Play on! The most inspiring music moments that brought us hope in 2020

18 December 2020, 16:59 | Updated: 18 December 2020, 17:01

Inspiring music moments in 2020: Anne-Sophie Mutter; Andrea Bocelli; Quarantined musician
Inspiring music moments in 2020: Anne-Sophie Mutter; Andrea Bocelli; Quarantined musician. Picture: Social media/Getty

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

Through difficult times, music has shone through and given us some beautiful silver linings. We rank the most memorable musical moments of 2020.

2020 hasn’t been an easy year for artists and musicians. But somehow, they managed to pull through and give us these little treble clef-shaped glimmers of hope, proving that even in a pandemic – you can’t quarantine music.

  1. Anthony Hopkins playing for his cat

    2020 was the year social media users begged for light relief and welcome distractions from the news surrounding us every day. And Sir Anthony Hopkins, legend that he is, delivered. In a series of wholesome Twitter videos, the actor played piano for his cat, Niblo, while in self-isolation. It was just what the world needed.

    Anthony Hopkins serenades his beloved cat during self-isolation

  2. As anti-curfew riots unfold, a pianist plays

    ‘Violins, not violence’ was the message as this surreal footage emerged of a Barcelona street musician playing ‘Eternal Flame’ while riots unfolded in the background, as people protested against Spain’s coronavirus restrictions.

    Street pianist plays The Bangles' Eternal Flame as Barcelona riot unfolds right behind him

  3. Music has a moment on TikTok

    While the world went through a whirlwind of change, one thing remained constant – the beating heart of the TikTok community.

    Whether it was family dance routines or unexpectedly joyous ukulele solos, TikTok brought us artistic joy in many forms. As did the girl who got an entire harmonica stuck in her mouth, inadvertently beginning a new viral career as a Bob Dylan impersonator.

  4. 98-year-old pianist plays for 100 days, for the NHS

    Rebecca Parker, a 98-year-old woman from Scotland, completed her mission to play the piano every day for 100 days, raising money for the NHS in pandemic times. Proof that pianists are just wonderful people.

  5. Musicians take to squares to protest with music

    It’s been a desperate time for many musicians, with families to support, rent to pay and endless changing restrictions disrupting their flow of income.

    While no one can be certain when live shows will return to full strength, musicians have fought for their careers with some deeply moving protests around the country, with a plea to ‘let music live’.

    Let Music Live protest on London's Parliament Square

  6. Accordionist plays outside window for hospital-bound wife

    One doting husband took his accordion along on a visit to his hospital-bound wife, who has since passed away. When told he couldn’t enter the COVID-19 ward for safety reasons, he serenaded her from the outside window. Warding off pain in the most beautiful way.

    Posted by Valerio Marangon on Sunday, November 8, 2020
  7. Captain Tom becomes oldest musician in history to top the charts

    Veteran Captain Tom brought warmth to our anxious hearts and a new national hero into our lives with his ‘100th birthday walk for NHS’, which has since been voted the most touching moment of 2020.

    The centenarian, who has since been knighted, also released a cover of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ with the NHS Voices of Care choir, knocking the Weeknd off the top spot and becoming the oldest artist in history to claim a UK No. 1 single.

    Colonel Tom Moore on Classic FM Requests VE Day special

  8. Millions of people finding classical music online

    As concert halls were closed down, the world’s musical brains but their creative hats on and brought their music online in a plethora of wonderful ways – allowing millions around the world to experience classical music digitally, from some of the world’s greatest artists, and many for the first time.

    Great musicians in quarantine.

    The great musicians of our time are playing alone, and bringing us all closer together... 🎶❤️

    Posted by Classic FM on Saturday, April 4, 2020
  9. Andrea Bocelli breaks Internet history from Milan’s cathedral

    At Eastertime, beloved tenor Andrea Bocelli stood in an empty Milan cathedral, and sang for the world.

    His poignant ‘Music For Hope’ concert, which has since broken records to become the largest classical live stream in YouTube history, included sacred pieces from Rossini, Mascagni and Gounod, and the traditional spiritual ‘Amazing Grace’.

    Watch as Andrea Bocelli sings in Milan's empty Duomo cathedral

  10. Singing, playing and dancing together on Zoom

    2020: the year of the Zoom revolution. While in-person concerts and rehearsals were cancelled, musicians and singers turned to their video calling platforms of choice to perform, and even record, music from afar, while some very clever editing gremlins spliced together their work and created some truly gorgeous, virtual videos.

    Eric Whitacre might have started it with his massed choir videos, but 2020 brought virtual music-making to the forefront.

    Orchestra in self-quarantine host virtual concert and perform Ode to Joy

  11. Healthcare workers making music

    Working every day on the frontline to care for patients suffering with coronavirus, often without enough protective equipment to go around, some doctors and nurses reckoned they weren’t quite doing enough for their community already – and decided to bring out their musical instruments, too.

    There was the tenor who sang an impassioned ‘Nessun dorma’ for his fellow medics, the piano-playing nurse who brought joy to millions with her lovely NHS tribute, and even an entire orchestra of medical musicians who found support in each other, and solace in music, throughout the pandemic.

    Virtual medical orchestra plays Berlioz's thrilling Symphonie Fantastique

  12. Balcony duets

    Balcony duets were the defining image of early lockdown, as quarantined singers and musicians from Italy, Spain and Germany turned to what they did best – sharing music.

    Playing together through open windows and serenading rooftops with song, these musicians spread joy to their neighbours and the world, who watched and listened online, and saw hope.

    Italians play music from balconies to entertain each other during lockdown