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Daniel Barenboim on Music As a Bridge to Peace in the Middle East, Jan. 24

World-renowned musician Daniel Barenboim discusses music as a bridge for peace
in the Middle East at the first Edward Said Memorial Lecture on campus at Columbia University at Miller Theatre, at 8 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 24. The event, " Wagner, Israel and Palestine," is free and open to the public and sponsored by the Heyman Centre for the Humanities and Miller Theatre on behalf of Columbia University.

Barenboim, now music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, was a close friend and collaborator of Edward Said, the late Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, and one of this century's most influential intellectuals. Together, they founded the West Eastern Divan Workshop, an orchestra and school that brings together Israeli, Palestinian and other Arab musicians to play music and to help bring understanding and peace in an area of conflict. Barenboim is expected to discuss his partnership with Said and the two men's shared passion for freedom of expression and tolerance.

"Like Said, Barenboim's humanity stretches far beyond his chosen field of accomplishment and Columbia feels greatly privileged to have him here at the Miller Theatre," said Akeel Bilgrami, Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Heyman Centre for the Humanities at Columbia University. "The subject he will speak on reflects their mutual ambition to see music and culture as being 'worldly' pursuits in the best sense of that word -- situated in and speaking to the large public issues of our time."

Barenboim has stated, "Music…is an art that touches the depth of human existence, an art of sounds that crosses all borders. As such, music can take the feelings and imagination of Israelis and Palestinians to new, unimaginable spheres."

Barenboim was born in 1942 in Buenos Aires to parents of Russian Jewish descent and moved to Israel in 1952. He made his concert debut as a pianist in Vienna and Rome in 1952. From then on, he made annual concert tours of the United States and Europe and became known as one of the most versatile pianists and conductors of his generation. He became General Music Director of the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin in 1992 and has served Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 1991. In the autumn of 2000, the Staatskapelle Berlin appointed him Chief Conductor for Life. He also appears regularly with the Berlin Philharmonic and Vienna Philharmonic orchestras. He has been associated with the Bayreuth Festival since 1981, leading performances of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, Parsifal and the complete Ring cycle. In February 2003, Barenboim won a Grammy for his recording of Wagner's Tannh ä user and in March 2003, he and the Staatskapelle Berlin received the Wilhelm Furtw ä ngler Prize.

In October 2002, Barenboim and Said jointly received Spain's prestigious Prince of Asturias Concord Prize for their work in bringing Palestinians and Israelis together through music. Barenboim was also awarded the Tolerance Prize by the Protestant Academy of Tutzing, in southwestern Germany in November 2002 for his efforts in founding the West Eastern Divan Workshop. The same month, the president of Germany awarded him the Grosses Bundesverdienstkreuz, the highest honor given to someone who is not a head of state. In 2004, Barenboim received the Buber-Rosenzweig Medal, the Wolf Prize for the Arts in Jerusalem and the Haviva Reik Peace Award.

Barenboim is the author of the newly expanded A Life in Music, and co-author of Parallels and Paradoxes: Explorations in Music and Society, a series of conversations between Barenboim and Said.

This event is free and open to the public. For tickets, contact the Miller Theatre Box Office at (212) 854-7799. Miller Theatre is located north of the Main Campus Gate at 116 St. and Broadway on the ground floor of Dodge Hall. For further information and press tickets, and to arrange interviews, contact Camille Cooke at (212) 854-2382 or cc2445@columbia.edu.

Published: Jan 20, 2005
Last modified: Jan 21, 2005

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