Barenboim’s Anniversary on Stage! 

I was quite moved by this recording. I will try to express why I was moved:

There are two DVD’s. The first is a recording of Daniel Barenboim’s recital at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, commemorating Barenboim’s very first recital in his native city. The program consists of the Mozart C Major Sonata, K. 330, followed by Beethoven’s ‘Appassionata’ Sonata, Op. 57. Later we hear excerpts from both books of Albéniz’s ‘Iberia’–Evocación, El puerto, El Corpus de Sevilla, Rondeña, and Triana. Then follow many encores played for an adoring audience. I particularly liked the opening Mozart sonata. He played it with great precision and charm; and with the appropriate joyful moods in the movements where this was required. The slow movement was really sublime. 

For me, the great interest was in DVD #2, which was intended perhaps as a life story, but it became a lot more: We see in Barenboim a person of multiple identities: 

  • Human being, and a lover of Peace
  • Master Musician
  • Teacher, coach, helper
  • Argentinean; Israeli; Berliner
  • A person beyond just of the Jewish religion

Barenboim tells us that his personal life is always private; we do not even hear the names of his wife and two sons, but we do see some of them in the film. We also see brief highlights of his early years with the amazing British Cellist Jacqueline du Pre.

I loved his rehearsals: A scene in which he prepares Mozart’s Don Giovanni; a rehearsal with soprano Cecilia Bartoli and with a German singer preparing Mahler songs for performance. We see a man who loves life!!! A man who loves what he’s doing professionally! A man who is devoted to smoking big cigars, and to being with orchestra members at their home, preparing dinner, laughing, and enjoying others who during the day are players of his orchestras. And we hear some orchestra members talk about Barenboim in terms of his ability to bring out the immeasurable best in each player. 

Included are visits to the Berlin Staatsoper, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, and a visit to Israel (where he grew up after about age ten).  We get to know Barenboim’s Divan Orchestra, an organization that he founded consisting of Israeli, European and Arab musicians.

Toward the end you can see a record of the controversial concert with the Berlin Staatskapelle orchestra in Jerusalem where after Barenboim finished the regular concert, he asks the audience if they would be willing to hear some Wagner (Prelude and Liebestod). This provoked an outrage because the music of Wagner was piped in by the Nazis at concentration camps during World War II, and some sections of the Israeli population were outraged by the performance of Wagner at a public concert hall in Jerusalem.

An amazing man emerges: Daniel Barenboim is a man of humor; a man who loves people; a man who has a vision of more peaceful times for our planet; an astounding  performer as a pianist, conductor, and overall musician. A man for all seasons! A man I admire!

Here is a 2-minute highlight of Barenboim performing and sharing thoughts about his life in music…



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