An internationally known pianist and conductor, Daniel Barenboim has toured with the Chicago Symphony and was the music director of the Orchestre de Paris for more than 14 years. His repertoire includes Beethoven, Mozart and Anton Bruckner symphonies.
Born in Argentina, Barenboim's musical career began at the age of five, when his parents gave him piano lessons. His parents were his only teachers, but a great influence in his life was the pianist Artur Rubenstein, whom he met through his parents, and for whom he played once a year.
Barenboim performed his first concert in Buenos Aires at the age of seven. His musical genius was developed even more when he attended Igor Markevich's conducting classes in Germany and studied harmony and composition in Paris with Nadia Boulanger. He made his debut in Vienna in 1952 at the age of nine. From there he debuted in Paris, London and in New York with Leopold Stokowski. He made his first recording in 1954.
Barenboim spent the '60s touring with various orchestras as a pianist and conductor. He has played with such classical greats as Isaac Stern, Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zuckerman. In 1966 he had the privilege of playing Brahms with English cellist Jacqueline DuPre. One year later they were married, but unfortunately their union was cut short, as DuPre developed multiple sclerosis and died in October 1987.
During the '60s, Barenboim recorded many albums, including the Beethoven piano concertos with Klemperer, the Brahms concertos with Barbirolli, and the Mozart concertos with the English Chamber Orchestra. His relationship with the English Chamber Orchestra lasted more than a decade and he toured with them to England, the United States and Japan.
Although successful as a soloist, Barenboim also wanted to explore a conducting career. He made his conducting debut in London in 1967 with the New Philharmonic Orchestra. From 1968 to 1970, Barenboim was the artistic director of South Bank Music in London and was director of the Israel Festival in 1973. In 1975, he became music director of the Orchestre de Paris. Emphasis was placed on contemporary works such as Lutoslawski, Berio, Boulez, Henze and Dutilleux. He founded a chorus and created a Mozart Festival in 1982. The Mozart Festival included The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni and Cosi fan tutte. One of his last accomplishments with the orchestra was a new production of The Magic Flute in 1987. He left the music director position in 1989.
In 1991 Barenboim took the reigns of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as conductor, soloist and recitalist. Then, in 1992 he was appointed artistic director and general music director of the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin.
Apart from his positions at Chicago and Berlin, Barenboim still finds time to record. He has made several recordings with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra including Sibelius and Nielsen, violin concertos with Maxium Vengerov, African Portraits by Hanibal, Wagner's Overtures and Preludes, and Tchaikovsky's "Symphony No. 5" and "1812 Overture." With the Berlin Philharmonic he has released Beethoven's "Choral Fantasy" and "Tripe Concerto," done also with Itzhak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma, and Bruckner's "Symphony No. 4."
Barenboim's personal accomplishments as a conductor and a pianist are overwhelming. He has released solo piano performances of Franz Schubert, and in 1996 released a collection of tangos, Tangos Among Friends, with Rodolfo Mederos and Hector Console. All of his accomplishments and passions about music are recounted in his book, A Life in Music, published in both Europe and America. The album Tribute to Ellington followed in 1999.
As a conductor, soloist, pianist or author, Daniel Barenboim puts himself into his works always demanding perfection. His countless accomplishments have made him an international figure in the world of classical music. ~ Kim Summers