Throughout history, notable people have devoted large amounts of time in their lives toward mastering musical instruments. Some learn purely for the pleasure of making beautiful sound, while others pick up music in hopes of nurturing a dream toward achieving recognition as masterminds of melody.
As with any wild dream, those whose achievements actually match the grandeur of their musical ambitions are few. However, there are a number of noted individuals whose weighty historical impact altogether avoided the musical arena, though if they had their way, they might have preferred recognition for their talents with a tune. If you’ve ever felt slightly alone in your passion for woodwinds, strings and brass, this list of 8 notable historical icons who were also musicians might pleasantly shock you.
- Alexander Graham Bell – Bell is known far and wide as a purveyor and innovator of sound, though not the musical type. Who knows? Maybe his love for the tunes of the piano keys he adamantly plunked inspired Bell to invent his true aural masterpiece: the telephone.
- Charles Dickens – Widely considered one of the greatest masters of language ever to pen a word, the man who gave us Ebeneezer Scrooge is infinitely more celebrated for his literary weight than his pastime as an accordion player.
- Meryl Streep – The critically acclaimed “best actress of her generation,” and most Academy Award nominated actress ever was a violin enthusiast long before proving her skill with strings and bow by strumming out “Bach’s Concerto for 2 Violins” during her performance in Music of the Heart.
- Neil Armstrong – When the realization that he was the first human being ever to step foot on a cosmic body other than earth finally sunk in, Neil Armstrong might have envisioned himself blasting out a triumphant solo on his favorite instrument, the baritone horn.
- Mahatma Gandhi – It is a little known fact this this lauded man of peace was also a man of the concertina, an accordion-like instrument.
- Condoleezza Rice – As the former 66th Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice remains a political powerhouse, although she might have become a concert pianist, were it not for a snap choice to alter her career trajectory early in her youth.
- Clint Eastwood – One of film’s original bad boys, it’s honestly a bit odd to picture Clint Eastwood calmly cranking out sonatas from the bench of his preferred instrument, the piano.
- Albert Einstein – Playing an instrument is associated with increased intelligence, so it’s no surprise that one of history’s greatest thinkers (and author of our modern notion of reality) enjoyed playing the violin in his free time.
History and social media tend to label historical figures and celebrities one dimensionally. But we are all whole human beings with a variety of interests, talents, accomplishments, and dreams. Wouldn’t it be sensational if you, if I, if everyone were presented and represented to each other for the completeness of who we are? We are not just what we are paid for monetarily. Isn’t it interesting to picture Condoleezza Rice at the keyboard of a grand piano on the stage at Carnegie Hall? Wasn’t it fun to watch Meryl Streep play the violin in a movie? Who are you? Aren’t you more than a one word definition? Me: writer, traveler, educator, actor, singer, guitar player, closet pianist, mom, dancer, believer, and almost a Senior!!! Saying you are a longer list of interesting nouns doesn’t mean you have to be an expert at any of it. Let others know you are more than your title. Bring your harp or trumpet to work this week, serenade your coworkers for a moment of levity and music!