Israelis and Palestinians join in new orchestra film

Israelis and Palestinians join in new orchestra film


norman lebrecht

January 19, 2020

A German film, Crescendo, directed by filmmaker Dror Zahavi, explores the narrative possibilities of Israelis and Palestinians forming an orchestra together.

No resemblance to West-East Diwan.

The conductor, a German, has a Nazi father.


  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    I wonder what will happen to East-West Divan orchestra when Daniel Barenboim is no longer there? Such a larger than life figure that one can hardly imagine a time when he will no longer be present. For those who hate Barenboim for political reasons, one must point out that many of the most prominent Israeli conductors of today owe a huge amount to him for the encouragement he showed them at the start of their careers, including Lahav Shani.

  • V. Lind says:

    ‘The conductor, a German, has a Nazi father.’

    Not his fault. Unless he has a Nazi bent, irrelevant.

    I didn’t watch the video so I do not know who you are talking about.

  • anon says:

    Judging from the trailer, this might be a worthwhile and helpful film. Looking on a personal level at the hatreds that exist on both sides might lead people to examine harmful beliefs and move the region to a little more peace and cooperation.

  • Who will fund this ridiculous project. The United Nations?

    • V. Lind says:

      Watch the trailer — I finally did. Not a “ridiculous project” (and why is it ridiculous? recalcitrant attitudes?) — a feature film.

      Another misleading blog. written to imply that this is a real undertaking.

      We’ll see whether it sinks without trace as fast as another recent movie that has been given a lot of play here recently…

      Looks quite interesting. West Bank Side Story, maybe.

    • Max Grimm says:

      Has the UN taken up financing independent fiction films?

    • MIRIAM says:

      Helene: Deeply worthwhile film, made with exquisite care, integrity and clarity about political conflicts (Israel/Palestine/Nazi Germany past and present. I left the film in tears.

  • Andreas B. says:

    Some might have misunderstood:

    This is a fictional story, not a documentary.
    It premiered in German cinemas last week.

    The story was, in fact, inspired by Barenboim’s West-Eastern Divan.

    A review can be found here:

    Austrian actor Peter Simonischek portrays conductor Eduard Sporck, whose (fictional) parents were doctors at the Birkenau concentration camp.

    Personally, I feel unconvinced by this trailer – perhaps just because I find fictional representations of classical music and musicians mostly unconvincing and rarely watchable.

    But perhaps also because I get the impression that the complicated subject matter deserves better than this.

    I’d rather watch a documentary:

    • V. Lind says:

      I like a good documentary as much as the next person, but having been educated in literature I am aware that sometimes more can be achieved in a fiction than in a doco. The early reviews on this are very positive, so I am prepared to give an enthralling theme a chance.

      I love movies about classical music.

  • Ingeborg Baumann says:

    If the conductor is the one in the back, it is Peter Simonischek, an Austrian, born in Graz. You might know him from the film “Toni Erdmann”.
    Member of the Burgtheater and long time “Jedermann” at the Salzburg Festival.

  • Alexander Radziewski says:

    Have seen the film at the premiere and it’s kind of entertaining but not a really exciting level in my point of view. The Diwan orchestra is one reality, the real long and better way to come together in the area is here: