Cello and chalk – Bach and Fermat – University of Copenhagen

16 January 2015

Cello and chalk – Bach and Fermat


The mathematician Matthias Kreck, professor at Bonn University in Germany, visited MATH 9 January 2015 to give his lecture/performance M3 - Music, Mathematics & Malerei.

Matthias Kreck

M3 was an event for both mathematicians and non-mathematicians, allowing all to take part in an experience that addresses two extreme parts of the brain: The emotional side needed to enjoy classical music and the rational side needed to digest mathematics.

To help the digestion MATH served beer and snacks in the intermission. “Beer helps understanding proofs”, said Kreck.

Matthias Kreck and Schumann

Kreck plays the cello and began the event playing some powerful Bach. Then he talked about Fermat’s Two Square Theorem from 1640, the proof from Euler hundred years later, and other proofs that followed.

After an intermission - and some Schumann on the cello - he then demonstrated the “one-sentence-proof” by Don Zagier. The purpose was "to make everybody feel the joy of the rigorous statements and arguments".

Kreck and the paintings

The math and the music were accompanied by paintings by Luitgard Ilg from Mainz, explaining some of the mathematical statements, combining both parts of the brain - since they were are at the same time emotional and geometric.