Watch: Barenboim plays Schubert at Jacques Chirac’s funeral

Watch: Barenboim plays Schubert at Jacques Chirac’s funeral


norman lebrecht

October 02, 2019

Overcome by the occasion, he suffers a memory lapse at 2:29 and quickly recovers.



  • Gustavo says:

    A pity Jacques Loussier didn’t make it.

  • Dimitri Vassilakis says:

    Terrible playing , even students play better , what a shame for Schubert and for all people present ( alive and dead )

    • piano lover says:

      Why?i rather think it is a very romantic playing.
      As for the people present….how many knwo something about Schubert or piano all together???
      Apart from president Macron who,I read,is a piano player ;no matter how good or bad he might be.
      Others are spectators only.

      • Fredrik Wanger says:

        That no one gets it is not the point at all. I think he simply assumed he remembered it-he didn’t-and it was just sloppy playing by a fine artist.

  • retroman says:

    Daniel Barenboim is proof that all that rhetoric by Shinichi Suzuki and José Antonio Abreu that playing beautiful music will make us better human beings is nothing but a lie. Barenboim is a great pianist and conductor, and yet he is one of the most odious, arrogant and horrible human beings that I have ever had the displeasure of working with. I really enjoyed watching him murder this Schubert impromptu at 02:26.

  • Rob says:

    Dulcet tones and wrong notes for a corrupt politician.

  • John Rook says:

    Memory lapse? Maybe just overcome by not having looked at it before sitting down to play it.

  • Esther Cavett says:

    ==Overcome by the occasion, he suffers a memory lapse

    No, it’s because he never, ever practises.

    His last Beethoven sonata cycle in London had fistfuls of wrong notes and a couple of places where he lost his way

    • Andy says:

      Presumably he must practice, but not enough? Does anyone know, genuinely, how much he actually does practice. I’d be genuinely interested.

      • Anson says:

        His dear friend and “soul mate” Edward Said once told me (and a group of people) that Barenboim doesn’t practice. We laughed, like you, but he insisted: “no, he really does not practice. Hardly at all. I don’t know why.”

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        I noticed back several years back that Barenboim was spending more time on the podium and politiking than practicing. Alliteration intended.

      • Dean says:

        As someone who paid a LOT of money to hear him lose his way in many major pieces, I would suggest he doesn’t practice or study his scores. If he does, I certainly haven’t heard (or seen) the evidence.

      • piano lover says:

        I don’t think he does practicing:too heavy a schedule he has!!

    • mat says:

      I see the critics are ouh today and as usual thry are unconcered with the greatness of the music and the composer. But no one has given a damn about the composer for the past 50 years

  • Jeremy Atkin says:

    Horrible playing – not just the memory lapse but the amateurish pedalling . Embarrassing

  • Jan Kaznowski says:

    Death is unfair.

    The murderous thug Stalin had Sviatoslav Richter playing at his funeral and the great Chrirac had the long past-it, non-practising Barenboim.

    A nasty performance.

  • Gustavo says:

    One could argue he’s just like the late Horowitz who often showed such mannerisms.

    Daniel Horrorwitz…

  • Marc says:

    Requiescat in pace, of course, but if ever the Dies irae needs to be sung in the course of the obsequies, this was the occasion for it.

    The Barenboim performance was imposed on the Archdiocese by the friendly people in government– there really is no place in a funeral Mass for a celebrity pianist doing the State a favor; I imagine that M. Barenboim’s guardian angel was trying to do him a good turn but, as is so often the case for all of us, alas, he ignored the prompt.

  • M McAlpine says:

    A wonder he didn’t give everyone a lecture on how they should run the country like he did at the Prom concert the other year!

  • Andrew says:

    Dreadful that Chirac, the promoter and instigator of abortion law in France, should be permitted a Catholic funeral.

  • Alexander Tarak says:

    Poor Jacques Chirac. He deserved better than that.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Bloody awful.

  • Cyril says:

    To be fair, that’s when Chirac’s ghost was blowing in his ear.

  • Leporello says:

    Ah, François Schubert, how suitable.

  • CJ says:

    Why are you all so negative? I thought it was moving.
    It was Macron’s choice and it must be nice to have a President interested in classical music.
    The choice was probably related to the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, given Chirac’s views on foreign policy, notably his courageous decision to refuse to participate in the Iraq war.

    • prok says:

      Because one of the best paid classical artists alive is sitting at the piano and playing like a first year student maybe?

      • Alexander Tarak says:

        Not even a first-year student.
        You wouldn’t get admitted to any serious music college if you played like that at the audition.

    • AT says:

      You are so right.The negativity is depressing. Classical music is sublime. It’s culture is unhealthy.

  • Clarrieu says:

    The most ironic in all this being that Chirac had no feeling AT ALL for music. In his memories, he recalls his admission interview to ENA, and his answer as he happened to be questioned about Bayreuth: “Mr President, I’d rather tell you that I’m not musical at all. Question me about poetry, literature, art, not about music.” And later: “the jury thought it was a good answer”.

  • Norman Krieger says:

    The vitriol here is shameful. I wonder if anyone in this feed could play this music because it actually requires compassion, empathy and sensitivity to being human! If you don’t like his interpretation fine but some of these comments are simply mean spirited.
    Isn’t the world
    brewing with enough
    of this ? Has anyone here ever played the piano in an acoustic space like that?? Try it! I am sure that what we hear with microphones so close to the piano is not the same effect as sitting in that church with its reverberations etc.
    Barenboim is most probably listening and using the space as an instrument itself.

    • CJ says:

      Well said Mr Krieger, bravo!
      “La critique est aisée, mais l’art est difficile”.
      Also, I might be getting sentimental, but I found beautiful the reflection of the coffin, covered in the three-coloured French flag, on the side of the Steinway while Barenboim was playing Schubert.
      That image and the music were more powerful and meaningful to me that a possible one second memory lapse ar 2:29!
      P.S. No French bashing please, I am not French! 😉

    • AT says:

      You are so gloriously right Norman! How wonderful your words. So right on!
      Where is our compassion?

  • Plush says:

    The Israeli masquerading as an Argentinian masquerading as a great pianist.

  • Peter Von Berg says:

    It’s not the memory slip or the wrong notes. That’s OK, many great pianists have those. It’s just that the playing is plain bad. I could never understand how Barenboim was ever considered a major pianist. Never mind a great one.

  • Cecelia says:

    A few thoughts: 1. he’s pretty old (Re.memory) 2. it’s is a funeral/ nobody paid for tickets to be there 3. as a musician unfamiliar with this piece, I didn’t notice the slip on first listen.

    We are entitled to be upset that most people will accept an imperfect performance because the artist is famous but ultimately it’s a funeral and IMO not an appropriate time to critique someone paying tribute… that being said it may be time for him to stop playing solo concerts. Not for me to judge!