Barenboim ‘is cleared of assaulting a staff member’

Barenboim ‘is cleared of assaulting a staff member’


norman lebrecht

September 03, 2019

VAN magazine has an extensive report of allegations by Laura Eisen, former orchestra manager of the Staatskapelle Berlin, that she was screamed at and physically shaken by the music director, Daniel Barenboim.

“He screamed at me that I should leave the room and that he can’t trust me anymore,” she wrote. “As I was going to respond to him, he came toward me, grabbed me with both hands on my upper body (between my shoulders and throat) and shook me. As he did so, he screamed at me that I should disappear/leave the room. I was shocked and took two steps back toward the door and left. My last memory of the encounter was the expression on Mr. Barenboim’s face. In the moment I shrunk back, he seemed shocked by his own actions.”

Ms Eisen ceased working for the Staatskapelle in July. Barenboim’s contract had been renewed a month earlier.

A legal investigation commissioned by the Staatsoper found, according to Ms Eisen, that ‘The accusations of the abuse of power by Mr. Barenboim were not supported by legally relevant accusations.’

Laura tells VAN: ‘So it happened: OK. But what happened after was completely not OK.’

Read the full, gruelling report here.

UPDATE: Barenboim denies assault



  • PHF says:

    Without a witness, vídeo footage ir physical evidence there’s nothing one may legally do about It.

    • Gustavo says:

      It is all the more important to expose and condemn Barenboim’s misbehaviour.

      His violence is really far worse than Domingo’s wet kisses, bear hugs, etc.

      Who does the West-Eastern peace preacher think he is? A male diva?

    • Cassandra says:

      Right you are PHF,

      Still Barenboim seems to have got off the hook really easy here. Did he even notice an apology would not have gone amiss?

      With Eisen’s union and that Bühnenverein being served such a neat case:
      possible physical assault well defined in time and space, certainly no anonymity and no sex to blur the picture.
      Did they do their best to rock the boat, make some waves?

  • Enquiring Mind says:

    Boss tells you to leave the room, leave. Because if you don’t you get pushed out. Whats wrong with that?

    • Gustavo says:

      This is how it may be done in hire-and-fire-pussy-grabber-land.

      But violence is never a solution – Barenboim should have known that.

    • MWnyc says:

      In this case, Boss grabbed and started shaking her before even saying leave. And unless that someone has just assaulted you, grabbing and shaking someone is assault, and that is not OK.

      (I’m mildly mystified that that needs to be explained.)

      • Enquiring Mind says:

        Your events contradict her account. Here is what you missed. What I said was not justifying what Barenboim did. What I am saying is if someone, in anger, says, you shouldn’t be here, then step outside. If you don’t YOU are forcing a confrontation by not respecting their request. Get it? So, yes, he did something wrong but the woman is not taking responsibility for her provocation. She needs to be fired because she is inept is her social skills.

        • Anonymous says:

          Well said. Honestly, you never hear ‘Feminist facing criticism for tantrum’. That honor often goes to those in positions of authority, oddly…

        • Bruce says:

          From the VAN article:

          “According to a statement Eisen wrote in June 2019 and endorsed in August as a sworn declaration, Barenboim was already angry with her when she came in. “He screamed at me that I should leave the room and that he can’t trust me anymore,” she wrote. “As I was going to respond to him, he came toward me, grabbed me with both hands on my upper body (between my shoulders and throat) and shook me. As he did so, he screamed at me that I should disappear/leave the room. I was shocked and took two steps back toward the door and left.”

          Is that (preparing to respond rather than fleeing wordlessly) provocation? You claim you are not justifying what Barenboim did, but by saying that what he did was her fault for not leaving the room quickly enough, you are indeed trying to justify his behavior.

          If by “provocation” you mean whatever she did in her job to make him angry, well… assaulting an employee whose work dissatisfies you is no longer considered an acceptable way of expressing frustration.

          • Enquiring Mind says:

            “He screamed at me that I should leave the room…”. But she stood her ground which provoked an angry man to push her out. It is even her story which is likely BS and the reason her claim was negated.

          • Bruce says:

            OK, so totally her fault that he assaulted her then. Now I understand.

          • Enquiring Mind says:

            Very good grasshopper. Now you see gray and not just black and white.

          • Saxon Broken says:

            Enquiring Mind:

            You obviously have no idea about what constitutes assault, and what is an allowable defense. Saying: “she didn’t leave quick enough, so I hit her” really will not save you from a criminal charge.
            I will explain it so that you understand: he could not be prosecuted because there were no witnesses.

      • Karl says:

        Just because she said it happened doesn’t mean it really happened. People lie all the time.

  • Anon says:

    Nearly the same thing happened to me with him, exactly as she described but without the physical contact. No one may ever believe us, but for those closest to him, we all know the hidden truth.

  • Karl says:

    We may all have to start wearing body cameras.

    • Brian says:

      These episodes are making the case for more CCTV cameras in backstage areas of concert halls. Just the knowledge of their existence might prompt the likes of Barenboim, Dutoit, Gatti, Domingo and Levine to think about their actions in the future.

      • Karl says:

        There are security cameras in several areas of my workplace. As much as it creeps me out I know it’s best, because there is a women there who is a known false accuser. If she is in an area with no security camera I have to avoid it until she leaves. But I doubt people are going to allow security cameras in dressing rooms.

  • klavierBWV988 says:

    Ugly man

  • Dennis says:

    another stale 20 year old SJW #me too load of bs. is it not tired by now?

  • miles away says:

    Hey Barenboim is a pianist!
    What you expect baby? A quiet life?

    Get over it, lots of Daniel’s relatives and friends were gassed.
    Age of the the zombie smart-phone social media crap.

    20yrs ago wouldn’t even have been noticed.

  • Tiredofitall says:

    Cleared or absolved by divine right?

  • Esther Cavett says:

    It’s all unfortunate, but look at Ms Eisen’s CV here. She’s had great experience, speaks lots of languages and will doubtless bounce back from the awful treatment she had from that rude little man.

  • V.Lind says:

    “The fact that different moral rules apply to geniuses and stars is at the root of many problems in classical music.”

    Well, well. Anybody denying that? But the determination to treat a workplace harassment complaint solely in terms of “legal criminality” — which was never alleged — gives a clue as to how LA might wriggle out of the Domingo investigation.

  • Philippa Ballard says:

    Matthias Schulz wasn’t much of a mediator. He could and should have done far more to help. It’s a nasty story

    • Alviano says:

      Matthias Schulz’s job is to give Danny-boy what he wants and everything else, including the Staatsoper, be damned. Flimm did the same.

  • Gabriel says:

    Can’t stand the heat, get out of the opera house. Do “geniuses and stars” deserve preferential treatment? Of course they do. Equality is the first refuge of the Philistine.

    • MWnyc says:

      Are you seriously saying that geniuses and stars have the right to physically attack someone?

      • Gabriel says:

        Depending on the severity. Also, I wouldn’t say “right”, no. They do deserve more leeway and forgiveness for their transgressions, however. Barenboim shouldn’t have touched her. And yet, he should be forgiven, given his talent and stature.

      • Karl says:

        They have the right to presumption of innocence. Unfortunately ordinary men are losing that right.

  • Alviano says:

    If it were a wet kiss and a pat on the a–, he’d be tarred and feathered, but attempted strangulation gets his contract renewed. Where I come from Barenboim’s actions qualify as assault and he could be arrested.
    There is a stink, a gold-plated stink but still a stink, coming from the Staatsoper, and like the fish it comes from the head down.

    • Karl says:

      “attempted strangulation”?? That’s a hoot! How did you get that out of the story? But unfortunately that’s how memories get distorted. Several years from now Ms Eisen may remember this incident as a strangulation or even a rape attempt.

  • Judy says:

    This is so sad and the report even more grueling. He should not have that job anymore. How does any company let this behavior slide??

    • Karl says:

      Because it’s alleged behavior. And if he yells too much people should just get other jobs and leave. That’s what happened at a workplace I had years ago. About a year after I left I noticed the place was saying it was under new management – the yeller was gone. I had another yeller back in the 2000s but she mainly only yelled at me. When I looked her straight in the eye and said firmly ‘stop yelling at me’ she stopped.

    • Mick the Knife says:

      Because he is a world renowned conductor that is not easily replaced and she is a dim witted manager that, luckily left the organization. Problem solved.

  • Jim C. says:

    This just in … famous orchestra conductor goes on tirade against staff!


  • Cassandra says:

    One plucky co-worker.
    One pampered maestro.
    Berliner Staatsoper chose the latter.
    Is there really such a shortage of competente conductors around?

  • Jeremy Atkin says:

    ==accusations of the abuse of power by Mr. Barenboim were not supported by legally relevant accusations

    In plain English, what does this mean ? Is it that there were no witnesses ?

    • sam says:

      Exactly, you got it whereas the other commenters missed the point, management isn’t saying there was no evidence/witness, it’s saying, even if true, his actions are not actionable, ie, it is perfectly legal to physically manhandle (so to speak) someone in Germany.

      • Esther Cavett says:

        ==Where I come from Barenboim’s actions qualify as assault

        Bet your life he wouldn’t have done this with an assistant at the Met when he did Tristan there are couple of years ago

      • V.Lind says:

        Excuse me, I did not miss the point. What Ms. Eisen is saying, as I quoted above from the linked article, is that it is perfectly legal for SOME people to physically manhandle someone in Staatskapelle Berlin.

        • Karl says:

          SOME people get the presumption of innocence. I think everyone should, but at this time only superstars get that, probably because they draw huge audiences and lots of $$.

  • Anonymous says:

    Oh please! She was pushed and yelled at! I’ll tell you that countless people would care to be in her position regardless, myself included! He’s a master of his craft, an undoubted inspiration musically, and anyone would be lucky to work with him. I think people need to stop being so touchy – take it in stride and continue. While his actions aren’t condoned, just deal with it. Make the effort for geniuses to respect you; for the progression of art demands it. Yes geniuses get preferential treatment; they are the trailblazers, and based on pure meritocracy, what’s more! Did our parents and teachers not reprimand us in similar fashions?

    Not to mention, perhaps just don’t touch his pianos without asking… learn to play the game and avoid ‘inconveniencing people’ as was her primary intention. She could have easily prevented this in the first place had she not taken those liberties with Barenboim’s personal pianos, specially made for him. Just ask first. Period.

    Furthermore, the language seems exaggerated: “As I was going to respond to him, he came toward me, grabbed me with both hands on my upper body (between my shoulders and throat) and shook me. As he did so, he screamed at me that I should disappear/leave the room.” Just mentioning the word ‘throat’ instead of ‘neck’ heightens the danger. Doesn’t a lover caress the neck, and not the ‘throat’? Sounds a bit worse that way.

    • mary says:

      You come across as a sad puppy suffering from extremely low self esteem. Best that you stay anonymous, don’t embarrass yourself.

      • Enquiring Mind says:

        Actually, he has resilience. You are the one who identifies with the victim, no matter how weak is their victimization. Transference…

      • Anonymous says:

        Frankly ‘mary’, personal insult is not the way to hold discourse.

        I’d also say there is a difference between low self-esteem and someone who respects authority and disciplinarianism where these are due; something in far too short a stock these days.

    • Esther Cavett says:

      If you feel this so strongly, and you’ve nothing to fear from those guys (as you’re not in that circle), why do you call yourself ‘Anonymous’ ?

      • Anonymous says:

        Because the other side of the debate is often much more vicious in their attacks; which often stem from the impassioned rather than the logical.

    • Gabriel says:

      Well said. Of course geniuses deserve preferential treatment. This woman should have considered herself lucky to be around him and should have made the respective allowances. But this day and age, being a victim provides social cachet and recompense, whereas forbearance in the service of great art does not.

  • Gustavo says:

    “Shaken and stirred”

    The Causa Barenboim has the potential to replace the failed Domingo campaign.

    It’s being lapped-up by the German media, including BR-Klassik:

  • Old Man in the Midwest says:

    He’s a spoiled Man Child and for those in this business, it should not come as any surprise.

    Talented? Yes. Mature? No.

  • Anon says:

    “Around 11:20 on the morning of Saturday March 17, 2018, Laura Eisen, the orchestral manager of the Staatskapelle Berlin, visited Daniel Barenboim in his dressing room, …”

    An impromptu meeting leading to violence and acrimony. Or as Stokowski called it, smackrimony.

  • klavierBWV988 says:

    And don’t forget Barenboim is untouchable because he’s leftist .

  • John Borstlap says:

    There is enough reason to believe the story of Frau Eisen, she had no motivation to ‘go after’ DB if what she told, were not true. She is courageous to share her experience with the media. The most telling sentence in the story:

    “The fact that different moral rules apply to geniuses and stars is at the root of many problems in classical music.”

    And so it is. Although talking about ‘geniusses’ is greatly exaggerated and certainly in relation to DB.

    The idea that normal morality does not aply to high-achieving performers of classical music is a remnant from 19C romantic cults and in contradiction with where the music stands for.

  • Kelly says:

    Anybody who has ever served Barenboim in the workplace knows his behavior is very Trumpian. The difference of course is Barenboim is liberal and enlightened. Trump is just Trumpian.

    • John Borstlap says:

      DB being ‘enlightened’ is an exaggeration. In his books he advocates noble civilisational values and Enlightenment ideas about art and culture, that they are there to inspire the better side of the psyche, aspirational and so on, but his support for and performances of Boulez tells otherwise, as his claim that Schoenberg will be the most popular composer of the 20th century and the fulfillment of Beethoven’s aspirations makes clear he never understood those Enlightenment values very well.

      • Kelly says:

        opinions don’t negate. Your opinion vs his opinion? Just wondering. Besides, in my very extremely limited classically trained opinion, Boulez’s Notations 1-4 & 7 was/is awesome!. I think it was important Barenboim toured the piece extensively at the turn of this century. Mission of music is accomplished when chances are taken and at least one person is influenced, right?

      • Guest says:

        To quote the real Dude, “Like, thats just your opinion, man”.

  • Esther Cavett says:

    I saw DB, when attending a Maazel concert (Mahler VII) at London RFH be unbelievably rude to autograph hunters. You can take his point – that it wasn’t a concert he was giving – but there are other ways of brushing the fans off without that scorn and aggression. He does have anger problems.
    I still love the Rubinstein line “Sorry, I only sign cheques”

  • M McAlpine says:

    Interesting. If the orchestral manager had been a six foot five, 200 lb man, would Barenboim have done this? I doubt it. Completely inexcusable. And this is the guy who likes to lecture others about reconciliation!

  • May says:

    I get the impression that all the reporting and the fuss for 1,5 year is about Barenboim’s yelling and pushing the lady, but not very much about
    the reason behind the nerves. “Misunderstanding” was a very vague word. From her description I got that she proposed to another organisation that they might borrow one of the personal pianos of the maestro, without having discussed the matter with him before. This is a major issue, maybe. He might have difficulty to deny the borrowing afterwards and maybe he doesn’t want his personal pianos to be moved or used by anybody else. If we heard that a violinist would not give his Stradivarius even to his mother, would that be strange? So, her proposal came out of not understanding the difference of administrative matters of the Operahouse and mingling with the maestro’s precious personal instruments. In my opinion this is called incompetence. Some jobs are not simple administrative ones, like a secretary’s let’s say.