Beauty for Ashes

To comfort all who mourn . . . to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes.
Isaiah 61:2–3 HCSB


Over 20 years ago, during the bombing of Sarajevo, cellist Vedran Smailović reacted in a memorable way. He played Adagio in G Minor (supposedly composed by Tomaso Albinoni) on his cello amid the rubble of various bombed buildings. Despite the danger, Smailović, in formal attire, provided beauty in defiance of the ugliness and hope for those who despaired. Beauty for ashes.

I sense the call to do likewise. Do you? What will you do to provide beauty, even a tiny bit of it, to a world as thirsty for it as a plant thirsts for water?

While you think about that, you can listen to internationally renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma playing The Cellist of Sarajevo, a lament composed by David Wilde in honor of Smailović, who had become known throughout the world as the Cellist of Sarajevo. If for some reason, the video below doesn’t play, you can find it here. Please note that the music takes awhile to start.

Smailović photo from Wikipedia. Video uploaded to Youtube by MB7classical.

28 thoughts on “Beauty for Ashes

    • Glad you brought that up, Jade. What a sacrifice in such a horrible situation! My response is usually to complain. But others see beyond their own comfort. That’s very powerful.

    • True, Andy! I can’t help tearing up when I think about this guy playing such a beautiful piece of music in a scene of devastation. Beauty as an act of protest is something I can get behind!

    • It popped into my head when the speaker yesterday talked about Vedran Smailović, which is how I heard about him. Beauty is such a theme with me these days, so the sermon on beauty hit home to me.

    • Isn’t it though? I learned about him through a sermon the other day, which moved me tremendously. Though 20 years have passed, he’s still a beautiful influence.

    • Yes! Both make me feel guilty for sitting here eating a chocolate chip cookie, instead of going out and doing something for someone. But my nephew made them, so maybe I’m helping him somehow by eating them.

  1. This is beautiful and moving. I’m familiar with Yo-Yo Ma but I haven’t listened to any of his music for a very long time now.
    Thanks for the reminder.

  2. I remember hearing a news report about this when it happened. Music is soothing to the soul and I suppose he was trying to bring comfort (maybe peace) to those in the midst of war. Very moving. The cello is one of my favorite musical instruments. I wish I knew how to play it.

  3. That song is beautiful and a nice change of pace from what I’m usually listening to at work. I actually have a random cello sitting in the corner of my office that someone found in an old building on our grounds. Random.

  4. Beautiful and moving. Thanks for posting this, Linda. What courage and what heart. As I typed that I remembered that “courage” comes from the Latin for “heart.” In English, their meanings (at least their connotations) are somewhat different, but Smailović’s action certainly illustrates the connection between the two, doesn’t it?

  5. Just thought I would let you know-I have just finished reading the book I won through your blog by Martha Moore-Under The Mermaid Angel. I have never before (as an adult) gone for a book classed in the ‘young adult’ genre, and now I am thinking I have missed out on a lot.
    I loved the book, was quite moved by the ending, and I am already recommending it to others. If you could pass this on to Martha for me, and thank you for bringing it to my attention. And now, as for genres, I am taking my blinkers off.

  6. Pingback: MAKE MUSIC NOT WAR «

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