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The classically trained Boston Bomber

A pull-together portrait of Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the best old-time traditions of the New York Times reveals, in passing, that the Boston Bomber was an accomplished pianist who liked to play classical music. Here’s the passage:

During registration for a (boxing) tournament in Lowell, he sat down at a piano and lost himself for 20 minutes in a piece of classical music. The impromptu performance, so out of place in that world, finished to a burst of applause from surprised onlookers.

“He just walked over from the line and started playing like he was in the Boston Pops,” his trainer at the time, Gene McCarthy, 77, recalled.

What can we reasonably derive from this snippet of cultural information?

Stol-yarsky Music School with a por-trait of Lenin on the wall. 1982

1 That the dreadful old Soviet system delivered a more rounded form of education.

2 That  music can play a calming role in confused and alienated lives.

3 That no young person need ever feel ashamed of playing classical music in the gym.

4 That classical music does not make anyone a better human being.

I find all aspects of this trainer’s anecdote deeply troubling.

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  1. Egads, you mean a classical music education won’t stop you from becoming a mass murderer? Here’s me thinking that it was a panacea for all the worlds woes.

    Now I may be wrong, but didn’t Adolf Hitler rather like Wagner’s music? I wonder if Hitler played the piano? He painted…

    • hmm,…. mass murderers; Nixon played the piano,too….

      and this newest whole false flag, tTamerlan eliminated in different stories from the set-u authorities, ……
      guilty until proved otherwise and ,,
      ,’they do shoot the piano players…some in the USA?

      revolting blaming every event on Islam!

      do we refer to every crime in the West as done by Christian terrorists?

      • In fact, Nixon played the violin. His picture as a 13 year-old with a violin was in Life Magazine. (He received an honorary degree from Temple University in 1955 — the same year in which Gregor Piatigorsky was presented with an honorary degree!)

      • “do we refer to every crime in the West as done by Christian terrorists?”

        -No, only the crimes that are perpetrated by Christian or Muslim terrorists in the name of their respective beliefs.

      • Basia Jaworski says:

        He was a muslim, he did it and he did it in the name of Allah.
        When a Chrstian will do the same in the name of Jesus then we can call him a Christian terrorist, for sure.
        So – what is your point, Christopher?

        • Bingo, Basia. Thank you for calling it exactly right, as usual. Brava!

        • Fabio Fabrici says:

          Do we actually know why he did it or do we just assume?

          • Usually the fanatics in the US, UK or Europe tend to be 2nd generation immigrants. The 1st generation is too busy making a living to want to compromise their status in their adopted country and a chance to prosper. The kids however don’t fit into the new society, have mixed messages from their parents as to what values they should keep or discard. They hate and love the ubiquitous material lifestyle that they cannot fully achieve so they set out to destroy it using religion as an excuse.
            Borrowing a hero stature raises their miserable opinions of themselves. I was surprised that they didn’t blow themselves up in Boston but it seems they had other plans for an Armageddon in Times Square that was thankfully thwarted by running out of gas in the SUV they commandeered from which the owner managed to escape at the gas station. He recognized the word “Manhattan” in their otherwise unintelligible speech.
            The denouement.unravelled quickly after that.

          • Basia Jaworski says:

            Yes, we do. We do have the telephone tapes.

  2. Glad someone else picked up on this tidbit. But there was also mention that when Tamerlan Tsarnaev became interested in radical Islam, he stopped playing piano and violin, which he’d also previously enjoyed playing.

    As I recall, music as a diversion is prohibited in Islam. Perhaps that is why he gave up the piano. Moral here is that if Tsarnaev had stuck with the piano instead of going into radical Islam he probably would be alive today and the bombings wouldn’t have happened.

  3. Mark Peters says:

    Dear Norman.
    As an eminent observer of occult and unprinted information in the world of classical music, adept at reading between the lines of official commentaries I would hope that in the case of this full-blown media show you might show more restraint in jumping to conclusions about the guilt of a suspect lynched before even being brought to trial. There exists a plethora of inconsistencies in the “official story” of the Boston tragedy which make it very difficult to arrive at iron-clad certainties about what really happened. Which is to say in this case at least not all hope is lost for the potentially edifying power of the muse.

    • “There exists a plethora of inconsistencies in the “official story” of the Boston tragedy which make it very difficult to arrive at iron-clad certainties about what really happened. Which is to say in this case at least not all hope is lost for the potentially edifying power of the muse”
      Thankyou for this sane riposte amidst all these crazy assumptions.

      • Are you suggesting that you do not believe the Tsarnaev brothers committed the crimes? That is the only issue in play here. How and why will be sorted. That it occurred is not in dispute, clearly.

  4. Gary Carpenter says:

    Not wishing to be unduly pedantic, but didn’t the Soviet system cease to exist before the suspect was born?

    • No. He was born in 1986.

    • The names may have changed but systems don’t change so easily. Stalin persecuted and killed Chechens big time and it didn’t stop with Putin.

      • Fabio Fabrici says:

        It’s funny how everybody has all the empathy for the chechens, when they are the evil Russki’s enemies, but when the same type of backward muslim extremists bomb a bus in Haifa or elsewhere in the west, they are the evil terrorists. We have really f***d up minds.

        • It makes more sense to speak of individuals. Not all Russians were in favor of carpet bombing the Chechens (but probably a large swaith who would like Muslims to disappear).
          Even the estranged uncle of the two bombers was angered by the bombing and called his nephews losers, told them to ask forgiveness. The point is though when the tribal mentality kicks in, making excuses, stonewalling and protecting one’s own no matter how objectively criminal they might be.

  5. Reggie Benstein says:

    He also liked hip-hop.
    The human personality is complex. It’s the duality that gets to us; it’s easier to explain things when seen in black and white.

  6. Department of “Take everything too seriously”. So what? It’s like the protagonist of “Shine” giving a spontaneous performance of The Flight of the BUmbebee in a bar. The sheer irrelevance relative to the horror overwhelms the imagaination.

  7. There’s a recurrent subtext in some US popular culture, that connects ‘European’ high culture (often represented by classical music) with an alien, ‘un-American’, even dangerous, psychological state. (The use of Bach in ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ is just one of the most obvious examples). It’s implied to be suspicious, unhealthy. This story plays directly to that.

    • Forgive me, but that is one pathetic and ignorant statement. American movies are hardly the only genre that takes advantage of the treasure trove of classical music to support a scene.

      As for those uncouth Americans, who can now enjoy the privilege of being assassinated or maimed by a sick soul with some music training, they ought to be equally thankful, I suppose, for this great show of support from some commentators. Last I checked, European and Asian targets are not too far down the list on the Holy Warrior hit parade.

  8. Norma Procter says:

    It simply serves to show how thin the line between humanity and inhumanity.

  9. Looks like Tamerlan Tsarnaev didn’t like violinists, at least not this one:

  10. It seems to me that there is a far stretch between “classically trained” (whatever that is) and what you do with it. because you can play the piano and dash off (as many kids do) a piece or two- does that make you a pianist?

    I don’t know if I’m classically trained or not. I know I took Latin in high school, started piano lessons because Mom insisted I take 1 year of lessons, at age 8 and continued, doubling with organ lessons and even 1 year of music school before switching muses and going to art school. I would never consider myself a pianist or an organist because I did not maintain a discipline of study and practice. Yet those skills and appreciations are an integral part of me.

    The sad thing for me is that people with less practice or discipline or whatever put the title of pianist or organist on me. The other sad thing is that I see a real lack of drive and discipline in the every day folk I have around me to the point that for many, I have to be “off my rocker” because I’m always at the work of study and practice in my art studio.

    What’s the point? Any of this has nothing to do with a fragile mentality upended. And how dare we think otherwise. Look at this particular digest for a good perspective on the difference between playing at (a piano or cello) and being (a pianist or cellist).

    And music performed as music (and not notes from a page) has the ability to transform us from the inside out.

  11. José Lastarria says:

    If it’s an attempt to render him more, er, human, then it’s in extremely poor taste. A newspaper in Toulouse did the same thing with Mohamed Merah just days after the carnage he wrought in the Jewish school, printing testimonies from social workers (with me so far?) about what a lovely lad he used to be. Loathsome.

  12. Even though I am a professional classical musicians myself, I feel the claim classical music makes a person nicer or smarter is just plain marketing BS.

  13. Surely there’s more insight to be gained from studying the psychological impact of being dressed like a girl, and wearing a blonde ponytail, at a boxing competition. Should be bookmarked for future study at least.

    Also, this reported feat would have been more impressive if done with boxing gloves still on. I’m pretty sure I’ve been to a recital where this was attempted, but I confess I couldn’t see the keyboard from my seat.

  14. Robt. Switzer says:

    I don’t see the anecdote as anything more than an illustration of one of many sides of a particular individual. Perhaps many believe that a person who would commit such an atrocious act would have a narrow interest, i.e., pursuing his terrorist goals to the exclusion of all other activities. What the trainer’s story tells me is that we can’t judge a book by its cover.

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