Aeham Ahmad – born in Damascus in the year 1988 – belongs to the Palestinian minority in Syria and lived with his family until 2015 in the refugee camp Yarmouk, to where in 1948 his grandfather fled from Palestine. His musical talent was supported from early years, at the age of five his father taught him to play the piano. At the age of 23 he graduated from the conservatorium in Damascus and Homs. Due to the injury by a piece of shrapnel in his right hand a career as a classical concert pianist will likely remain closed for him.
Meanwhile, the former refugee camp has become a suburb of Damascus, but catastrophic conditions prevail there for years. Again and again the settlement was caught between the fronts of different sides and is now in many parts destroyed. Yarmuk is still besieged and no organization comes in to distribute food. The camp has disappeared from the public consciousness.
And this is my message: that you think of these people, and that the world finally becomes aware of them again.
– Aeham Ahmad, ARD Tagesschau, 2015
Risking his life the pianist played his piano in the streets of Yarmouk to transmit a little hope and joy through playing music to the people. In spring 2015, due to the imposed ban of music the Islamists burned his instrument in front of his eyes. Since this incident, his life was under serious threat.
Aeham Ahmad fled from Syria via Turkey, Greece, Serbia, Croatia and Austria in August 2015 and reached Munich in September. From there he was finally allocated via Gießen to the Hessian capital Wiesbaden. He was forced to leave Syria without his wife and two sons.
The piano was my friend, it is as if they killed my friend.
– Aeham Ahmad, CNN, 2015
Since his arrival in Germany Aeham Ahmad performed countless concerts in various German cities such as Berlin, Bonn, Munich, Leipzig, Berlin, Cologne and Stuttgart and convinced with the intensity and virtuosity of his performances, in which he played besides Beethoven and Mozart mainly original compositions and traditional songs. In Munich he performed on the concert “Stars say thank you” for refugee helpers with Sportfreunde Stiller, Judith Holofernes and Herbert Grönemeyer, and in Cologne during a demonstration against sexual violence.
In the near future, there are numerous concerts scheduled. In December 2015, the first International Beethoven Prize for Human Rights was awarded to him which he received personally in the presence of the pianist Martha Argerich in the Bundeskunsthalle Bonn.
Aeham Ahmads history shows that Beethoven’s desire for freedom and his faith in the power of music have not lost their significance to the present day.
– Ashok Sridharan, Mayor of Bonn, Award Presentation 2016
For the exhibition “Curriculum Vitae (C.V.) – Intellectual Free Trade Zone” he gave at Nassauischer Kunstverein Wiesbaden several concerts and carried by the music his message of hope and peace in his new home, the Hessian state capital and beyond. His concern is “to prove the world that the majority of Syrians do not want this war,” said Aeham Ahmad in an interview with Deutsche Welle.
Many consider him mad, some always thought so. People are hungry, and he plays music. But it’s more than that, it’s the principle, therefore, that he simply refuses this war, the domination of death and violence that he holds on to what man is in his best moments: sensitive to beauty. And for his next of kin. He is an artist in the best sense.
– Sonja Zekri, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 2015
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