Daniel Barenboim denies assault

Daniel Barenboim denies assault


norman lebrecht

September 05, 2019

The intendant of the Berlin Staatsoper Matthias Schulz has told the local press that his music director Daniel Barenboim rejects allegations that he shook and grabbed a female orchestra manager, Laura Eisen.

He admits, however, to shouting at her over what he now deswcribes as a misunderstanding over his wife’s piano.

Schulz said he discussed the matter separately with both parties and Barenboim was cleared by an investigation. Eisen stands by her story.



  • Gustavo says:

    Denial Barenboim

  • Anonymous says:

    Well, that must mean ‘off to the gallows’ for Barenboim in any case, right?? As so many seem to KNOW so intimately that he is a terrible monster, and would experience great joy in watching him fall regardless if proof in inconclusive or not.

    …Which he denies anyway. Does that have no value? Now the burden of proof lies on the accuser. That’s how this works. The whole thing is really rather sickening. Gabriel replied in the last post with the following:

    “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.”

    Very well said Gabriel. If he did in fact do it, can nobody simply accept and move on with the fact that ‘A temperamental artist overreacts’. End of story.

    But again, he denied. ‘Let them among you without sin cast the first stone,’ besides. Should accusers never have had a tantrum, or purport to never have overreacted, I’ll eat my hat. Unless any of you were there with a firsthand account, and also happen to be sinless saints, please stop crucifying one of the greatest musical minds of our day over something so comparatively insignificant in the first place. Drop this Schadenfreude, we beg you.

  • Esther Cavett says:

    This FT review of DB’s 75th birthday concert has interesting points:

    ” As each orchestra member handed Barenboim a red rose…it was evident that as much as it was anything, this concert was a show of power….With artists of this stature, do people actually hear the performance? Are they listening to memories of former glory? Or are they simply overawed to be in the presence of fame?…he is entitled to play Beethoven however he likes. But perhaps it is time to move on.”


    • Anonymous says:

      Very interesting points indeed, as long as the writers consider the other side as well, where power and artists of towering stature actually help in the artistic process (i.e. greatest conductors of 20th century). Perhaps it is time to preserve, not move on. Power isn’t to be shunned.

  • Karl says:

    If he really shook her couldn’t they do a DNA test on her clothes and find the proof? Touch DNA only requires very small samples from the skin cells left on an object after it has been touched.

    • HugoPreuss says:

      It is beyond me why there are six dislikes for this post. It strikes me as a reasonable suggestion to either prove or disprove the allegation. What’s wrong with this??

      • Mr. Knowitall says:

        Well, I clicked thumbs down because the comment shows only that the author is a fan of detective shows. Touch (aka trace) DNA might indicate that they touched, but not that he shook her. But Touch DNA, which is infamous for false positives, might not even show that he touched her at all, only that they touched the same thing. It’s too late now anyway and it appears that she didn’t ask to be examined then, which makes sense, since the presence of his DNA on her outer clothing would indicate only that they shared the same space.

        • Karl says:

          I never watch detective shows. I’m a scientist and I find new scientific methods to be fascinating. Touch DNA is better at proving innocence than guilt because of the contamination problem. If they found no DB DNA on Ms. Eisen that would clear DB. If they did it would still be an open question, because of possible contamination.

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    It is a good thing that Berlin Phil chose Rattle rather than Barenboim after Abbado years. He would not have survived with Berlin Phil with this degree of temper management issues.

  • Tamino says:

    Whatever, it’s a sad story that only knows losers.

  • Alviano says:

    Well, what’s he gonna say, “I did it; I am a terrible man”?
    There were two people in the room: the Great and Glorious Barenboim and a delusional young woman. Who you gonna believe? We already see the answer in the other comments.
    Me, I send Eisen a cyber-hug and tell her that she is the one who is great and glorious.

  • Karl says:

    What if it was proven to be true? If someone had a cell phone video that would be definitive. What should happen to Baremboim then? Should he be fired and never allowed to work anywhere again? Or should be have to take some anger management therapy, apologize and be allowed to work again somewhere else?

    • Sheila Novitz says:

      Barenboim having anger management therapy! Love to be a fly on the wall. The therapist would be a limp wreck after 5 minutes of Daniel telling him/her how the therapy course should be run. He knows everything about everything, and is NEVER wrong.

    • Bruce says:

      • Would a cell phone video (or any kind of video) really be enough though? Even the famous surveillance video of Ray Rice punching his wife unconscious brought widespread claims that he was protecting himself from domestic abuse because she slapped his face first. And someone from the previous thread claimed that this woman provoked Barenboim’s assault by not leaving the room instantly and wordlessly when he told her to.

      • Like Dutoit and Gatti (and others? haven’t been keeping track), he would work again. There are a plethora of orchestras and opera companies that would love to have him as a guest or as music director, regardless of the type, number, or credibility of the accusations against him.

    • Alviano says:

      We are on opposite sides of this, Karl, because you apparently believe that the behavior attributed to Barenboim is acceptable because he is great and glorious, and I don’t (we can debate the great and glorious part too, but let’s not do so in this thread).
      There are a 100 ways for a manager to handle the situation that are better for the opera house (fear does not improve job performance; staff turnover is disruptive; and such outbursts are injurious to Barenboim’s own health).
      Anyone with a problem managing anger like Barenboim apparently has should not be a manager. In an opera house a Generalmusikdirektor is also a manager.

      • Karl says:

        I don’t know where you got that. Over and over I assert that the presumption of innocence is important because false allegations are common. Anyone with a grudge now can make a false allegation and have a good chance of destroying someone’s career.

  • Sheila Novitz says:

    Daniel Barenboim has always been arrogant, bossy and verbally aggressive, but it’s difficult to imagine him as physically violent. Still, who knows? He is more famous than the orchestra manager, and is therefore likely to win any and all battles – whether he is lying or not.

  • Yossi yaniv says:

    Sue him!

  • Anthony M. Gigliotti says:

    Read the last paragraph of Nathan Cole’s account of his time with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.


    • John Borstlap says:

      “Once it was safe to take our seats, we began filing onto stage. Just before I passed through the narrow door, I tripped and nearly fell flat on my face (and, needless to say, the Strad). It was not a simple loss of coordination: something, or someone, had tripped me! I looked back, and there against the wall, mostly concealed in shadow, was Barenboim. His mischievous grin removed all doubt as to who had been the culprit.”

      Jus incredible.

  • Esther Cavett says:

    ==last paragraph of Nathan Cole’s account

    OMG that’s dynamite. Gerontius is very, very hard !

    BTW, I saw a DB interview where he discussed who were the best looking girls in the E-W Divan orch. He’s not a great guy.

  • eloise says:

    But everyone seems to miss the fact that Eisen lost her job. We could let go the idea of great artists having to be perfect as long as they’re not vindictive. If she hadn’t lost her job, I would have a lot more respect for everyone involved in the incident. But she got booted out. Why? Was she really incompetent, did the sight of her remind the maestro of his foibles, or did the admins want to keep him happy at any cost? Of course, there’s also the possibility that it never happened. Still, if they hadn’t fired her, I would be more inclined to believe the report exonerating Barenboim. They then could have found some excuse further down the line to let her go if she were truly a liar and incompetent. Appearances are important.

    • Bruce says:

      “He admits, however, to shouting at her over what he now describes as a misunderstanding over his wife’s piano” — in other words, exactly what she said it was. In other words, she was telling the truth, at least about that part of it.

      I suspect that DB couldn’t stand having her around any more because she reminded him of his bad behavior, whether that included physical assault or not. But who knows.