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Classical 101

Musicians Unite to Call for Peace

Anna Federova and Anastasia Kobekina
Bernardo Arcos Mijailidis/Julia Altukhova
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Pianist Anna Federova and cellist Anastasia Kobekina

Some of the most legendary names in classical music history have connections to Ukraine.

Sergei Prokofiev was born in the Donetsk region. George Gershwin’s grandfather came from Odessa, as did pianist Shura Cherkassky. Leonard Bernstein’s parents immigrated to the United States from Rivne, in the west.

Pianists Vladimir Horowitz and Rosina Lhévinne were both born in Kyiv, as was composer Valentyn Silvestrov.

During the current crisis, 32-year-old pianist Anna Fedorova, who has both Russian and Ukrainian roots, has been active on social media, using her music to express her sadness about the conflict and to call for peace.

The day after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, Fedorova posted a video in which she performs “Dedication,” a composition by her father, pianist and composer Borys Federov. She is joined by violist Dana Zemtsov and double bassist Nicholas Santangelo Schwartz.

“It is impossible to express in words what is happening in my heart right now,” she writes on Facebook. “Being both from Russian and Ukrainian descent I could never imagine that the worst nightmare would become a reality."

She notes that her father “was born in Russia and lived in Ukraine for the last 35 years.” Her fellow performers in the video have connections to the region as well: Zemtsov’s father was born in Russia, and Schwartz’s family has roots in Ukraine.

“This is a message of peace and call to stop the war,” Federova continues. “It is heartbreaking to see how Russian and Ukrainian people are killing each other, how the country I was born and grew up in is bombed and getting destroyed.”

In another post, on Instagram, Federova shares a clip of a duo performance with cellist Anastasia Kobekina. Her caption lists her name with a Ukrainian flag emoji and Kobekina’s name with a Russian flag emoji.

As the world watches and hopes for peace, musicians do what they do best, following Leonard Bernstein’s precept: “This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.”