences: Interactions and Influences." For more information on the series, call the OSU Department of History at 541-737-3421.

All events in the series are free and open to the public.