Barenboim conducts birthday concert for unemployed freelancers

Barenboim conducts birthday concert for unemployed freelancers


norman lebrecht

November 15, 2020

Daniel Barenboim is 78 today.

He is conducting a live streamed concert this afternoon at the Berlin Staatsoper for the benefit of the emergency relief fund of the German Orchestra Foundation.

On the menu Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58 with András Schiff as soloist and the Eroica Symphony.



  • Pedro says:

    Great programme! Pity Lupu has retired.

  • Occamsrazor says:

    I wonder who is going to play benefit concerts for the upper echelon when the inevitable collapse devours their remaining sources of income. There is something subtly humiliating about these seemingly genuine acts of kindness by the classical stars toward the poor average musicians who have been written off as useless eaters by the powers that be. I wonder how many of the poor intended recipients will have enough sense to respectfully refuse such assistance from their colleagues who’ve been suddenly separated from them by the camp administration and placed into the group that is worth feeding and thus biologically different from them. Doing so may even help the poor shmendriks professionally, as they may suddenly gain insight into the basic meaning of the term “ maestoso”.

    • Jean Heney says:

      Forget the political aspect of it. Money means food. Money means paying rent. Money means transportation. The basics of life override all considerations of intent.

    • Firing Back says:

      I tend to agree.
      Barenboim is, after all, the richest person in the industry. There’s something patronising and squirmy about all this.
      Is Schiff playing for free? I doubt it – unless I’m wrong, in which case someone can happily correct me.

      Everyone in the industry will now, of course (in public) gush at how humane and wonderful Schiff and Barenboim are, when, in private, they probably don’t believe it at all.
      It’s just good PR – simple.

      How much, exactly, do they intend to raise? A million – five million? Barenboim could personally donate that without even feeling it. That would be humane – and, in these times, much safer.


  • Tommy says:

    Basing this statement on the reports about his abusive behavior towards musicians even in the most prestigious orchestras….

    “Well David, what ever makes you look good!”

  • Jack Stuart says:

    Bravo Baremboim!

  • Martin Poulsen says:

    Beethoven’s piano concert nr 4 op.58. is one of the best. Have it on CD, with Wilhelm kempff, recording from 1962.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Joy and honor to Daniel Barenboim on his 78th birthday. It hardly seems possible. He has done what he thinks right, by the Palestinians, the West-Eeast Divan, by Edward Said, by Wagner in Israel, and by Edwin Fischer and Wilhelm Furtwaengler. It isn’t Furtwaengler’s fault that he was too big to fit into the boot of an automobile.

    • V.Lind says:

      I agree. He has taken up the mantle Anne-Sophie laid down. And I doubt (to Occamsrazor above) that the recipients will think badly of him for trying too get something for them.

    • Occamsrazor says:

      Edgar, imho incessant mixing politics with classical music is not only tasteless, it’s pathetic in the sense that real talent doesn’t need such cheap tricks to sell itself. I don’t recall Horowitz resorting to this strategy. His playing for the American troops during ww2 couldn’t be anything but sincere and the same goes for the greatest of artists of the time in every country that fought against Hitler. That war was pretty simple for everyone to recognize which side was the one to support. Using the Middle East conflict to gain publicity for classical music is ridiculous because the conflict hasn’t stopped since late 1940s and is far too complicated to be mitigated by playing some classical music together. Forcing Wagner upon Israelis is cheap beyond belief and is an obvious shock tactic. He should’ve played naked instead or dyed his hair green. Not only Wagner was a rabid antisemite whose writings make Hitler seem mild, nobody should write things that long because perfection in music is almost never sustained for longer than an hour. Offering the audience monsters that take half a day to finish can only appeal to average minds because only perfection in art is worth creating, let alone buying it. I’m happy to admit that I haven’t heard a note of his music besides the 2 short pieces that everyone knows and I think they are damn good music. As for the rest, I know in advance that listening to them is a guaranteed waste of time.

  • RW2013 says:

    Is it ok just to say Happy Birthday Maestro?

  • microview says:

    Huh? Can you explain that last bit? Thanks.

  • Many congratulations to Daniel Barenboim.

  • Pasqui Maurizio says:

    La 6 snfonia dei Beethoven diretta nel 2012 a London da Baremboim, magistrale, c era tutta la bravura, il sentimento, la partecipazione umana di questo gigante della musica classica.
    Grazie, grazie maestro che esisti e tieni vivo, la più bella musica del mondo LA MUSICA CLASSICA
    Maurizio Pasqui

  • Vera Hoffman says:

    It is nothing to be ashamed of needing help,you can’t eat pride.These are bad times for the arts too.

    • Occamsrazor says:

      Vera, I’m happy to have met many people in my life who eat pride on a daily basis as their main source of sustenance and I don’t feel alone because of my similar dietary choice. I can assure you that it’s the tastiest dish on the menu, it’s completely free and it has a narcotic effect not unlike the Japanese fugu fish. The establishment everywhere has been hiding this dietary secret from their subjects. If you switch almost entirely from food which is poisoned and devoid of nutrients by now anyway to pride, you will never go back to the previous lifestyle and will never be alone because pride-eaters are everywhere. I’m in nyc and occasional passers by of all races smile and say hello to me every day, it’s like being a member of a not so secret club whose members recognize each instantly by looking at each other. Every compromise and humiliation leaves a mark on one‘s face like a tattoo, by now most people are entirely “inked “. Being a connoisseur of pride-eating I think that cleaning toilets is better than being on public assistance and being on public assistance is better than eating scraps from the tables of classical stars.

  • Alexander T says:

    Borenboim to quote Carlos Kleiber….

  • Silvia Castiglioni says:

    Felicidades Maestro !!

  • GFHandel says:

    I can’t believe some of these cynical comments. When someone does a charitable act surely it is only right we believe the best of them. I hope the people who are decrying Barenboim are putting their own hand in their pocket for out of work musicians!

    • Firing Back says:

      What naive indignation.
      Do you see Daniel B or Schiff putting their hands in their own pockets? Daniel B being a multi-multi-millionaire courtesy of the industry he, of course, wants to save.
      Wake up!


      • Derek says:


        I am aware that Barenboim may be self serving sometimes but if proceeds end up in the emergency relief fund, that is all to the good isn’t it?

        • Occamsrazor says:

          Derek, classical musician losing his job is not an emergency. A child with cancer is. To allocate funds to unemployed classical musicians is to declare that are facing imminent death and it’s obvious that they can only die of suicide because it would be preferable to them instead of changing their professions for a period of time or even permanently. If that’s the case and killing yourself is better than driving a cab then classical stars should be honest and play benefit concerts for mentally ill unemployed classical musicians. That’s all I’m asking for, just add those 2 words “ mentally ill“ and your conscience is clean.

      • GFHandel says:

        I am perfectly wide awake thank you. Just that I don’t decry people who are seeking to help others. Sorry you find it so offensive!

  • Edgar Self says:

    Occam, I see it differently. Musicians involving themselves in politics, for better or worse, include Kurt Masur, Wagner, Toscanini, Pfitzner, Isaac Stern, Mascagni, Khrennikov, Rostropovich, Bronislaw Hubermann, Adolf Busch, Menuhin, Furtwaengler, Casals, Cortot, Hindemith, Paderewski, Gergiev, Cliburn, Auber, Shostakovich, Paul Robeson, David Bar-Ilan at random. and are damned if they do or don’t, according to their lights or our own. I’m sure there are many more.

    It’s Barenboim’s 78th birthday. I give him benefit of the doubt for trying to do good, to espouse unpopular causes that he thinks right, and for contravening stereotypical behaviour that might otherwise be expected of him . He is pugnacious, controversial, and not averse tomore controversy to make a point. I think he is a man of principle, and we see very few of them today.

    • Occamsrazor says:

      Edgar, I know what you mean. Pushkin once said that an artist always has to do 3 things, please the people, please himself and please the Tsar. PS. It’s a fine balance and those who achieve success must make compromises and this is the reason why professional arts are inherently flawed. All successful artists have to play games of some sort. Those who have dignity try to minimize them, the rest of them play politics as much as possible, looking for every opportunity for grandstanding. You can call prostitutes sex workers but most people still remember that they are prostitutes. I can hardly remember classical musicians who were able to avoid playing games entirely. Glenn Gould, Philippe Hirschhorn and Rosita Renard come to mind but I might be wrong because I don’t know enough about their lives.

  • Arthur G. Miller says:

    It would help to have some comments from people who actually are personally acquainted and knowledgeable about DB or AS. These comments here, about motives, are basically just guesses or distant impressions. True, great artists are not necessarily nice people, but of course we generally value them despite their flaws—which we, also, have. In this specific instance, the “giving them the benefit of doubt” idea seems persuasive.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Occam, I’m enjoying Pushkin’s epigram and trying ro think of a successful artist who didn’t play games. For many, the game is themselves, their persona , their shtick. I would have placed Gould in this group. Philippe Hirschhorn was a splendid violinist who looked he part and died young. Rrosita Eenard, whom I’ve also mentioned, may just have had an unusual nervous system, like Simon Barere. I read the first sentence of Havelock Ellis’s “The Dance of Life” and closed the book: “Man will not progress until he realizes that all his life is an art.” An artist’s first creation is often himself. The problem may be wilth the conception of success.

    There is contrariety in Barenboim, a short man who manages to like tall people. Here in Chicago he was controversial as ever, not exactly a favorite conductor or pianist, sometimes boring in performance, but never personally. He passionately admires Furtwaengler and his teacher Edwin Fischer, but on the other hand Boulez and Elliott Carter. E strano, The game is intercalated, multi-dimensional, and played with glass beads.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Occam, I’m enjoying Pushkin’s epigram and trying to think of successful artists who didn’t play games. I read the first sentence of Havelock Ellis’s “The Dance of Life” and closed the book: “Man will progress only when he realizes that all his life is an art.” An artist’s first creation often is himself, his persona, or shtick. I would put Gould in this group. Philippe Hirschhorn was a splendid violinist who looked the part and died young. RRositaRrenard, whom I’ve also mentioned, may just have had an unusual nervous system, like Simon Barere’s.

    Barenboim is a short man who manages to like tall people. Here in Chicago he was controversial as ever. Not exactly a favorite conductor or pianist, he could disappoint in performance but was never boring personally. He admires Furtwaengler and Edwin Fischer, but also Boulez and Elliott Carter. Perhaps lthe problem is our idea of success. Or the game may be played with glass beads, intercalated and multi-dimensional.

    • Occamsrazor says:

      Edgar, absolute intellectual honesty always leads up to Sharia law whether you like it or not. That’s why Islam is called the religion of kings. Both Pushkin and Tolstoy confessed to recognizing this fact. Art is idolatry and endless compromise. Look at the masked herds of former humans marching into an electronic oblivion because they are afraid of a seasonal flu with 0.3% mortality rate. We have arrived here because of the sum total of our countless compromises, greeds and weaknesses. Do you suppose the way out of this situation lies through another compromise or two? You may want to read Pushkin’s “Imitations of the Koran”. No poetry works in translation but one can get the general idea.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Now you have los me, Occam. Is this a new iscussion? Was it also Pushkin’s birthday?