December 9, 2013 at 2:45 pm

6 Powerful Images of Music in Unexpected Places

by twistedsifter


I believe in the power of music to empower, inspire, motivate and unite. In the collection of images below it is clear that others also share this sentiment. If music has ever empowered or inspired you, please share your story with others in the comments. It might make a difference in someone’s life!


1. Libyan Civil War/Revolution Guitar Hero
October 10, 2011

libyan civil war revolution guitar player 2011 bard qatar hero 6 Powerful Images of Music in Unexpected Places


Taken on October 10, 2011 during the Libyan Civil War/Revolution, the photograph above by Aris Messinis captivated the globe as an unknown guitar player is seen performing amidst an intense gun fight in Sirte between fighters of the National Transition Council (NTC, former rebels who were now the de facto government forces) and fighters loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

In an interview with Channel 4 News, Messinis recalls:

“I realised by looking at him through my camera that he was trying to encourage the other fighters. It was impossible to hear his music because the distance between me and him was some 50 metres and the ‘Boom! Boom!’ was too loud. But, the whole time that I was in that place I didn’t saw (sic) him participating in the battle except his encouraging music.” [Source]



2. Taksim Square’s Piano Man, Davide Martello
June, 2013

davide martello piano man of taksim square 6 Powerful Images of Music in Unexpected Places

Photograph by Reuters via


Davide Martello was in Sohphia, Bulgaria on a ‘world busking tour’ when images of protests and violence in Turkey streamed across television screens around the world. The next day, the Italian-born, German-bred pianist from Konstanz was en route to Istanbul’s Taksim Square. Before he knew it, Martello had played three straight nights in the middle of the square, including a marathon 13-hour session [Source].

In an interview with, Martellow recalls:

“It was like a party and everyone was happy, so it was a pleasure for me to share the feelings with the people. I didn’t think about [what effect my music could have on the situation] but after the second day or third day I started to think, okay, music can change politics. Something that stops violence – something like art, music – I’ve never seen that before. The policemen took off their [helmets] and were sitting down and talking to the people. It was very peaceful.” [Source]





3. The Cellist of Sarajevo, Vedran Smailovic
August, 1992

cellist of sarajevo vedran smailovic playing in partially destroyed national library 1992 6 Powerful Images of Music in Unexpected Places

Photograph by Mikhail Evstafiev


In this photograph by Mikhail Evstafiev, we see musician Vedran Smailović, known as the Cellist of Sarajevo. The photo was taken in 1992 during the Siege of Sarajevo/Bosnian War.

Smailović, who often played for free at different funerals during the siege despite the fact that funerals were often targeted by Serb forces, is seen here playing in the destroyed National Library. On 25 August 1992, Serbian shelling caused the destruction of the library; among the losses were about 700 manuscripts and incunabula and a collection of Bosnian serial publications, some from the middle of the 19th century Bosnian cultural revival. Before the attack, the library held 1.5 million volumes and over 155,000 rare books and manuscripts. [Source]

Smailović played for the Sarajevo Opera, the Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Symphony Orchestra RTV Sarajevo and the National Theatre of Sarajevo. In his honour, composer David Wilde wrote a piece for solo cello, The Cellist of Sarajevo, which was recorded by Yo Yo Ma. Folk singer John McCutcheon also penned a song in his honour, In the Streets of Sarajevo. [Source]

The Siege of Sarajevo was the longest siege of a capital city in the history of modern warfare. After being initially besieged by the forces of the Yugoslav People’s Army, Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, was besieged by the Army of Republika Srpska from 5 April 1992 to 29 February 1996 during the Bosnian War. The siege lasted three times longer than the Siege of Stalingrad and a year longer than the Siege of Leningrad. It is estimated that 9,502–14,011 people were killed during the siege, including 4,548–8,407 soldiers and 4,954–5,604 civilians. [Source]



4. Adele Song Awakes 7-year-old from Coma
Spring, 2012



On April 13, 2012, 7-year-old Charlotte Neve was watching DVDs with her mother and sister when she suffered a brain hemorrhage. After two emergency operations to stop the bleeding in her brain, Charlotte was left in a coma and doctors told the mother (Leila Neve) to prepare for the worst. As the Telegraph reports:

When Ms Neve, 31, got in the hospital bed to give Charlotte her final cuddle, Adele’s Rolling in the Deep came on the radio – a song the pair used to sing together. Ms Neve started singing it to her daughter – and Charlotte began to smile – astounding doctors. Within two days, Charlotte had started speaking, could focus on colours and managed to get up from her bed. [Source]


Two months later, the Telegraph reported that she was learning to walk and talk again and had regained partial sight and was back to school and dance classes.



5. Conduct Us by Improv Everywhere
New York City – September 24, 2013



On September 24, 2013, Improv Everywhere put a Carnegie Hall Orchestra in the middle of New York City. They then placed an empty podium in front of the musicians with a sign that read, “Conduct Us”.

Random New Yorkers of all ages accepted the challenge and stood up to the podium to conduct the orchestra. The results were captured in the video embedded below. You can also see a 66-picture gallery of the day’s event on Flickr by Ari Scott.

The musicians for the project were from Ensemble ACJW. Created in 2007 by Carnegie Hall’s Executive and Artistic Director Clive Gillinson and The Juilliard School’s President Joseph W. Polisi, Ensemble ACJW is a collective of young professional musicians who are fellows in a two-year program that supports them in building careers as top-quality performers, innovative programmers, and dedicated teachers who fully engage with the communities in which they live and work.









6. The Piano Player of Kiev
December 7, 2013

piano player in kiev protests december 2013 6 Powerful Images of Music in Unexpected Places

Photograph by Andrew Meakovski


In Kiev, Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of citizens have been protesting for President Viktor Yanukovich to step down after his refusal to sign a trade pact with European Union leaders under alleged pressure from Russia. According to Aljazeera:

Yanukovich’s decision to drop political and free trade agreements with the EU in favour of tighter Russian ties and a crackdown last week on protesters plunged the ex-Soviet nation into its worst political crisis since the Orange Revolution.


In the photograph above by Andrew Meakovski, we see Markiyan Matsekh playing a piano in front of riot police in charge of guarding the Presidential Administration. One of the protest organizers Oleg, says Matsekh played a variety of songs including Chopin and Queen’s ‘We are the Champions’.

The photograph has spread like wildfire online in the last 48 hours. Photographer David Singer has a great post about tracking down the original source and how the image has been improperly credited to various people and agencies.




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