Episode 46: None of Us Are Free

Nocturne in C minor, Op. 48, No. 1

rc-burma-200The opening scene is grey and grim. With a striking – and discordant – juxtaposition. Fighter pilots preparing to take off on a mission. But contrary to the clichés, the music to propel their thunderous ride isn’t by Wagner… it’s a fragile nocturne by Chopin.

Here's the story of Chopin’s role in a viral video bent on change in a troubled nation’s regime.

The nation in question is Myanmar, better known as Burma. Beset by notorious human-rights violations, and, in the spring of 2008, a devastating cyclone. The world watched helplessly as relief aid was turned away. Enter the strange alliance of MTV, a New York Ad Agency, and… Fryderyk Chopin.

The bomber planes descend on a common target: Burma. The doors open and they drop their payload. The music suddenly gets more agitated.

But these planes are bombing Burma with a carpet of Flowers. Red poppies, swirling around the Burmese capital, and floating harmlessly to the ground. Accompanied by a simple message: “To the Peace-Loving People of Burma: We support you in this time of crisis. From your Friends Around the World.”

The 90-second spot was called “Burma Viral,” and it was just that: MTV played it, and shared it on video sites around the world. Fryderyk Chopin famously loved fresh flowers. And though Schumann described Chopin’s music as “guns buried in his flowers”, this time, the reverse was true; the music delivered a message of peace – and hope. - Jennifer Foster & Benjamin K. Roe

Radio Chopin Episode 46: None of Us Are Free

Nocturne in C minor, Op. 48, No. 1