Daniel Barenboim: What lies ahead at 80

Daniel Barenboim: What lies ahead at 80


norman lebrecht

November 14, 2022

The birthday celebrations have been put on hold.

The world’s best recognised classical musician is undergoing treatment in Berlin for a neurological condition that will keep him out of action for the rest of the year.

Barenboim said not long ago: ‘I’m always happy when I can make music.’

The precise opposite is equally true. He was quietly depressed in the early Covid lockdown and will be frustrated now, not knowing when he can return to the only activity that gives his life meaning. At 80, what lies ahead for Daniel Barenboim?

He will remain head of the Berlin Staatsoper as long as he likes. He will also preside over the city’s Barenboim-Said Academie and he will be swamped with invitations from the world’s finest institutions to conduct, play piano, lecture, as soon as he is able. He can hope to continue, like Herbert Blomstedt, to performing until 95, and beyond.

That should be assurance enough for most mortal musicians, but Barenboim is no ordinary mortal. He self-belief and sense of mission are simply extraordinary. He genuinely believes he can, through music, make a better world. He keeps trying. The ambition drives him on.

We pray for his recovery, and for the better world he so ardently promises.

And with that, there is hope.






  • Alan says:

    An amazing man. But Blomstedt at 80 was bouncing on the podium. And even at 90. I’ve seen Barenboim several times in the last few years and he really is slowing down. It’s very possible that he may not come back and if he does I suspect it’ll be on a very much reduced schedule. Mehta’s decline has been rapid. One can only hope Barenboim’s isn’t the same.

  • ER says:

    He packs such wisdom into this
    Peral talk. We join Slipped Disc in prayer for him. May he take comfort from knowing that while the moment of music making always ends, the change it makes in our lives, and memories, stays. Music does make the world a better place, it changes the chemistry of the person listening…one sees it on
    the transfigured faces of one or another person coming out of a concert hall. The sum of all those moments is grand.
    Blessings at 80, and oward.

  • M Kaznowski says:

    The NYT article referred to him having problems speaking at one point. Maybe he had a stroke ?

  • Evan Tucker says:

    This might be a blessing. If he played less, he might be a more consistent performer.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    The Maestro will always have music, of which he can rightly say:

    “When old age shall this generation waste,
    Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
    Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st,
    “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” – that is all
    Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” (Keats)

  • Pascale Bernheim says:

    Merci Norman ! Barenboim est un fabuleux pianiste. Et comme il le décrit lui même il nous accroche dès la première note et nous ne nous lâche jamais. Pour moi, il est unique.

  • Una says:


    Here is another of Bruce Duffie’s interviews, originally for WNIB Classical 97 in Chicago, but now transcribed.

  • Antwerp Smerle says:

    So many wonderful memories! Nupen’s film “The Trout” would be poignant viewing now, especially in view of the decline in Zubin Mehta’s health.

    For a more upbeat memory, try Barenboim’s first recording (with the NYPO in 1971) of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony. Inexplicably never (afaik) released on CD, but available as a download here:


    The LP was released by CBS (latterly Sony) in a box with a copy of the miniature score. That was kinda ironic, in view of the unmarked, but totally thrilling, accelerando made by Barenboim in the coda!