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Daniel Barenboim, KBE (born 15 November 1942) is an Israeli Argentine-born pianist and conductor. He has served as music director of several major symphonic and operatic orchestras and made numerous recordings.
Currently, he is general music director of La Scala in Milan, the Berlin State Opera, and the Staatskapelle Berlin; he previously served as Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestre de Paris. Barenboim is also known for his work with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, a Seville-based orchestra of young Arab and Israeli musicians, and as a resolute critic of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.
Barenboim has received many awards and prizes, including an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, France's Légion d'honneur both as a Commander and Grand Officier, the German Großes Bundesverdienstkreuz and Willy Brandt Award, and, together with the Palestinian-American scholar Edward Said, Spain's Prince of Asturias Concord Award. He has won seven Grammy awards for his work and discography.
Daniel Barenboim was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to parents of Russian Jewish descent, Aida (née Schuster) and Enrique Barenboim. He started piano lessons at the age of five with his mother, continuing to study with his father, who remained his only teacher. On 19 August 1950, at the age of seven, he gave his first formal concert in his hometown, Buenos Aires.
In 1952, Barenboim moved to Israel with his family. Two years later, in the summer of 1954, his parents took him to Salzburg to take part in Igor Markevitch's conducting classes. During that summer he also met and played for Wilhelm Furtwängler, who has remained a central musical influence and ideal for Barenboim. Furtwängler called the young Barenboim a "phenomenon" and invited him to perform the Beethoven First Piano Concerto with the Berlin Philharmonic, but Barenboim's father considered it too soon after the Second World War for a child of Jewish parents to be performing in Berlin. In 1955 Barenboim studied harmony and composition with Nadia Boulanger in Paris.
On 15 June 1967, Barenboim and British cellist Jacqueline du Pré were married in Israel at a Western Wall ceremony, Du Pré having converted to Judaism. Acting as one of the witnesses was the conductor Zubin Mehta, a long-time friend of Barenboim. Since "I was not Jewish I had to temporarily be renamed Moshe Cohen, which made me a 'kosher witness'," Mehta recalled. Du Pré retired from music in 1973, after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). The marriage lasted until Du Pré's death in 1987.
In the early 1980s, Barenboim began a relationship with the Russian pianist Elena Bashkirova, with whom he has two sons born in Paris prior to du Pré's death: David Arthur, born 1983, and Michael, born 1985. Barenboim tried to keep his relationship with Bashkirova hidden from du Pré and believed he had succeeded. He and Bashkirova married in 1988. Their son David is a manager-writer for the German hip-hop band Level 8, and Michael is a classical violinist.
Barenboim holds citizenship of Argentina, Israel, Palestine, and Spain. He lives in Berlin. Fanart Banner