Vedran Smailović (born 11 November 1956), known as the "Cellist of Sarajevo", is a musician from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and a former cellist in the Sarajevo String Quartet.
He played in the Sarajevo Opera, the Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra, The Symphony Orchestra RTV Sarajevo, and the National Theatre of Sarajevo.
Regularly playing his cello in ruined buildings during the siege of Sarajevo, most notably performing Albinoni's Adagio in G Minor, Smailović caught the imagination of people around the world. In his honour, composer David Wilde wrote a piece for solo cello, The Cellist of Sarajevo, which was recorded by Yo Yo Ma. Paul O'Neill described Smailović's performances as the inspiration for Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24 by Savatage and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Folk singer John McCutcheon also penned a song in his honour, In the Streets of Sarajevo.
Canadian author Elizabeth Wellburn worked with Smailović to create the children's book Echoes from the Square (1998). Another Canadian author, Steven Galloway, used Smajlović as a peripheral character in his bestselling 2008 novel, The Cellist of Sarajevo. In the book, Smajlović plays every day at 4:00 pm for 22 days, always at the same time and location, to honour the 22 people killed by a mortar bomb while they queued for bread on May 26, 1992. The account, including the time of the mortar attack, is fictional. Smailović publicly expressed outrage over the book's publication. He said, "They steal my name and identity," and added that he expected damages, an apology and compensation.
Smailović also played at funerals during the siege, even though funerals were often targeted by snipers. He escaped the city in late 1993 and has since been involved in numerous music projects as a performer, composer and conductor.
He lives in Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license