Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
Tales from the Tabloids: Playing Piano for Retired Blind Elephants
A British fellow named Paul Barton lives in Thailand where his wife runs an animal sanctuary, Elephants World, for “old, sick, abused, retired or rescued elephants.” As their website says, “Most of our elephants have lived very hard lives and they come here to retire in peace.” Some years ago he began playing his piano to the elephants, some of whom were in chronic pain or blind or both.
Here’s Paul with Romsai, the nearly blind old bull elephant, playing Beethoven:
(I originally saw this story in the NY Post Sunday morning.)Published in General
What a beautiful video, Mama Toad–he was dancing to the music! We visited a sanctuary in Thailand, but I don’t know if it was this one. It was a great experience. These are extraordinary animals, smart and quirky. It’s wonderful that they have a place to “retire.”
So much to say…
”Music hath charms to soothe the heart of the savage beast”.
This is why all kids should have music lessons, you never know when they will prove useful.
Are those ivory keys? Such irony. Perhaps Romsai recognizes a childhood friend.
My Dad told the story that when word of the Hindenburg disaster came to the family home in 1937, his 9 year old sister Virginia was playing the piano, learning this piece. His Dad, my grandfather and a very fine pianist, took her place and played the movement through. My Dad ever after associated this Sonata with the disaster and I once saw him tear up at hearing it in a recital. So I played it at my Grandfather’s memorial service in January 1979. This made a deep impression.
Is that piano left out in the elements, or is it moved into place? Even an upright is hard to move. Perhaps the elephants help.
Someone needs to send this link to Jay Nordlinger, who will no doubt have other trenchant observations that I have missed. I dislike his recent politics, but he is a master of understanding art music in modern culture.
And finally, I have always found A-flat, the key of this movement, to be a restful, soothing key. It’s an awkward key for string instruments so orchestral music is not often thus keyed. It would be nice to have more orchestral music in A-flat.
Are you sure he isn’t playing The Elephant’s Waltz?
Music for elephants includes: Baby Elephant Walk
Barnum and Bailey’s Favorite
and my favorite, Stravinsky’s Circus Polka, written for B&B. Stravinsky agreed to the commission “only if they are very young elephants”.
I love elephants. These African elephants were painted by neighbor and given to me. They hang in our den.
Simply lovely. And incredibly relaxing. Have put the link on my desktop so I have it to watch the next time something fussles my boogie. Thanks for this post.
No. He makes a point in several of his videos that the keys are not ivory.
Here’s another lovely one, a little Debussy:
I imagine that those vibrations from the piano are picked up not only through the ears, but also through vibrations in the ground. I found it interesting in the first video that the elephant hovered close to the piano, with his trunk and mouth near the lid, and that he put his trunk over the piano, and enveloped the piano.
Music is a very sensory experience.
You’ll notice it is acoustic, not recorded music. :)
here is another delight:
Here’s Armen Ksajikian playing for bears at the Fortress of the Bears bear sanctuary in Sitka Alaska.
…with my commentary.
Apparently Armen Ksajikian also played for the raptors at Sitka.
He is very well known in the Sitka Wildlife Community. He is also with the California Phil.
A person could do worse than follow him on Facebook.
I was thinking the same thing. The elephant appeared to be moving rhythmically but to a different drummer, so to speak; elephants are sensitive to frequencies below the human audible spectrum. It would be very interesting to see a representation of the low frequency part of the piano’s output displayed in real time as the elephant moves.
I even wonder if the hairs on their body “hear” through the skin.
Sound is vibration. So feeling vibration, is that a kind of hearing?
Especially with all those hairs on their ears being able to vibrate, I’d think.
Here’s some info on elephant hearing. It doesn’t mention the hairs, though.