5AM Runner

The Sound of a Piano

wladddThe old man slowly walked across the stage and sat down at the piano.  Even a short walk was difficult for him now that he was 86 years old, requiring a moment to catch his breath and gather his thoughts.  He looked down at the piano keys, and briefly glanced toward the audience.  He couldn’t quite see the faces in the crowd, but he knew that they were there, sitting in the front row as always, just as they had done throughout his life. 

In the past, the mere thought of his family would bring tears to his eyes, followed by an overwhelming pain that made it difficult to breathe… Over the decades, the pain had become dull and ever-present, a constant weight that subsided only when the piano had played.  And as the sound of Chopin’s Nocturne filled the room, his mind could temporarily let go and travel to a time and place where his family was with him, when they were still alive and real.

For the longest time, Władysław Szpilman had stopped asking the most obvious of questions - Why?  Why did his family have to be taken away and murdered?  Why did countless others deserve to die?  There was no need to ask a question to which there can be no answer, no possible logical explanation.  Holocaust has changed the lives of millions of people, and no matter how much we have tried to understand the roots of hatred and prejudice, there can never be a valid reason.

germansHowever, as an artist, Władysław had always wondered about something else, something significantly less philosophical.  How could someone who listened to Chopin and Bach shoot a mother holding a child?  How could a nation that produced Wagner and Beethoven send thousands of innocent children to the gas chambers?  How could people that seemingly appreciated art and listened to classical music mercilessly massacre people by train-loads without a shred of guilt or regret; sifting through the mountain of human bones and then sitting down to dinner with their families?  

And it was after years upon years of sleepless nights that Władysław had finally realized the true power and magic of music.  A classical masterpiece will elevate people and give spark to incredible accomplishments, but it may also embolden the villain to perform evil actions, if he feels they are justified in his twisted perception.  The Nazis convinced themselves they were the “master race”, ridding the world of the dangerous “vermin”, and they used the power of classical music to fuel their march of madness.

Still, Władysław Szpilman had always known that it was the music that saved his life in those dark days.  And it was the music that gave him the power to go on, awaiting the day when he would see his family once again, smiling as the music fills the void in his heart one last time.

Original Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9oQEa-d5rU