A colleague reports from Barenboim’s concerts in Sydney:
Coinciding with the release of the four Brahms Symphonies on DG the Staatskapelle Berlin under Barenboim have been performing at Sydney Opera House this week. We heard the four Symphonies in chronological order and the final concert was Schubert Unfinished and the Eroica. The three performances celebrated the 45th anniversary of the opening of the Sydney Opera House.
At the conclusion of the second concert Barenboim had a microphone. As close as I remember, this is what he said.
“I thought that I should say something before this concert, but I didn’t. Then I thought I should say something after the concert that maybe I shouldn’t. But I am going to anyway. The orchestra and I would like to dedicate this concert to the memory of the first native inhabitants of this continent. [strong applause] … Perhaps all of this is too late. I was last in Australia sixty years ago and nobody spoke about this then. But now I am happy to say that everywhere people here and politicians are acknowledging the First Peoples [again, he may have said ’native Australians’]. Perhaps it is all too late but better late than never. Any country in the world needs to account for its past before being able to be accepted into a society of nations.” [loud cheering from the hall]
And now, the video: