In 1993. Sarajevo was the place that many referred to only one thing. War.
Photos of destruction and massacres that were happening, made the TV audience to turn their eye from everything that was happening in Sarajevo.
The city that had its own rising of the culture and art in the period of the ’80s, was the place where even in the worst period you could see some form of creation. Musicians, actors, and other artists were still giving their share to contribute to the resistance no matter how hard it was. In the absence of peace, Vedran Smajlovic, the principal cellist of the Sarajevo Opera was creating peace to the ones who lost someone. The act of giving the last goodbye on the massacre sites and funerals created an interest of the media and society throughout the entire world. Vedran Smajlovic label was ”crazy” and his act unfamiliar so far.

”You ask me am I crazy for playing the cello? Why do you not ask if they are not crazy for shelling Sarajevo?”

On May 27, 1992, he sat on his stool and started playing his cello in front of the massacre site where 22 persons lost their lives in a mortar shell explosion. For consecutive 22 days, Vedran was coming to the massacre site playing Albinoni Adagio in G minor. Every day he played for the life of one person who lost life there. Sadly, the music of Vedran Smajlovic did not stop to be heard on those events, as massacres and funerals were happening from day to day.
The ”act of lunitic” for the people outside of the Sarajevo, was actually the moment of confrontation with death and the last farewell. Friends, families and citizens of Sarajevo were remembered with every note Vedran played.
Soon enough Vedran Smajlovic received more and more support from his colleagues all around the world. Sitting on his stool was powerful enough to create a wave of musicians and artists which will come to Sarajevo.. They gave the support to the resistance of Sarajevo’s people and bowed in front of the massacre sites.
The most important photo of Vedran Smajlovic is taken in Sarajevo City Hall. Burned because of the shelling from the Serbian Forces side, City Hall was unrecognizable for the citizens of Sarajevo. One of the most beautiful buildings before the shelling, attracted media which came to do an article about Sarajevo and City Hall as well. They entered inside with the camera, and Vedran came there as well. He was carrying his stool and cello together with the portrait of his father which was created in City Hall. He sat down and he started doing the opposite of what Serbian Forces were doing. He started creating culture. The photo will go viral in almost every media and it will be sending the message of spite, courage, and creation.
Vedran Smajlovic, the cellist of Sarajevo performing on the ruins of the destroyed Sarajevo City Hall
Vedran Smajlovic in the City Hall

Still today you can hear the stories about the cellist of Sarajevo. You can read the book ”The Cellist of Sarajevo” and spread the word of peace through the example of the cellist. “Instead of worrying about what you cannot control, shift your energy to what you can create.”

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