By Remi Chiu

In March 2020 Raffaele Kohler, a Milanese trumpeter quarantined at home on account of COVID-19, found internet fame when a video of him playing his instrument at his window began circulating. Kohler explains that he played in order to instill hope, to cheer up and lend strength to his city. He also notes Milan has never faced such complete disruption before, not even under the bombardment of war. In fact, Milan has met with and overcome similar circumstances before. In one well-documented case—an especially devastating outbreak of plague in Milan between 1576 and 1578—the city also ground to a halt. And the Milanese, under a strict quarantine, even adopted a similar musical response.

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