Barenboim cancels synagogue concert with bad back

Barenboim cancels synagogue concert with bad back


norman lebrecht

November 18, 2021

Tonight’s closing concert of the Jewish Culture Days Berlin has been called off after Daniel Barenboim called in sick with a bad back. He was due to give a recital in the  Rykestrasse Synagogue.

His doctors have ordered 10 days’ rest.  Four Beethoven recitals next week at the Musikverein Vienna have also been called off.

Barenboim, 79, will be out of action until the middle of December.




  • Refuah Schelema and Speedy Recovery to this very important Maestro

  • JB says:

    The queen and now Barenboim too? And they still want us to think these aren’t related?

  • Martinu says:

    Slipped disc??

  • Nijinsky says:

    Maybe a little lighter on the Beethoven? It’s interesting that I recently found there’s definite evidence that Mozart already knew and had heard Beethoven, when he wrote K. V. 537, given some of the passage work that then the know-it-alls would call “transitional.” What’s funny, is that although this isn’t the case here, those “transitions” can carry a new tune, that’s not supposed to be there, but might be more what holds the composition together than whatever allows “the-authorities” to say it’s Sonate or whatever form (national anthem like the greatest composer of these times P. D. Q Bach likes to stick in ANYWHERE when there’s dead space).

    But Mozart just takes delight, and it makes him happy there’s someone with such breadth for passage work, he doesn’t make a storm out of it, you see.

    A few singers might ease up a bit as well, Netrebko might make a career out of the 9th symphony, with the sopranos in the choir holding onto the edge of a cliff with their high C’s. since she likes straining herself so much…

    Incidentally, KV537 was written around the time Ludwig’s first piano concerto was started, as well as …..

    I was actually told that Mozart had heard Beethoven in a concert, and then came to him afterwards saying he liked a certain theme, and then played it for him. But I think that would have been an improvisation, would it have happened, because the “medium” that told me said it was a concerto of Beethoven, which he never played any of till after Mozart moved on…..

    LIGHTEN UP a bit….

  • Max Raimi says:

    “Four Beethoven recitals next week at the Musikverein Vienna have also been called off.”

    How many 79-year-olds are scheduling four recitals in a week? I remember when he was Music Director here in Chicago, I would feel exhausted just looking at his schedule. A phenomenon.

    Many years ago, I persuaded him to play the piano part in a performance of some arrangements of Jewish folk songs I had written, joining a colleague who played the cello and myself. We were to play it for the Radiothon, a fundraiser the orchestra used to hold every year live on the air, carried by the Chicago classical station WFMT.

    Barenboim explained that he was too busy to look at the music in advance, and would only have time to run through it with us a few minutes before we went on the air. I was a little nervous, because I written an extremely difficult piano part. Fine pianists had needed time to work it out in the past. But what could I say?

    When we met to run through it, I gave the score to Barenboim, and without a preliminary glance he tore through it with us. It was astonishing how flawlessly he navigated all the difficulties and sensed uncannily where the phrases were going. And then, in the last arrangement, at one of the most difficult moments for the piano, he started playing his own version, more or less what I had written, but even more complex. I stared at him in amazement. When we finished, he was a bit apologetic. “I’m sorry I didn’t play exactly what you wrote there Max — it’s very good! But as I was looking at the cello part I thought I should support it with just a little elaboration. You don’t mind, do you?”

    Very few people on earth could have even managed the notes I had written sight-reading at full speed. But Barenboim was also following all the other instrumental lines, and figuring out instantaneously how to support his colleagues beyond what the score instructed. It was thrilling and utterly humbling.

    • MB says:


      Ask Muti the genius to do the same, see if he can.

    • Piano Lover says:

      Incredible and amazing indeed!
      What about all the languages he speaks?Or the memory he has?Or he can give any recital anywhere with any program?
      I am always speechless when I think of all these gifts!

    • Una says:

      I remember him doing and hearing all his 32 piano sonatas of Beethoven at the Royal Festival Hall in about five concerts back in 2007. [Now 35 available] Not 79, but 65 or similar age.

    • Una says:

      Yes, I can imagine so. A generous performer as well.

    • Nijinsky says:

      I remember a TV program with Barenboim conducting, and it involved the Chicago principle trumpet player, who had had a bad car accident, or so, and his lip was badly injured, but had gotten himself completely back into shape, even after surgery to his lip. I think he played Hayden’s trumpet concerto, and then they played a Beethoven symphony and Herr Barenboim actually suggested he play a section up an octave. On film, during the performance, we got to see Barenboim looking gleefully at the trumpet player inviting him to (I don’t know what to call it? : “opportunity”), but the trumpet player remaining respectful tot he score, demurely shook his head at Barenboim, and looked even a bit disgusted, if not abashed.

      There IS some music you simply DO NOT change, nor is it blow the whistle, snap your fingers, and demonstrate coaching abilities for effect. It’s more natural than that. And one misses the very turns that go beyond the notes all lined up.

      It DO find it quite amazing that he states, AGAIN on film, that Jacqueline Dupre had ideas about rubato and fermatas (simple rest points, actually that are indigenous to any phrase or returning points of momentum) and that he had difficulty following her. And I was told by someone who would know and won’t mention, that when Jacqueline was starting to ail and didn’t want to go out after concerts he found her hysterical. People DO need to rest. And with Jacky that was making the notes that are THERE, natural, completely instinctive and where they come from and return to, but he will find it jolly to change notes in Beethoven for the hype…..

      And sorry, but I’m not convinced with this stuff around Jacqueline, that what Margolis reported didn’t happen. And I haven’t really heard proof other than many said she was incapable, but if she was in such a state that she didn’t feel she could really communicate, be understood, or that her natural feelings could find their way out without being tasked, I don’t see that she couldn’t have, when left alone, had a moment of clarity, as so many people do just before dying, and called to ask to be helped to move on……

      I could be wrong but haven’t really heard that she never was left alone (even for an hour or a bit less) the day she died. I’m ready to hear that, I just am not convinced that what Margolis has shared was false.

      And I’m not stating this to demonize Barenboim, but to hear or read how he “secretly” went and had other relationships than with his wife who was dying, and then when uncomfortable truths emerged from Jacky’s sisters’ memoir and a film, we hear Barenboim stating : “couldn’t you have waited till I died.”

      Sorry, I just have questions about this. All sorts of things happen in interactions with people, and if there’s a forever, a Kingdom of Heaven, a Happy Hunting Ground, a dimension where time isn’t linear but collected as material or scenes and experiences for the soul to grow, then it’s a learning experience for all involved.

      • Piano Lover says:

        That Dupré-wife story is of no importance to the music he gives.I don’t like people talking bout this event!

      • Max Raimi says:

        “I remember a TV program with Barenboim conducting…” Your “memory” is quite imaginative. Bud Herseth had his auto accident in 1954. Barenboim first conducted the orchestra in 1970, and became Music Director two decades later. In all his years as our Music Director, I never once remember Barenboim altering a score in the manner you describe.
        As to what transpired in his first marriage, I wasn’t there and you weren’t either. I wouldn’t presume to pass judgements on other people’s marriages. I have a full plate navigating my own.

  • Una says:

    Poor man! You can’t play the piano, sleep or do anything with a bad back, and he’s nearly 80. Wish him well.

  • Ruby Yacht says:

    He so often turns his back on his people.

  • Ruby Yacht says:

    To me, he has always been vastly overrated.

  • Evan Tucker says:

    What a shame. Now the world will never know Barenboim’s insights into the Beethoven sonatas.

  • Piano Lover says:

    Will he make it for the New Year concert?