The West-Eastern Divan, an “unusual” orchestra formed by Jews, Palestinians and Arabs, will be 20 years old in 2019. It has reached “an unexpected level” and is “a legend” in the world but has not succeeded, regrets in an interview with EFE its founder, Daniel Barenboim, be recognized in the region.
The director and pianist, born in Buenos Aires in 1942 in a Jewish family of Russian origin and with Argentine, Spanish and Israeli nationality, founded the orchestra with the Palestinian philosopher Edward Said in 1999 and, after passing through Weimar (Germany) and Chicago (USA), was definitely installed, thanks to the financial support of the Junta de Andalucía, in the Seville town of Pilas.
His “settlement” in Andalusia was in 2002, an event “very important” in the evolution of the formation but with the passing of the years “it has not been necessary” to keep that place even though the headquarters of the foundation are still there: “the orchestra has another life, “he says.
“When we started in 1999, 60% of the musicians had never played in an orchestra and they had not even heard one live in. In just 8 years they were able to interpret the Schoenberg Variations in Salzburg and Pierre Boulez – one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century- he told me that he had never heard anything like that “, he presumes.
The orchestra, with which he undertook the project to record the entire cycle of Beethoven’s symphonies, has reached “an unexpected level” and is, he emphasizes, “a legend in the world, but not in the region -Israel and Palestine- because they do not talk to each other. “
“We have many fans and detractors, yes,” admits the musician, who has always argued that the problem of the Middle East is not philanthropy or its solution “military” or “political” but “human”.
Barenboim, who has just presented with a tour in Spain – Oviedo, Madrid and Barcelona – his latest album, “Claude Debussy”, is now focused on a project of music education in schools and has promoted the opening of “a kindergarten” in Berlin so that the children begin to familiarize themselves with her from an early age.
“It’s extraordinary how well it works, but, of course, they leave the garden with 6 years and then there is no continuity, that’s why we have reached an agreement to include a more defined musical program in the first grade. the artist, who “sees no reason” despite his long residence in Germany to also acquire that nationality: “I’m not German but I’m from Berlin”.
He is sure that only that education will mean the survival of classical music among the public in 50 years, although he now has “enough” to say about how spectators behave in concerts, which already, on several occasions, has disfigured his “contrarecital” of coughs, mobiles or candy wrappers.
“I remember very well a recital by the great Andrés Segovia, requetelleno, with 200 or more people on stage, there were four sonatas by Father Soler and we could hardly hear the loud coughs.” Segovia stood up and looked at the audience. a handkerchief, put it in his mouth, coughed and showed how it was done, it had an extraordinary effect, “he recalled.
He himself has already done so several times, the last on the 11th at the Palau de la Música in Barcelona, when after an interlude of “Les Preludes” he took a handkerchief out of his pocket and stared at the spectators while he I had to mouth.
“I have the feeling that the ear is very disadvantaged with respect to the eye, hearing is very important, when you think there is ‘music’ in elevators, in restaurants, in airplanes … I mean, you’re used to hear the music, not listen to it. “
In a concert hall, he says, “not only will music be heard: the pleasure that can be derived from a concert is much more than what is heard” and that is why it encourages an “absolute concentration” on what happens on the stage.
He does not believe that the big tours with orchestras like the one he’s been directing for 25 years, the Staatsoper unter den Linden, never finish because they are “very positive for music.” What is needed, he demands again, is education and training in the schools”.