Barenboim speaks out on Brexit

Barenboim speaks out on Brexit


norman lebrecht

June 29, 2016

From the conductor’s blogpost:

The vote in favor of Brexit is, in my view, a very sad decision for Great Britain and Europe. It is, however, senseless to bathe in pessimism and desperation as Brexit is now an unchangeable historical fact…

Nationalism is the opposite of true patriotism, and the further fostering of nationalist sentiment would be the worst case-scenario for us all. Instead, we need a unifying, European patriotism.

Neither of these conclusions seems altogether realistic or achievable.

Read the full post here.

Daniel Barenboim


  • Olassus says:

    Does this artist have to mouth off about everything?

    And what would an Argentine-born Israeli citizen living in Seville know about patriotism?

    • Will Duffay says:

      I would have thought that an Argentine-born Israeli citizen living in Seville is precisely the sort of person to know a lot about patriotism: it’s a meaningless sham. And a dangerous one. Enjoy the community of your tribe, but don’t kid yourself that you’re special. As a nation, we Brits still think of ourselves as the chosen ones, capable of ruling the world as we did in the 19th century. My fellow subjects: the world has moved on, but we haven’t.

      • Maria Brewin says:

        “As a nation, we Brits still think of ourselves as the chosen ones, capable of ruling the world as we did in the 19th century.”

        You think? You haven’t really been listening, have you? In actual fact we’ll be quite content to rule ourselves, just like Australia, New Zealand etc. Nothing particularly “special” about that at all.

        Lastly, I doubt if the opinions of a wealthy, jet setting conductor will resonate much with the poorer people of England and Wales (and the 38% in Scotland) who voted to leave.

        • Will Duffay says:

          We do rule ourselves already. Brexit lies about the % of laws imposed by the EU doesn’t change that. But part of the leave appeal was about making Britain ‘great’ again. Weren’t you listening? It was a bunch of moth-eaten tales about how we were once wonderful and how we should be again.

          It doesn’t matter whether his opinions resonate with poorer people. I’m just defending his right to say them. As it is, wealthy Tory politicians sold the poor a bunch of lies to get them to vote to leave. A vote which isn’t in their interests at all. Did you hear the one about the EU saying that free movement of labour is non-negotiable if we want to remain in the single market. Remainers knew that but Leaves kept quiet about it. Immigration is here to stay.

    • Robert King says:

      Crumbs! Is he not allowed an opinion? (Everyone else seems to have one). He starts his piece saying ”in my view”: it’s his personal opinion, on his own website. That said, he actively has tried to bring together people whose countries held distinctly opposite views: is that not something we should celebrate?

      And is there an inherent problem with having roots from more than one country? If so, that’s an awful lot of the British population (including not a few who voted “out”) who are not allowed to voice an opinion.

      And does being “an artist” mean you can’t express an opinion? Does that also mean that if you are a plumber, a doctor, a car worker, or unemployed, are you not allowed an opinion either?

    • Alexander Hall says:

      Daniel Barenboim is a very rare thing, a decent human being and a man with a truly international and non-sectarian outlook. If we had many more like him and fewer bigots and rabble-rousing careerists, the world would be a more peaceful and happier place.

      • MDS says:

        If he were such a decent humna being, he wouldn’t have cheated on his first wife.

        • MDS says:

          “Human,” of course, not “humna.”

        • Nick says:

          What an incrediby pathetic comment! Barenboim’s affair in Paris was not planned. As it developed, he was paying for 24 hour care for his wife in London and did everything to ensure it remained a secret from her. When he could not be in London, his mother Aida would drop everything to spend time with du Pre.

          We should not forget that she did sleep with the husband of her sister. Was he aware of that?

          • harold braun says:

            I adore Mr.Barenboim.
            ..but he was a notorious skirt chaser!

          • Petros Linardos says:

            One cannot assess any particular case without knowing many facts that are none of their business.

          • Dave T says:

            Come on, MDS, what’s the big deal. Afterall [it’s better if you read the rest of this sentence slowly], he was Trying to Keep it a Secret.
            Besides, she was practically dead by then. JDP wasn’t going to be sore about it, at least not for long.
            Relax. He’s no scumbag.

        • Bruce says:

          Right, because decent people never ever do anything wrong. Never ever.

          • Bruce says:

            ^ and, if they do, the opinions they express on everything else should be dismissed for the rest of their lives (and beyond).

      • Sue says:

        Pity about his piano-playing, though!! That’s gone to hell in a handbag.

    • Sandora says:

      Dear Olassus, Just as you, writing your comment in here he felt the need to express his views. As an internationally known artist he is as he should be: a thinker. Even if someone does not know a lot about patriotism knowing history can see what patriotism has done to the world in the past.

    • tati says:

      so agree! the problem is -when he speaks , some people unfortunately listen…and also, what is wrong with nationalism?

  • Kelvin Grout says:

    Unchangable historical fact? Brexit has to be passed, approved and voted on by Parliament! It was an advisory referendum.

  • will says:

    If the referendum was ‘only advisory’ and not legally binding why is this shambolic government intending to implement Brexit?

    • Ppellay says:

      Three words: Tory Power Grab. And look how brilliantly that’s working out for them already! This was never anything to do with Europe or any kind of “independence”. As far as Brexit ever happening is concerned, I’ll believe it when I see it. First, the vote would have to be ratified in Parliament, where Euro-sceptics MPs are in a distinct minority, and then Article 50 would have to be activated in order to start the whole process. And right now I don’t see any of them falling over themselves to do either. The truth is, the people were lied to in order for them to vote on something that is not actually up to them to change. And now this country is divided straight down the middle, all through the actions of a bunch of oiks in suits whom I wouldn’t trust to run a garden shed, never mind a country!

  • Erwin says:

    I don’t think a “Nationalist sentiment” is always something negative and suspicious, as long as one respects other countries and as long as one doesn’t feel superior.
    Europe’s strength is its diversity — every country has its unique history, culture, language, mentality, traditions etc. We *need* sovereign states with their own identity, there is no such thing as “European patriotism”. That’s why I think that a *political, supranational* EU that tries to model Europe after the United States of America is an illusion. Trading agreements are fine and necessary, but a European currency, a Central Bank, European Law & Legislations, European common policies, a European anthem & flag, etc. etc.? It’s all build on sand…

  • Anon says:

    From my view, most who voted to “Leave” did so in the belief that European nations can and should trade and work together; and are quite able to do so happily and harmoniously without the need for a “unifying European patriotism”. There’s really no need for an anthem or a flag; far less a bloated bureaucracy, in order for nation states to work together.

  • Leo says:

    His statement doesn’t make sense. Brexit had nothing to do with promoting nationalist sentiment. In fact the opposite. How can you be patriotic to a continent? The UK has decided to give up it’s membership of the EU. That’s all.

    • Will Duffay says:

      Nonsense. It was all about Churchill, Spitfires, Empire, ‘Great’ Britain. Farage shamelessly used all those to appeal to people’s emotions. Aim for the hearts; bypass the heads.

      • Sue says:

        I would have thought “appeals to emotion” was a particular speciality of the Left.

        • M2N2K says:

          Think again — extreme left and extreme right have a lot in COMMON, e.g. they appeal to lowest (emotional) COMMON denominator while ignoring (intelligent) COMMON sense.

  • Dave says:

    If you read any comments on the internet about leaving or staying, you can tell immediately who benefits. The upper class, wealthy, well educated benefit immensely from being part of the EU. The lower classes see little benefit at all. Can you blame them for wanting to leave. The Tory government took a calculated risk and they lost. Not only did they lose the vote, they have other countries considering a vote to leave as well. Perhaps history will consider David Cameron in the same light as Tony Blair.

  • Bennie says:

    Last time I check, nothing good comes out of utmost patriotism in world history.

    May be I am reading a different history book than Maestro Barenboim is reading.

  • Tnuc says:

    Silly old man. The reason why Western Europe was so successful was the loyalty among the people in each nation, not limited to the clan, the family or the village. The result of the latter can be see in the whole of the Middle East (excluding, of course Israel). And no, this can not be replaced with “unifying European patriotism” (bullshit bingo!)

    Now, with the influx of millions of people from primitive clan cultures in Middle East/North Africa, this is now fading. Which Barenboim of course doesn’t know anything about, because this can not be seen in his rich neighbourhood, or in airport lounges where he chats in poor euro-english with all his other privileged friends around the globe about the scumbags in Blackpool who voted no.

    The rebirth of the national state and the death of the trans-national EU is in the process. I’m so happy about this.

  • Mark Mortimer says:

    Tremendous admiration for Daniel Barenboim both as a man and musician.

    As usual what he says makes a lot of sense.

  • Daniel Andrews says:

    Whatever the results of the referendum, Barenboim needs to keep his oar out and stop talking drivel. Just why does a musician who doesn’t even live in the UK feel he has any right to advise anyone apart from on music? You might just as well ask the postman or the window cleaner.

    • Sandora says:

      You should talk with much more respect about a man who has achieved so much and about musicians. You also felt the need of posting your poor comment in here. And yes, there is a differences in weigh between the opinion of a real intellectual and a plumber.

  • Tom says:

    The link doesn’t work.