Pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim turns 80. – Culture


In his life, so rich in music, Daniel Barenboim gave his audience many unforgettable moments, the most outstanding of which took place in August 2005. At that time, Barenboim conducted a concert of his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, founded in 1999, in Ramallah, in the West Bank. This orchestra is a utopia that has become reality, consists of young people, mostly from Israel and the surrounding Arab countries, who make music together and use art to exemplify what seems so impossible in the Middle East: to overcome hatred together. In the case of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.

The concert in the Ramallah Palace of Culture, which was bizarrely secured due to the fear of terrorist attacks, was of course much more than a musical performance, it was a political act, something Barenboim knows quite well. The days before he dragged you through the West Bank, took you to Palestinian intellectuals and artists, to refugee settlements and walked to the wall that separates Israeli from Palestinian territory. At the same time, he seemed so red-hot that he wanted to tear down this wall himself. Also in the concert rehearsals and the performance itself he was by no means the nice leader of a youth tour group, he was also the conductor, who absolutely expected the highest performance from his musicians. With this indispensability, he irritated his whole life, but he can’t help it, because friendliness alone doesn’t necessarily achieve what you want to achieve, certainly not politically.

He was what you would call a child prodigy and made his debut with Beethoven sonatas at the age of seven

Daniel Barenboim was born exactly 80 years ago, on November 15, 1942, in Buenos Aires, his parents were both piano teachers, the family has a Russian-Jewish background. He was what is called a child prodigy, made his debut in his hometown in 1950 with Beethoven sonatas, played at the Salzburg Mozarteum a year later, and won his first competition in 1954, when the family was already living in Israel. In his later years as a pianist, he was able to amaze again and again that the musical text increasingly became an interesting suggestion for him, which one can deal with freely.

In the 1950s he was already surrounded by the aura of musical genius, and in the 1960s he began conducting. In terms of his management activities, legend follows legend, he was musical director of the Orchester de Paris, the Bastille Opera in Paris, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Milan Scala, made the Bayreuth “Ring” an event from 1988, traveled with the Berliner Philharmoniker to Israel, where he caused a tumult when he performed the prelude to Richard Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” as an encore to a concert at the Israel Festival in 2001. He has been General Music Director of the Berlin State Opera since 1992, and wrested the Berlin Senate from the house’s extensive support. He has been conductor for life there since 2000, a title he takes very literally. As is so often the case, Barenboim can be very stubborn without paying much attention to his health. Happy Birthday.



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