"Every great work of art has two faces, one toward its own time and one toward the future, toward eternity."

Happy birthday Daniel Barenboim!

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Daniel Barenboim (born November 15, 1952) is an Argentine-born conductor and pianist. He has been the musical director of many major symphonies including the English Chamber Orchestra, the Berlin State Opera, the Staatskapelle Berlin, La Scala, and many others. He is known for his work with Palestinian scholar Edward Said on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

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Barenboim was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina to Aida (née Schuster) and Enrique Barenboim. His parents were musical and were his primary piano instructors when he was a child. He was only seven years old when he gave his first concert. 

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At the age of nine, his parents took him to Salzburg to study conducting with Igor Markevitch. It was during that visit that he also met conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler, who wrote a recommendation for Barenboim that would become a major catalyst in his career. However, while Barenboim had been invited to perform with Furtwängler, his father felt it was too soon after the war for a child of Jewish descent to perform publicly in Berlin. (Image source)

At this juncture, Barenboim went to Paris to study harmony and composition with Nadia Boulanger. In 1954, he made his first recordings. He performed in Paris, London, and New York in 1955, 1956, and 1957 respectively.

Barenboim spent much of the next decade focussing on conducting. He debuted with the English Chamber Orchestra in 1966 and conducted the orchestra for over a decade. During this time, he conducted many other symphony orchestras in both Europe and the United States.

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From 1975 to 1989, he was Music Director of the Orchestre de Paris.

He made his operatic debut in 1973 with a performance of Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Edinburgh Festival.

After serving a short stint as the artistic and musical director of the Opera-Bastille in Paris and being fired in 1989, he became the musical director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He held the post until 2006. Since 1992, he has been music director of the Berlin State Opera and the Berlin Staatskapelle.

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In addition to conducting, Barenboim has also always been a prominent chamber musician.

In the early 1990s, Barenboim met Palestinian writer and scholar Edward Said. The two formed a fast friendship and influenced each other greatly, despite being political opposites. Their dialogue on possible conciliatory work between Palestine and Israel led Barenboim to perform in the West Bank and other parts of Palestine. Their collaboration has culminated in the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, a workshop for young Middle Eastern musicians.

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Rehearsal under the direction of Daniel Barenboim, in Pilas, Seville, Spain, on July 25, 2005 (source)

 

Their work earned them Spain's Prince of Asturias Concord Prize in 2002. Said has since died, but Barenboim has remained loyal to the project in the form of many concerts and the Barenboim-Said Foundation.

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(l-r) Peter Kirchner, President of Germany Richard von Weizsäcker, and Barenboim visit Jewish cemetery in Berlin-Weissensee (1990) (source)

Barenboim has won the Goethe Medal and many other awards.

Barenboim is a citizen of Argentina, Israel, Palestine, and Spain. He lives in Germany.

 

Selected performances and appearances:

 

Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Saturday, 15 November 2014
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