During the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina, on May 27th 1992, a bakery in the pedestrian precinct Vase Miskina in Sarajevo, happened to have a supply of flour and was making bread. A long line of customers stretched down the street when a mortar shell landed in their midst. Twenty-two people were killed. Close by lived Vedran Smailovic who had been a 'cellist with the Sarajevo Opera. After the tragedy, he went daily to the spot in full evening dress and risked his own life by playing in memory of the dead, regardless of mortar and machine-gun fire and the risk of further grenade attacks.
The report by John Burns of the New York Times of this heroic musical declaration made an impact more immediate than any political statement about the Bosnian catastrophe before or since. It was quoted by many newspapers including the Herald Tribune who, in an editorial, directly challenged President Bush to match the 'cellist's courage.
"I first read about it in a copy of the Herald Tribune that I bought prior to boarding a train from Nurnberg to Hannover. As I sat in the train, greatly moved, I listened, and somewhere deep within me a 'cello began to play a circular melody like a lament without end . . . . ." David Wilde