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'I Don't Know It': Mom With Dementia Plays Beethoven

For Elaine Lebar, 92, 'life makes sense' at the piano
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 15, 2020 1:30 PM CST

(Newser) – Elaine Lebar may have dementia, but she still knows her way around a keyboard—and hasn't forgotten the third movement of Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata," TMZ reports. A video of the 92-year-old playing the piece recently became a hit on TikTok. "I don't know it," she says of the music, before digging into the opening notes with gusto. ABC 7 News reports that her daughter Randi Lebar recorded the performance at a senior living community in Massachusetts. "I did not anticipate that it would go viral but here we are," said Randi. "My mom, a professional musician, has significant dementia, but life makes sense to her at the piano." And like others suffering from the disease, music stuck with Elaine despite her short-term memory loss.

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Randi said she hasn't visited her mom for months due to the coronavirus pandemic, so she began posting videos of Elaine's playing. "The US was at the height of its presidential campaign, with the ridiculous politicization of masks, and it struck me that the people talking about their 'personal freedom' had no understanding of the precious and irreplaceable time that they were taking from me and all the other relatives of the elderly," she told Metro. "I posted the initial video as a silent rant—I had no desire to enter the vituperative mask debate." The music-publication site Hal Leonard notes that Lebar has degrees from Brooklyn College, University of Missouri, and Conservatory of Musical Art in Manhattan, and has published music of her own. (Read more uplifting news stories.)

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