In this powerful photograph by Mikhail Evstafiev, we see musician Vedran Smailović, known as the Cellist of Sarajevo. The photo was taken in 1992 during the Siege of Sarajevo/Bosnian War.
Smailović, who often played for free at different funerals during the siege despite the fact that funerals were often targeted by Serb forces, is seen here playing in the destroyed National Library. On 25 August 1992, Serbian shelling caused the destruction of the library; among the losses were about 700 manuscripts and incunabula and a collection of Bosnian serial publications, some from the middle of the 19th century Bosnian cultural revival. Before the attack, the library held 1.5 million volumes and over 155,000 rare books and manuscripts. [Source]
Smailović played for the Sarajevo Opera, the Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Symphony Orchestra RTV Sarajevo and the National Theatre of Sarajevo. In his honour, composer David Wilde wrote a piece for solo cello, The Cellist of Sarajevo, which was recorded by Yo Yo Ma. Folk singer John McCutcheon also penned a song in his honour, In the Streets of Sarajevo. [Source]
The Siege of Sarajevo was the longest siege of a capital city in the history of modern warfare. After being initially besieged by the forces of the Yugoslav People’s Army, Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, was besieged by the Army of Republika Srpska from 5 April 1992 to 29 February 1996 during the Bosnian War. The siege lasted three times longer than the Siege of Stalingrad and a year longer than the Siege of Leningrad. It is estimated that 9,502–14,011 people were killed during the siege, including 4,548–8,407 soldiers and 4,954–5,604 civilians. [Source]