A British star in the West-Eastern Divan

A British star in the West-Eastern Divan


norman lebrecht

October 30, 2017

A poignant moment for the Czech-born composer, Alexander Goldscheider. Read through to the end for the triple-whammy:


Today brought me so much joy and happiness that it is hard to contain it in words.

Our grandson Ben Goldscheider played in a very special charity concert with the unique West-Eastern Divan Orchestra conducted by Daniel Barenboim to commemorate Jacqueline du Pré (Barenboim’s music partner and wife) and to raise money to STOP MS (Multiple Sclerosis).

Three key moments combined for me, one of which I never witnessed in my entire life. Ben played, and gorgeously so, a wonderful long horn solo in the Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony, and Daniel Barenboim, having singled out Ben in a standing ovation that followed, turned after a while to the Royal Festival Hall, silenced it completely, pointed to Ben and proudly announced: “He is British!”

To all the patriotic remark was in relation to the fact, that the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra is a brilliant youth orchestra consisting primarily of musicians from the Middle East, Israelis, Palestinians and Arabs, and Ben, albeit with Central European Jewish background, is not a typical member.

To me, who came to the UK as a political refugee in 1981, it means so much more: when you are 31 and leave everything behind, you think of the future for your children and their children more than of your own. Becoming British ten years later is a huge privilege, but again it is your children and their children who are truly British. And when one the world’s best ever musicians, a true genius, shows your grandson to thousands in a phenomenal concert and shouts “He is British,” it is a circle that is so wonderfully, unbelievably completed!!!

The whole concert was poignant to me as I have lived with MS for 22 years myself, so far very merciful, but to see my grandson playing a part in a fight against it was unforgettable.


  • Ungeheuer says:


  • Sandra shapiro says:


  • Tony Catterick says:

    As a retired professional horn player, Horn Historian and an Honorary Member of The British Horn Society and friend of Ben, (we were brought up in the same village in Hertfordshire, but decades apart,) I would like to say that he is one of the most exciting masters of the horn since Dennis Brain and I have followed his career with great interest. His skill is astonishing and musicianship is so mature and heartfelt from a young man aged 19. He is now studying in Berlin with Radek Baborak, late Principal Horn of the Berlin Phil and whatever ingredients you need to succeed as a world class soloist, Ben has it in massive amounts. He is seriously going places, with great charm, modesty and a passion for the horn and music. Do Google him and read all about what he has achieved over the last two years especially. The world is there waiting for him. Go for it Ben!