The pianist of Yarmouk

Aeham Ahmad-11The time could not be more perfect. Following the New Year’s Eve events, and their repercussions on Germany’s view of it’s rising refugee population, the appearance of Aeham Ahmad in Bonn’s Münsterplatz today was a reminder that the majority of these refugees are decent people forced to risk death in search of not just a new life – but a life at all.

Syrian born Aeham is this year’s winner of the Beethoven Prize and had a smile warm enough to keep everyone ringed around him in the freezing Winter air content even before he began playing and singing his native songs and melodies (and also a little Beethoven).

Aeham Ahmad-10

Although born in Syria Aeham Ahmad  became a symbol of musical defiance playing piano daily amid the ruins of the destroyed Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus.

He also became a symbol of the power of the Internet as videos of him playing amongst the ruins surrounded by children and local residents became a hit on YouTube and a symbol of resistance. They also led to his piano being burned by the IS, at which point Ahmad was forced to flee, leaving behind his wife and children.

Aeham Ahmad

On his arrival via a rubber dinghy he became something of a celebrity and last October played before 3000 people at a Munich Peace Concert. In Bonn it was more like 30 people, but Aeham’s enthusiasm could not have been any greater had it been 30.000.


4 thoughts on “The pianist of Yarmouk

  1. Folk Club Bonn is an open door into a free musical universe. We have tried to incorporate recent refugees and generally failed. One of our founder members, media artist Barry L. Roshto suggested taking the Folk Club Bonn there to where these people are. We are willing if anyone can organise it. Our initial attempts to invite refugees to come and play music have fell on stoney ground.

  2. “The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists, who are dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood. The trailblazers in human, academic, scientific, and religious freedom have always been nonconformists. In any cause that concerns the progress of mankind, put your faith in the nonconformist! ”
    Martin Luther King, Jr., civil-rights leader (15 Jan 1929-1968)

  3. Dear John,

    what a wonderful positive report in such negative times.

    Hopefully you have asked Aehem to attend the Folk Club Bonn on the first Friday evening of the month: the next meet is on 05.02.16 where there is a real tuned piano awaiting him? As you well know we always reserve a spot for musical strangers who have a musical story to tell, but are strangers, to Folk Club Bonn.

    Hopefully you advanced him the sum of €10, so that he at least possessed the necessary permit to play music publicly on the streets of Bonn and so remain within the law, unless this tax was perhaps generously waived under the circumstances?

    Music, and not necessarily English, is really the most important and universal language that the world has. I think and hope the citizens of the city of Bonn understand this much better than most other people in the world.

    • I didn’t get the chance to suggest it John, but if anyone out there reading this knows Aehem, there is a piano and an appreciative international audience waiting for his music at Bonn Folk Club.

      Music truly is the one global language.

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