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The Indefatigable Cello

Mikhail Evstafiev snapped this photo of cellist Vedran Smailović in the rubble of the National Library in Sarajevo (1992)

Mikhail Evstafiev snapped this photo of cellist Vedran Smailović in the rubble of the National Library in Sarajevo (1992)

Hear Exploring Music with Bill McGlaughlin, weeknights at 7:00 PM.

On Thursday, April 18, a few days after the Boston Marathon bombings, moods were somber. Thousands gathered outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston. Police officers processed outside. President Obama and numerous dignitaries gathered inside. There was a moment when stillness fell upon the space, when mourners bathed in the sweetest solace; it was a single cello played by longtime Bostonian Yo-Yo Ma.

Not dissimilarly, Bosnian cellist Vedran Smailović (right) assumed that same duty, consoling his fellow Sarajevans as Serbian bombs fell in 1992.

In 1989, it was Russian exile Mstislav Rostropovich, who took his cello to play at the notorious “Checkpoint Charlie” as the Berlin Wall crumbled.

When words fail, musicians find eloquence in music. Perhaps credit goes to Johann Sebastian Bach-he put an entire universe in his six cello suites-but there is something courageous, and eternally expressive about the cello.

This week Bill McGlaughlin explores that indefatigable spirit represented in 300 years of the cello concerto, and a host of remarkable musicians:

Anner Bylsma
Pierre Fournier
János Starker
Arturo Bonucci
Laszlo Varga
Paul Tortelier
Emanuel Feuermann
Truls Mørk
Gerry Grossman
Pablo Casals
Jacqueline du Pré
Yo-Yo Ma
Lynn Harrell
Mischa Maisky
Mstislav Rostropovich
Leonard Rose
Claudio Bohórquez

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