Daniel Barenboim and the final days of Peter Jonas

Daniel Barenboim and the final days of Peter Jonas


norman lebrecht

February 02, 2023

A German biography of the brilliant opera manager was published last year. An English version came out today.

Over the next couple of days we will offer extracts from Opera for All: The Biography of Sir Peter Jonas, by Julia Glesner. It is available to purchase from amazon.co.uk here

Peter had a history of cancer going back more than half a century. When the end approached, he reached out to an old friend.

Daniel Barenboim writes:
Peter Jonas was an extremely tough person. In the last weeks of his life, we spoke on the phone every day. There were days when everything was black for him. Days when he thought he could no longer bear his illness. On other days, he had regained his courage. He wasn’t playing a part for me: he was absolutely honest. He was not afraid of death. During those weeks, I played him a piano piece every day on the phone, which he had requested from me beforehand. It often moved him to tears, also because he knew he would never attend another concert. Peter had a special strength within himself to continue living despite his illnesses. That is why he fought to the last. For me he lives on in the memory of our friendship, for his audience in the memories of his productions.

Picture that: Every last morning of Peter’s life, Daniel would call and play something for him.

Greater love hath no man than to make music daily for his dying friend.


  • Helen Kamioner says:

    I was blessed with the privilege of serving for 9 years as the Director of North American PR for the Bayerische Staatsoper during Sir Peter’s leadership. I considered every moment with him precious and will miss him for the rest of my life…Er der herrlichster von Allen.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Deeply moving. Thank you for sharing.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    That’s real love and friendship, right there.

  • Anthony Sayer says:

    Reached Out.
    In English: Contacted.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Contacted: “your parcel will be delivered today”;
      Reached out: ‘just wondering how you are going with your health”.

  • Ernest says:

    The Powerhouse years at ENO – exciting and trail blazing – bringing opera alive to all who attended. The opera world needs more like him today.