On Feb. 24, Russia invaded Ukraine, and sirens were sounding out overhead in a hotel in Kharkiv, near the border with Russia. Washington Post video journalist Whitney Leaming, who was on the ground in Ukraine, was leaving the hotel room.
Leaming heard the gloomy yet calm piano sound. She ventured out into the hallway and found a young boy, sitting down at a white piano in an empty hotel lobby. Leaming pulled out her video camera and filmed as he played “Walk to School,” a piece featured on the soundtrack of the science fiction television series “Tales from the Loop” on Amazon Prime in 2020.
Leaming posted the video of the young boy playing the piano during the chaotic situation caused by the Russian bombardment on the Instagram account of the Washington Post, which recorded over 9 million views as of Tuesday. Many people thought of the movie “The Pianist,” the movie depicting a Polish Jewish musician struggling to survive the Holocaust. Leaming’s video was flooded with over 2,000 comments, such as “It’s like a scene from the movie ‘Titanic,’ where the musicians played music on a sinking ship[.]”, and “My heart is broken.”
The music’s composers, Philip Glass and Paul Leonard-Morgan, who are one of the prominent minimalist composers, also saw the video. Glass released a statement on Tuesday, saying, “I never thought of this music as a political piece, but it has become one. Innocent people are living through difficulties we all hope to never face.”
Leonard-Morgan also shared the video on his Twitter account and commented. “My heart was moved beyond words by the fact that someone found comfort in our music in the most tragic moment of his life,” he said. “I do not know whether the boy found comfort and hope in the song, but music has power to overcome adversity.”
The boy’s identity is unknown. Leaming said she left the hotel a few minutes later to cover the news and that she never saw the boy and his family again.
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