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Musicians give free online concerts to beat coronavirus / Reuters

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Bans on mass gatherings introduced to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic might have been expected to deal a death blow to musical life, but have instead prompted a boom in free online concerts. One musician to step up to the plate is Russian-German pianist Igor Levit, who took to Twitter on Thursday evening to stream an impromptu rendition of Beethoven's Waldstein Sonata Op. 53 from his Berlin flat to entertain audiences penned at home by the virus.

Across Europe and the world, authorities are shuttering schools, museums, bars and concert halls in an effort to prevent the kind of close physical contact that fosters the transmission of a virus that has killed more than 4,000 people worldwide. Germany has so far reported 2,369 confirmed coronavirus cases and five deaths. Berlin, among other German cities and regions, has announced plans to gradually close schools and reduce public transport over the coming week. "It's a sad time, it's a weird time, but acting is better than doing nothing," Levit told viewers of his stream, before sitting down at his Steinway to trill the piece's swooping opening bars.

"Let's bring the house concert into the 21st century!"