The Cellist of Sarajevo - A Literary Essay

Date:  2021-04-05 02:23:15
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Music is the art of combining sound in a particular given time that expresses different emotions in significant forms using various elements such as melody, harmony, timbre, rhythm and pitch. Therapy is a form of treatment pursued with the intention of healing or relieving a particular disorder. Music therapy is an approved health profession whereby music is assigned within a therapeutic relationship so as to address social, emotional and physicals issues of an individual by a qualified profession who has gone through a musical therapy program.

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Through this novel, we can see Vedran Smailovic used to be a chief principal cellist at Sarajevo symphony orchestra. He used to perform at the Sarajevo Opera Hall; he felt relieved "When he stepped onstage in his Tuxedo he was transformed into an instrument of deliverance" (Galloway, pg. 9). After the destruction of the orchestra hall by the mortal he came across a piece of music known as Albinoni's Adagio which was restructured by an Italian musicologist when found almost ruined. The cellist came outside of his apartment and walked towards a small crater with his cello and stool up to the point of impact of the mortals. He would play the albinos' adagio with utter of sadness for twenty-two days giving one day each of the twenty-two people killed by the mortal. The composition symbolized hope which was to rise from the ashes "Most days he's able to feel the music rejuvenate him as just as if he were filling a car with gasoline." (Galloway, pg.8)

In this novel we find four main characters featured the cellist, arrow also known as the sniper, Kennan and Dragan and all of them all filled with nothing more than just hope they are not sure if they are going to survive but they are hopeful. The residents were people living in peace until the mortal attacked "....people were happy, treated each other well, used to live without conflict." (Galloway, pg.10).

They would listen to the cellist play the composition, and their hearts were at peace, and at least some light of hope and optimism was reviled. The music acted as therapy to relieve them emotionally and psychologically since some of them faced trauma during the attack, (forest,2011) others were living in fear because they don't know what is in for them the next minute. We see Vedran's role of giving people a reason to smile and forget the struggles at least for sometimes, for now, hope is the only thing keeping them moving through the music. "The Sarajevo of the past has been replaced with a worn-torn city, where people act in ways that are foreign to Dragan and perhaps unfamiliar even to those people committing those same "acts."

Throughout the novel, different themes have been built up by various characters. Each character plays a specific role to bring out the uniqueness of the book and makes it interesting for the reader to relate. One of the underlying theme found in the novel is hope from the cellist music, through the playing of the music the remaining residence at least have hope that things will go back to normal as they used to (Sharrock, 2008). They see that music is transcending through the hard times of war and they have that strong desire to hold on to their homeland. We also see that through this the residents can protect those who are around them and not only their families and close friends but also those who are less fortune, for instance, Kenan was going to the breweries in such of water for his family and neighbor.

In relations to the novel, it's evident that sometimes people living in their comfort zone are drawn out of it so as to face different challenges; through this, they have utterly different viewing of the universe. The war that was caused by the mortal in a city that was peaceful made people to realize who they truly are and the role they in the society just like that of the cellist. Vedran Smailovic used to wear his tuxedo and perform at the orchestra hall for entertainment, but in real sense that was not his calling, his special role in the society is to bring hope and built confidence to those who are drowning. The music score that he used to play Albinoni's Adagio gave the residences some sense of hope of a better tomorrow and he didn't do it for money because that's wasn't his intention. Most of the days he played for himself he felt a brand new person and opted to share his emotions with the world "..the cellist sits beside the window of his second-floor apartment and plays until he feels his hope return." (Galloway, pg.8).

This book is therapeutic to any reader who comes to encounter it. In most cases, people suffer in silence and tend to shy away from the public, and emotionally they feel segregated, this may lead to health complications like stress, ulcers, etc. Galloway book gives a lot of hope to the less fortune and those facing day-to-day challenges, and the reader is not limited to music alone but also other forms of activities that one finds attractive to associate with (sharrock,2008). Countries and cities which have undergone a similar incident can relate to the novel and find hope for a better tomorrow. Just like the piece of music was restored and restructured by the Italian musicologist so is life it can be restructured and reformed back to normal or even become much better (forest, 2011). The cellist didn't know he was going to survive for those twenty-two days, but he was challenged to try something just to see others having the same view he had about the future.

In conclusion we see music taking part in restoring hope for the hopeless, it has the ability to bring healing and give purpose for life that's its therapeutic nature, and it only takes one person to bring change in a society and assist the mass in viewing the world in a different manner just like the cellist Sarajevo.

Pictures of the cellist at the destroyed Sarajevo orchestra hall playing his old cello for the massacred.


Forrest, M. (2011). Justifying the arts: The value of illuminating failures. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 45(1), 59-73.

Galloway, S. (2008). The cellist of Sarajevo (1st ed., p. 17). New York: Riverhead Books.

Martz, E. (2010). Trauma rehabilitation after war and conflict (1st ed.). New York: Springer.

witherow, j. (2016). Vedran Smailovic. Times, pp. 18 19.

Sharrock, D. (2008). Cellist of Sarajevo, Vedran Smailovic, is wounded by words. Retrieved February, 8, 2010.

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