Plato, the famous Athenian philosopher, once wrote, “Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”
Yet when we think about the wonders of music, we normally think about it terms of, you know, people. We conceptualize music in terms of concerts, MP3s and kicking back on the porch with your guitar.
People, though, aren’t the only creatures on God’s green earth who enjoy listening to a sweet strain. Classical pianist Paul Barton has been sharing his music with Thailand’s elephants.
According to his Patreon page, Barton has created numerous performance and tutorial videos for new and established pianists. He also helps composers bring their works to life for a wider audience.
CBS News also reported that Barton has performed for large audiences — and not all of them human. He became interested in playing for Thai elephants when he and his wife learned about Elephants World, a wildlife sanctuary.
“We liked the sound of the place being a retirement center for old, injured and handicapped former logging and trekking elephants,” he explained. “So we paid them a visit.
“I wondered if these old rescue elephants might like to listen to some slow classical music.” They more than liked it, and Barton believes it helps to calm them.
The top brass at Elephants World were quick to let him bring his piano and perform for the giant animals. According to The Week, the first piece he tried out for his large-eared audience was Beethoven.
As the notes rolled out, one massive elephant pulled up short and stood stock still. It turned out that the animal was blind.
That particular elephant was Barton’s first fan. And it visited him more than once.
Sadly, this gentle creature’s problems extended to more than its eyes.
Eventually, the animal fell prey to an infection. That infection would prove its final illness.
“[He] was often in pain, and I like to think maybe the soothing the music gave him some comfort in the darkness,” Barton said. “I was heartbroken when he died.”
However, many of his musical charges have enjoyed long lives. In fact, they still come to hear him play.
According to the Daily Mail, Elephant World serves as home to 30 different pachyderms. “Some elephants get very close to the piano of their own accord,” Barton said.
“They might drape their trunk over the piano even. Some younger elephants can get very surprised by the sound and will run suddenly around the piano curious about it. …
“They are not chained or tethered in any way. If they didn’t like the music, then they could simply wander off.”
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