The Well-Tempered Ear

Ailing superstar maestro and pianist Daniel Barenboim, 80, quits longtime German opera post

January 7, 2023
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By Jacob Stockinger

Yesterday — Friday, Jan. 6, 2023 — superstar maestro and pianist Daniel Barenboim, 80, resigned his longtime post of over 30 years as director of the Berlin State Opera.

Barenboim (below) cited ill health — specifically a severe inflammation of blood vessels — as the reason for his resignation.

Local residents might recall his long tenure at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, where many of them probably heard him conduct and perhaps even perform as a concert pianist.

Here is a long biographical entry in Wikipedia:

Below are links to two news articles about Barenboim’s decision. 

In them you can read a lot of details about: his philosophy of interpretation; his childhood as a Jewish child prodigy in Argentina; his training and early career as both pianist and conductor; his performances with marriage to British cellist Jacqueline du Pré, who died young; his love of German music and his role in Germany’s reunification; his controversial criticism of how Israel treats Palestinians; and the orchestra and music school he co-founded with the Palestinian activist and world-famous literary scholar Edward Said.

Here is a story from British newspaper The Guardian:

And here is the story from the German broadcasting network and media conglomerate Deutsche Welle:

Finally, here is a recent compilation video from the outstanding arts website and streaming service to celebrate Barenboim’s recent 80th birthday. It is called “80 Minutes with the Barenboim” and it features many other classical luminaries such as Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman and Pierre Boulez who have been vital to his life and global career.

Do you know any of Barenboim’s many recordings?

Do you have a favorite recording to recommend?

Did you ever hear Barenboim in person conduct or play the piano?

What did you think of him? Of his conducting or playing?

The Ear wants to hear.

Classical music is happening in Africa too.

March 11, 2012

By Jacob Stockinger

What about Africa?

We hear a lot about classical music these days.

But the news and other stories usually comes from North America and South America, from Europe and Asia.

We even hear about classical music in the Middle East, especially about the joint Israeli-Palestinian East-West Divan Orchestra (below) founded by Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said.

But we don’t ever hear much about classical music in Africa, which is more in the headlines these days for war and conflict, brutality and corruption.

And that strikes The Ear as too bad, as regrettable, even as reprehensible.

That silence about positive cultural life just ends up adding to the mythical and stereotypical “darkness” of the Dark Continent.

But it turns out that something important from a classical music point of view has indeed happened and is still happening in Africa.

Take a look at the story about the Kinshasa Symphony Orchestra (below), now almost 20 years old, in the Democratic Republic of Congo in excerpts from a 2010 German-made documentary called “Kinshasa Symphony’ about the classical orchestra founded in Central Africa:

And here is a link to a review of the documentary, with the inevitable tie-in to Beethoven and his Ninth Symphony:

I sure hope the film comes to my area soon, perhaps in the upcoming Wisconsin Film Festival, or perhaps to the University of Wisconsin Madison campus.

I’ll let you know if I find out more news and features about classical music in Africa, and you please do the same for me.

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