Wednesday, September 30, 2009


The 67-year-old Israeli pianist and orchestral conductor Daniel Barenboïm has always appeared to me as a brilliant star of hope in our troubled heavens: the kind of fellow who makes me feel that there might be rare reasons to love my humankind.

The former child prodigy has taken up the piano once again, playing the Chopin concertos at the Salle Pleyel with the Orchestre de Paris. His personal masterpiece remains the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, founded in 1999 with a Palestinian academic, Edward Saïd, and composed of young Israeli, Arab and Iranian musicians.

The word "prodigy" comes from a medieval Latin term meaning omen. In the minds of his admirers, Barenboïm remains no doubt an omen of future peace in the Middle East. But I fear that countless discordant sounds will have to flow under the many bridges of hateful dissent before we hear any kind of harmonious finale.

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