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Scientist changes chemistry for claviature: Nuno Maulide plays a piano concert at the Paulus church

Scientist changes chemistry for claviature: Nuno Maulide plays a piano concert at the Paulus church

In his office, Dr. Nuno Maulide, young group leader at the Max Planck Institut für Kohlenforschung in Mülheim, often hits the keyboard of his computer to answer e-mails or to write scientific papers. But at home he goes for another keyboard: the claviature of his piano. Before he started his career as a chemist Nuno Maulide did not want to go into science at all. He wanted to be a musician.

“I started playing the piano at the age of nine”, says the 32 year old Portuguese. When he was in elementary school he took part in a special music programme. His teachers spotted his talent and pushed him to go on with music. His father enrolled him at a Music Conservatory in Lisbon. He stayed there until he was 17 years old. “I wanted to become a professional musician, even if my parents were not amused about that.” He subscribed for Music (with a Piano Major) at the University of Lisbon.

“Then I noticed that playing the piano a lot can make you feel quite lonely – only you with your instrument”, says Nuno Maulide who points out that he is a very social person. So he left this field of study after one year and went into chemistry. “I was lucky to find Organic Chemistry as interesting as Music – I developed a comparable passion for it. For me, doing things without passion is absolutely pointless.”

During his academic studies in Lisbon Nuno Maulide remained true to his music. He worked as a piano teacher for children at the age of five to eight years. “I always wanted to teach”, he says. Today he is the head of a group of about 20 people. He takes care of many PhD students, PostDocs and interns.

After he finished his studies in Lisbon Nuno Maulide went to Belgium, Switzerland and to the United States of America. There was hardly any time for his music. “Sometimes I went to a music store and played there”, he says. Now that he is in Mülheim, his free time is rare as well. But still – he has his piano again. “I try to play every day.”

With practicing his ambition came back. Nuno Maulide, who loves Bach, Chopin and Mozart most, did not only revive his old repertoire. He also went for new, harder compositions. “When I managed to play Chopin’s Barcarolle as I had always dreamed to, I knew: You can achieve whatever you want”, he explains. This summer he even participated at an international amateur piano competition that occurred between two scientific conferences. He made it into the finals.

“When I play the piano I forget about daily problems”, he explains. “I am on my own with my music and the composers I’m playing.” For him, giving a concert is similar to giving a talk, but it is more difficult. “Because at a concert you are speaking from your heart, you are exposed to the public in a very personal way.”

Nuno Maulide is looking forward to his concert in the Pauluskirche, Mülheim, on the 2nd of December. “I do not really know what I am going to play yet. But I will tell my audience some little stories about the pieces they will hear. So they will notice that classical music can be fun. It is not stiff and old fashioned like many people believe it to be.”