Like an expansion bridge touches points on opposing shores and unites them, Daniel Barenboim’s musical talent spans continents and cultures, bringing diverse people together through his love of classical music. He believes, “people who listen to each other, both musically and in all other ways, can achieve greater things”.
Born in Buenos Aires to Jewish Russian immigrants, Barenboim started piano lessons when he was three and gave his first concert performance at the age of seven. In 1952 his family moved from Argentina to Israel. Recognizing young Daniel’s considerable talent, his family took him to Austria to study conducting two years later.
While in Europe he met and played for Wilhelm Furtwängler, one of Europe’s most prominent symphonic directors. Furtwängler called young Barenboim a “phenomenon” and invited him to play with the Berlin Philharmonic; however, his father declined the invitation saying it was too soon after the Holocaust for a child of Jewish parents to perform in Berlin. Nevertheless, the high praise from Furtwänger paved the way for the young musician’s success.
In 1952, after making his début in Vienna, Barenboim toured frequently in Europe, the US, South America, Australia, and the Far East.
Daniel Barenboim made his début as a conductor in 1967. He also married British cellist, Jacqueline du Pré, that same year. They performed frequently together until her death from multiple sclerosis in 1987.
Beginning in 1991, Barenboim led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for fifteen years. At the conclusion of his tenure, the CSO musicians adopted a resolution naming him their "honorary conductor for life". He received a similar honor in 2000 when the Staatskapelle Berlin appointed him “Chief Conductor for Life”.
In the early 1990s, a chance meeting between Barenboim and Palestinian-born writer Edward Said led to a friendship which had dramatic political and musical repercussions. To their surprise, the men discovered they had a common vision for Israeli-Palestinian cooperation. Their decision to collaborate on musical events led to Mr. Barenboim's groundbreaking 1999 concert in Palestine and to the West-Eastern Divan workshop later that year. Through the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra Barenboim continues to bring together talented young musicians from Israel, Palestine, and other Arab countries to perform on neutral ground under the tutelage of some of the world's best musicians.
Daniel Barenboim lives in Berlin and is a true citizen of the world, holding passports in Argentina, Israel, and Spain, in addition to one issued by the Palestinian Authority.