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Daniel Barenboim

Daniel Barenboim is a conductor and pianist of top international stature, known for an extraordinarily large orchestral and operatic repertoire. He is the general music director and chief conductor for life of the Staatsoper Berlin in Germany. Barenboim was born in Buenos Aires on November 15, 1942, into a family of Ukrainian Jewish descent. His mother was his first piano teacher. He later studied with his father, Enrique Barenboim, who was an eminent music professor. After playing for the noted violinist Adolf Busch, who was impressed by his talent, Daniel made his debut recital at the age of seven. In 1951, he played at the Mozarteum in Salzburg and observed Igor Markevitch's conducting class. The family moved to Israel in 1952; two years later, Barenboim went back to Salzburg for a conducting course with Markevitch, piano studies with Edwin Fischer, and chamber music performance with Enrico Mainardi. He studied conducting with Carlo Zecchi at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, also attending Nadia Boulanger's music theory and composition class at Fontainebleau. His U.S. debut was at New York's Carnegie Hall on January 20, 1957, in Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 1, with Leopold Stokowski conducting the Symphony of the Air. Debuts with leading orchestras included the London Symphony Orchestra (New York, 1968), Berlin Philharmonic (1969), and New York Philharmonic (1970). In 1967, Barenboim married the brilliant cellist Jacqueline Du Pré, with whom he made several exceptional recital recordings. Unfortunately, this partnership ended when Du Pré contracted multiple sclerosis, which forced her to end her playing career in 1972. She died in 1987. Barenboim began a long association with the Deutsche Grammophon label in 1972, and the following year, issued a recording of Bruckner's Symphony No. 4 in E flat major ("Romantic") with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He has maintained long relationships with both that orchestra and with Bruckner's music. In 1982, Barenboim issued an album of music by Ravel with the Orchestre de Paris. He has guest conducted virtually all of the world's leading orchestras. In 1989, he was named Sir Georg Solti's successor as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Barenboim became music director of the Staatsoper Berlin in 1992, then was named chief conductor for life by its orchestra in 2002. In 1999, along with Palestinian-American scholar Edward Said, Barenboim co-founded the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, a summer youth orchestra designed to foster understanding and cooperation, and he established the Barenboim-Said Academy in Berlin. Devoted to the training of young Arab and Israeli musicians, the school opened in 2016. A recording of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 by the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra appeared in 2013, and the group has spawned several young musicians with international careers, sometimes performing and recording with Barenboim. Barenboim has a rich recorded repertoire as a conductor, pianist, accompanist, and chamber music player. Interestingly, as a pianist he tends to focus on Mozart, Beethoven, and the early Romantics, while as a conductor he favors later Romantic music, particularly Brahms and Bruckner (he has won a medal from the Bruckner Society of America). Barenboim's recorded output continued to be abundant through his ninth decade, including not only standard repertory but such novelties as On My New Piano (2016), an album devoted to the capabilities of an instrument custom-made for Barenboim by builder Chris Maene and based on a piano owned by Liszt. As a conductor, he continued to undertake lengthy, difficult scores by the likes of Bruckner and Mahler. His 2017 recording of Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius with the Staatskapelle Berlin was critically acclaimed. He has often issued more than a dozen recordings in the course of a single year, and by 2022, his recorded output included well over 500 releases. Early that year, he already had three albums on the docket for release: an album of Mozart and Strauss oboe concertos with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra and oboist Cristina Gómez Godoy, an album of piano encores, and the annual Vienna Philharmonic New Year's Concert, which he has conducted multiple times. However, in early 2023, Barenboim stepped down from the Staatsoper, as his health prevented him from carrying out his duties to their fullest.
© Joseph Stevenson & James Manheim /TiVo


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