Dolores and Augustin Martinovic are classical musicians who lived in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina during what was the longest siege of a capital city in modern warfare, lasting from 1992-1996. Dolores worked as a piano teacher while Augustin was the music director of the Sarajevo Radio-Television Symphony Orchestra. Dolores and Augustin have been living in Pittsburgh, PA, USA for over twenty years, but their life in Sarajevo is always in their minds and hearts. We visited the couple on a brisk December weekday during a lull in their lesson schedule. We were ushered into their warm living room, tastefully decorated with oil paintings (some painted by Augustin himself), rugs in the Turkish style warming the floor, a fireplace decked with dolls in traditional Croatian dresses, and a cheery Christmas tree gracing the corner opposite of Dolores’ black baby grand piano. Once coats were shed and hugs exchanged, Dolores bustled into the room with homemade cookies while Augustin offered us the choice of mid-afternoon coffee, eggnog, or cognac. Once everyone had settled down in a cozy circle in the couches and chairs, Dolores began to speak to us about their life in former Yugoslavia: their home, their lives’ work, their unending hope, and their new home.
Dolores: “When we had Christmas Eve in the Catholic Church, mostly Muslims, Jewish, and Orthodox attended. There was mutual respect. One moment the war starts and we don’t know why. Right now we still don’t even know why it started – between brother and sister. The war did start and it was a big tragedy.
Yugoslavia was one of the best states in Europe. We have really nice life, very good organization, economy, free school and college, good health insurance, everything. In one moment, everything went down. But this is world politics.
Every conflict is not between only little people, always it is something bigger than us and we cannot understand it. It’s not absolutely normal to [talk about the war] because we don’t understand it. It’s hard for people who lost somebody in the war in Sarajevo.”