81-Year-Old With Dementia Fulfills Lifelong Dream Of Conducting A Symphony Orchestra: ‘It Was Magical’

81-Year-Old With Dementia Fulfills Lifelong Dream Of Conducting A Symphony Orchestra: ‘It Was Magical’

Paul Harvey, a former music teacher and classical pianist, is coming alive and finding joy through music.

81-year-old Paul Harvey's musical talent went viral last year when his son Nick recorded him improvising a two-minute piece from four notes (F natural, A, D and B natural) and posted the clip on Twitter. Since then the elderly gentlemen with dementia has captured the hearts of many. Nick and Paul were set to prove that musical ability can transcend memory loss. Paul played the piano from his home in Sussex live on the television and it was recorded by BBC Philharmonic orchestra as a single, reports Good News Network. Proceeds of the performance went to the Alzheimer’s Society and Music for Dementia, which supports people with the condition to have free access to music as part of their care.




The single of "Four Notes - Paul's Tune" was aired on Radio 4's Broadcasting House last year, reports BBC. After hearing the recording of the single, Paul was so touched. "It was very, very moving and very thrilling at the same time... It's quite amazing that all this has happened, and in my 81st year. It's fantastic. It's given me a new lease of life and after we've all finished here I'll go to the piano and find another 'Four Notes'." Jason Warren, professor of neurology at the Dementia Research Centre at University College London, explained that the reason people with dementia can continue to play music is that it "makes sense on its own terms". "So unlike a lot of the tests and the things we might ask people with dementia to do in the clinic, for example, or in their everyday lives, music to some extent is almost self-contained." The expert did admit that what Paul did in his piece was "remarkable by any standard because what that also shows is his creativity".



It's been a year since the composer from Sussex played his composition on breakfast tv. To mark the special occasion he was invited to conduct the BBC Philharmonic orchestra playing two of his compositions at their studio in Salford. The pianist spent an emotional afternoon with the orchestra where he conducted "Four Notes". Nick also joined in and played the piano, along with an older composition of his called "Where’s the Sunshine." The session was incredibly "magical" for the 81-year-old.  Paul, a former music teacher and classical pianist, shared, "It was magical, it was very, very special to work with such wonderful musicians. It made me feel alive, I couldn't believe that an orchestra was playing my music and I was standing in front of it conducting them. I hadn't conducted in such a long time before this, it was a real thrill."



Nick is grateful to see his father "come alive again" ever since his viral footage. The proud son admitted, "It was a dream come true for dad to conduct and play with an orchestra of that caliber as an 81-year-old. My dad is still reeling, he was having memories of what had happened over the last few days. His short-term memory is generally shot to pieces but when big events like this happen it's like a branding iron on his brain. When I spoke to dad afterwards he was flooded with these memories of the orchestra. From my experience with dad, the right piece of music at the right time can be absolutely incredible. You don't have to be a talented musician to enjoy it though. Just listening to music, it starts to trigger memories of the past and gives people that connection. ad was having a particularly bad day at the time. It was fascinating how getting dad at the piano at that time brought dad back to me. For the first time in years he has got active again. It really brought him back to life again. He's playing the piano more than he has in the eight years."

Campaign Director at Music for Dementia, Grace Meadows added, "It was magical and moving and wonderful to watch him be in his element.  Seeing Paul the musician seeing beyond his diagnosis and have the contact  with the musicians was a wonderful thing. It was very emotional."