A sparkling career in 8 decades

An unrivaled pianist and conductor, teacher and peacemaker, the celebrated Argentine musician has gone from concerts to collaborations, from meetings to adventures around the world… Here are the highlights of his remarkable journey, decade after decade.

1942-5, Martha, Beethoven, and Prokofiev

Daniel Barenboim was born on November 15, 1942 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. His parents, Aida and Enrique Barenboim, Jews of Russian descent, are both professional pianists. Unsurprisingly, young Daniel was introduced to the piano at the age of five, first by his mother before continuing at his father’s side. He will be his only mentor.

At this time, he also met a young musician named Martha Argerich, with whom he formed a deep friendship: “I have known Martha Argerich since 1949. There was a house in Buenos Aires, owned by a former violinist and businessman, in which chamber music was played every Friday. […] I haven’t known almost anyone for a long time. »

On August 19, 1950, at the age of seven, Daniel Barenboim gave his first official concert at the Sala Beyer in his hometown, with works by Beethoven and Prokofiev on the programme. There is no doubt that the long career of the young musician is in full swing.

Daniel Barenboim in 1956
Daniel Barenboim in 1956

© Getty
– L Blandford

27 minutes

1952-1962, under the watchful eyes of Markievicz and Furtwängler

In 1952, the Barenboim family moved to Israel, which had been founded just four years earlier. During the long journey, a stop is made in Salzburg so that Daniel can take part in Igor Markievicz’s summer course. The teacher then declares that his student will never be a pianist: young Daniel has been made to be a conductor. However, Daniel Barenboim would make his keyboard debut at Carnegie Hall in 1957, along with Leopold Stokowski.

At the same time he met the great great Wilhelm Furtwängler, who was deeply impressed by his musical talents. The latter will have a profound effect on Daniel Barenboim’s life and career and will always be good advice. He wants to invite the young musician to play in the Berlin Philharmonic, which he directs, but Daniel’s father believes that it is still too early for a Jew to go to play in Germany. From the winter of 1954, for a year and a half, he studied contrast and composition in Paris with the famous teacher, Nadia Boulanger.

27 minutes

1962-1972 Jacqueline Du Pré and Political Commitment

In 1966, Daniel Barenboim met cellist Jacqueline du Pré in London. Even before talking to each other, they play Brahms Sonatas together. The two musicians got married just a few months later, on June 15, 1967 in Jerusalem. Thus begins a long and fruitful union formed in music. They embark on countless musical projects together. integration Trio with piano Written by Beethoven with Pinchas Zukerman was engraved in just three days between the end of December 1969 and the beginning of January 1970. Cello Concerto by Edward Elgar is also one of their notable recordings.

Daniel Barenboim and Jacqueline Du Pré in London in 1968
Daniel Barenboim and Jacqueline Du Pré in London in 1968

© Getty
Evening standard

27 minutes

Daniel Barenboim was a great advocate for human rights and particularly the cause of the Palestinians, and over the decade he became a politically committed musician, a fierce critic of conservative governments in Israel and of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. ” Since the sixties, I no longer feel comfortable in Israel. Of course, this is my home. My parents lived there and both are buried in Jerusalem. Whenever there was war in Israel, I played there: in 1956, 1967, 1973. Music was my language, my “weapon” “, admits the musician during an interview in tagespiegel German.

1972-1982, Opera and the Orchester de Paris

The 1970s heralded the emergence of Daniel Barenboim as an opera director. driving Don Giovanni Mozart at the Edinburgh Festival in 1973. He also made his debut at Bayreuth in 1981, conducting Tristan and Isolde. He would return there regularly until 1999 to direct bellAnd the Parsifal And the Meistersinger Nuremberg… more than 160 productions in total.

In 1975 he was appointed music director of the Orchester de Paris, of which he remained until 1989. He introduced contemporary music into the orchestra’s repertoire: works by Boulez, Dutilleux, Lutosławski, Berio, Takemitsu, and Henze.

27 minutes

1982-1992, Paris, Chicago, Bayreuth

In 1988, Daniel Barenboim was appointed artistic and musical director of the Opéra Bastille in Paris, which was scheduled to open in 1990. But after a disagreement with the head of the Paris Opera Pierre Bergé, he was sacked shortly before the opening. At the same time, he succeeded Sir Georg Solti as Musical Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, an ensemble he first conducted in 1970. His years at the helm of the American Legions were formative for Daniel Barenboim: “ I wouldn’t be the musician that I am without going through the Chicago Orchestra He admits in the orchestra with a France Musique microphone.

26 minutes

His debut at Bayreuth with the music of Richard Wagner led him to speak out against the banning of the composer’s work in Israel. ” Wagner, the person, is so awful, vile, and so hard to relate him to the music he wrote, which often has exactly the opposite sort of sentiment… noble, generousmade clear during a 1999 conversation with Palestinian-American scholar, literary theorist, pianist, and critic Edward Said. […] As brutal as Wagner’s anti-Semitism is, I don’t think he can be held responsible, although many Nazi thinkers often cited Wagner as their predecessor. »

1992-2002 Peoples Reconciliation

In 1992 Daniel Barenboim was appointed music director of the Staatsoper unter dem Linden in Berlin and the Staatskapelle Berlin. Eight years later, he was made conductor for life. In 1999, he founded one of the most emblematic projects of his career: the West-East Diwan Orchestra. Created in collaboration with Edward Said, the ensemble brings together many young classical musicians from Israel, the Palestinian territories and Arab countries each year to study and play together in order to promote dialogue and mutual understanding.

Daniel Barenboim and the Western and Eastern Diva Orchestra
Daniel Barenboim and the Western and Eastern Diva Orchestra

© Getty
– Frank Hunch

On July 7, 2001, during a concert with the Berlin Staatskapelle in Jerusalem, Barenboim created a political scandal when he decided to perform an excerpt from Tristan and Isolde by Wagner, a composer expelled from Israel for his association with the Third Reich and the Holocaust.

2002-2012 European rapprochement and support for Gaza

After the resignation of Riccardo Muti in 2006, Daniel Barenboim was appointed Principal Conductor of La Scala in Milan and then Musical Director in 2011. In November 2006, he declined Lorraine Maazel’s offer to succeed him as Musical Director of the New York Philharmonic, stating that nothing could be He reversed his desires further than the idea of ​​returning to the United States for a permanent position. However, he will debut at New York’s Metropolitan Opera in 2008. He also debuted at the famous Vienna New Year’s Gala in 2009, an honor he renews in January 2014 and more recently in January 2022.

In 2006 he was awarded the prestigious Ernst von Siemens Prize, dubbed the “Nobel Prize for Music”. He was awarded honorary Palestinian citizenship after playing in Ramallah, becoming the first Jewish Israeli citizen to receive this status. In May 2011, Barenboim brought together volunteer musicians from the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the Staatskapelle in Berlin, the La Scala Orchestra in Milan, the Vienna Philharmonic and the Paris Philharmonic in order to create the “Gaza Orchestra”. They are performing together in the Gaza Strip with the support of the United Nations.

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In recognition of his career and his work in favor of reconciliation in the Middle East through music, between 2002 and 2011 he received no less than 25 awards and honorary titles from all over the world.

2012-2022, broadcasting career

Over the past decade, Daniel Barenboim has turned to pedagogy. In 2012, he founded the Barenboim Said Academy in Berlin, where young music students from the Arab world and Israel are welcome to continue their studies in music and the humanities. He also lent his name to a character in French cartoons Max and Maestrowhere a young boy meets Daniel Barenboim, hoping to introduce more children to classical music.

On October 5, 2022, on the cusp of his 80th birthday, Daniel Barenboim announced his retirement from the stage after eight decades in the heart of music: “ I have lived my whole life in and through music, and I will continue to do so as long as my health allows.. Looking at the past and the future, I not only feel satisfied, but also deeply satisfied. This is how the conductor sums up an accomplished life in music.

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