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Defiance, Solidarity, and Comfort Through Music in Times of Crisis

Ukrainian violinist Vera Lytovchenko plays a lullaby in a bomb shelter in Kharkiv
Vera Lytovchenko
Ukrainian violinist Vera Lytovchenko plays a lullaby in a bomb shelter in Kharkiv

In times of trial and difficulty, we often turn to music. In this week's roundup, four stories that show the power and resilience of music in crisis. Also, the revival of Chopin's music in his native Warsaw, a discussion on music making when the musicians are removed, and a bit of rhythmic fun with Beethoven.


Defiance. Solidarity. Comfort. There have been some truly powerful examples of music's capacity to connect us over the last few weeks as the crisis in Ukraine continues to develop before our eyes.

The Kyiv Symphony Orchestra, with just 20 of their 75 members remaining in the city, gathered to play a defiant public concert a few weeks ago. Music included the Ukrainian National Anthem, as well as Beethoven's "Ode to Joy," the anthem of the European Union.

The anthem and the "Ode to Joy" were also heard at the Metropolitan Opera's "A Concert for Ukraine" on Monday, a benefit event which stood in solidarity with the people of the embattled nation, and which centered a young Ukrainian baritone named Vladyslav Buialskyi.

In a graceful article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on the role of music in the invasion of Ukraine, author Jeremy Reynolds highlights this beautiful post-rehearsal video of violinist Marta Krechkovsky playing a melody from her childhood.

Krechkovsky isn't the only one hoping that her playing will bring comfort to those who need it. Vera Lytovchenko, a violinist and teacher from Kharkiv, played a haunting instrumental version of the lullaby "What a moonlit night" in a bomb shelter for fellow citizens bunkered below ground. "I was trying to make them think about something [else] and not about the war for some minutes while I’m playing," she said, according to The Violin Channel.

As the stories from this week show, the power of music to unite, to heal, and to protest should never be underestimated.

Other Stories in the Classical Music World

  1. From our colleagues down the hall at PRI's The World: How an American pianist revived Chopin in Warsaw!
  2. An exploration on mechanical music, and "what happens when you remove the human player from a piece of music."
  3. And last but not least, a bit of fun from the London Philharmonic — can you keep up?

Chris Voss is the Weekday Afternoon Host and a Producer for CRB.