Daily Bow: Remembering Sandor Feher

Daily Bow LogoThe disastrous fate of the Costa Concordia cruise ship has been at the top of the news since the ship ran aground in Italy on the 13th of January. The tragedy has been enormous, reaching across the world and affecting families from Europe, Asia, and the United States. The latest reports have the death toll reaching a saddening 16, with passengers as yet unaccounted for. The stories from the night of the disaster read like a modern-day retelling of the Titanic nightmare: an unexpected collision, chaos and disorganization, and an evacuation into chilly waters.

Among the dead on the Costa Concordia was Hungarian violinist Sandor Feher, who was contracted to perform on the cruise ship. Feher, 38, hailed from a musical family in Budapest. Feher’s body was the first to be found and identified inside the ship’s wreckage, and he was last seen alive helping panicking children to put on life-jackets before helping them to board lifeboats during the evacuation.

Feher’s heroism aboard the Concordia stemmed from a lifelong love of children and teaching. In a video resume posted on YouTube, Feher speaks about his musical upbringing and his aspirations as a teacher of music. This unintentional self-eulogy is one of the only things that the world at large knows about Feher, and it is a poignant look at a man who is not unlike so many of us: he feels that every opportunity he had to play music was a privilege, and he speaks of his excitement about the teaching method that he used in his experience throughout Europe. The method he refers to incorporates folk songs and children’s songs from around the world, and he speaks to its efficacy, innovation, and unique quality.

Feher’s YouTube video is an arresting glimpse into a life cut too short too soon by needless tragedy. He speaks of his enthusiasm for bringing music to young players, and it’s heartbreaking to realize that his dreams of teaching and continuing to live for his art, as he so evidently did, will not come to pass. Feher’s dedication to his art and to bettering the lives of children everywhere continued to be his focus even at the terrifying end of his life: he first helped children into lifeboats, then returned to his cabin to pack his violin before abandoning ship.

Although many musicians had not heard his name before his untimely death, Sandor Feher’s example is one that has touched members of the musical community across the world. Although many of us did not lose family in the Concordia crash, we lost a member of our extended musical family. Let us continue to work for the things he held so dear: music and the musicians of tomorrow. In doing so, we may honor in our own small way the memory of a man who lived to serve music. It is a beautiful life we have all been given by music; let us make sure that we spread that gift as much as our lives may allow us to do so.

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