December 17, 2017
Saturday, August 2, 2014

Barenboim Festival: spring in August

Daniel Barenboim conducting the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.
Daniel Barenboim conducting the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.
Daniel Barenboim conducting the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.
By Jaime Botana
This historical event was devised to be held at a moment of hectic music activity

You may have heard Buenos Aires is housing an extraordinary music event: The Barenboim Festival.

While Festivals are generally held when there is no other music being played, this one was devised to be held in a moment of extreme activity in the field of music, thus providing uninterrupted continuity. And it will be only the first of a series of three, since two others have been programmed for 2015 and 2016. For starters.

This article was written in order to provide the complete concert schedule, and present the major stars who made it possible.

Major recognition is also due to the untiring efforts of the Colón’s Director, Juan Pedro García Caffi, and the support of the authorities of the City of Buenos Aires.

Daniel Barenboim (Buenos Aires November 15, 1942) was born on Arenales street — a real Porteño. Yet, some time after his birth, he is not only Argentine, but has been honoured wth Palestinian, Spanish and Israeli citizenship, and is a Knight of the British Empire. It is evident that he is bound to be a strong candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize.

He has developed an unparallelled career as pianist and orchestral conductor.

In 1999, under the motto of Equal in Music, Barenboim and his Palestinian friend Edward Said founded the West-Eastern Divan as a workshop for Israeli, Palestinian and other Arab musicians.

Author and analyst of world renown, Said was backed by a brilliant career as student and professor at the universities of Princeton, Harvard, Yale and Columbia, where he taught English Literature and began the famous Postcolonial Studies. A brilliant pianist, he was a distinguished critic and wrote three books on music. In 1978 he published Orientalism, his masterpiece and one of the most influential studies of the 20th Century.

They first worked in Weimar, a place where Goethe’s humanistic ideals of the Enlightenment somehow coexist with the terrible presence of the nearby Buchenwald. They devoted their efforts to replace ignorance with education, knowledge and understanding; to humanize the other; to imagine a better future. Young people who had only met through the prism of war shared their desire to create harmony, and thus found themselves living and working together as equals. As they listened to each other during rehearsals and discussions, they traversed deep political and ideological divides. Though this experiment in coexistence was intended as a one-time event, it quickly evolved into a legendary orchestra, which meets every summer in Seville.

In 2004, the Palestinian house of music changed its name to Edward Said National Music Conservatory.

Both Barenboim and Said were awarded the Premio Príncipe de Asturias de la Concordia in 2002.

Martha Argerich, born in Buenos Aires on June 5, 1941, has long been recognized as one of the world’s top pianists — and probably the greatest.

She visits us often, though her luck in Argentina has not always been good. Perón (yes, Perón) was among the first to spot her talents, and in 1954 provided a generous grant for her to study in Vienna with whom she considers her major influence: Friederich Gulda. She furthered her studies with Madeleine Lipatti, Nikita Magaloff and Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, all of whom recognized her amazing talent and eventually helped her launch her international career.

Alas, her last visit to her native city (September 2005) proved to be a major disaster when union trouble banned her entry to the Colón where she was to host Gustavo Dudamel and his marvellous Venezuelan musicians, today one of the leading youth orchestras in the world. She arranged for them to play at the Coliseo, but they were, of course, disappointed.

Their tour continued in Montevideo, and Argerich arranged for them to return and play at the Colón at the unseeming time of 3pm on a weekday. Argerich picked up the tab for the two-way ticket to Uruguay and expenses. She was also a victim of police malfeasance when she paid two bribes, on the way to and from Paraná, without losing her good humour.

We thought that after her unappreciated heroic deeds and the authorities’ insolence and lack of respect she would not return to Argentina, yet here she is, after nine years of being sorely missed, as wonderful as ever.

However, she has developed a sort of stage trauma: she no longer plays solo recitals, because she feels lonely , upset and uneasy alone on stage, and now devotes her talent to concerts with orchestra and chamber music in the company of her peers. A shame — but her recordings and public performances are unforgettable.

So... she repeats her legendary performance of Beethoven’s First Concerto with her dear friend Daniel Barenboim tomorrow.

It is highly improbable that you can still get a ticket, but I still recommend you stop reading this article and rush to the ticket office with your fingers crossed.

REMEMBER: Sunday August 3, 5pm

Beginning with a bang, the festival opens with Argerich playing Beethoven’s First, followed by Ravel’s Spanish pieces.

A must.


Complete concert schedule

Sunday August 3, 5 pm

Beethoven: First Piano Concerto Opus 15 in C major

Martha Argerich, piano.

Ravel: Rapsodia española / Alborada del gracioso / Pavana para una infanta difunta / Bolero

Martha Argerich, piano, West -Eastern Divan Orchestra.

Conductor: Daniel Barenboim.


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