Daniel Barenboim biography
part 2: 1948-1953
based on Barenboim's A
Life in Music
Article added on January
Daniel Barenboim: A Life in Music. Weidenfeld & Nicholson,
September 2002, 246 p. Get the English edition of the autobiography from Amazon.co.uk,
(another edition?), Amazon.fr,
Deutsche Ausgabe Die Musik, mein Leben. Autobiografie bestellen bei Amazon.de. A Life in Music is not an autobiography in the strict sense. Barenboim
does not refer to private or personal matters. The book is not simply a revised
edition, updated ten years later, as Barenboim has added six new chapters.
When the State of Israel was
created in 1948 Daniel Barenboim's parents decided to emigrate there, although
not have to leave Argentina for reasons of anti-Semitism.
Unlike his father, his mother had been an enthusiastic Zionist from early age
In July 1952 the family left for Europe on their way to Israel. His parents
main desire was for their son to grow up as a member of a majority population,
and not in a Jewish minority somewhere in the Diaspora.
In Buenos Aires, Markevich had his very own way of conducting and wanted to
set up a school for conductors. He asked Daniel's parents to take him to
Salzburg, Austria, to take part in the last concert of the conducting class -
which Daniel did, playing Bach's Concerto D minor. Throughout the
summer of 1952, he observed Markevich's conducting class. Barenboim at this
time was nine years old and spoke only Spanish and a little Yiddish.
At the end of August 1952, the family went to Vienna where Barenboim's father
gave a lecture at the Academy and Daniel played a succession of concerts,
including one at the American Institute. From Vienna the family went to Rome
where Daniel gave a recital towards the end of the year.
In December 1952, the Barenboim's flew to Israel. Daniel remembers a pioneer
feeling, a great sense of activity and purpose. He himself had a feeling of
achievement by the education he received at home, which was based on
self-observation and self-analysis. Home and country became one unit and there
was a feeling of emotional security.
Arriving in December in Israel meant that Daniel had to start school in the middle
of the school year, with a language of which he did not understand a word, not
to mention the different alphabet. No one of his family could speak Hebrew. He
also learned English which is still the second language in Israeli schools
Barenboim grew up in Tel Aviv where, in the 1950s, he could play football in
the streets. Doors and windows were open, people communicated with each other.
Zionist and socialist ideas as well as a positive attitude towards life
dominated. Daniel did not leave Israel between the end of 1952 and the summer
of 1954. He lived in a flat together with his parents and grandparents.
During his teens, Daniel became interested in philosophy and read Spinoza and
Kierkegaard. He was impressed my Martin Buber and Max Brod. Buber made him
realize that things are never what they seem to be but how one thinks about
them. In school, they also discussed the Bible from a philosophical angle.
His father continued to be his music teacher, but Barenboim also studied
composition for some time with the Israeli composer Paul Ben-Haim, who had
come from Munich and whose name was originally Paul Frankenburger. Ben-Haim
taught him harmony, but he was not strict enough. It was not until 1955 in
Paris with Nadia Boulanger that he was "put through the mill" and
received an ascetic, strict musical education.
Daniel gave some recitals in Israel and played chamber music in public. In the
summer of 1953, he gave his first concert with the Israel Philharmonic
Orchestra, which was conducted by Milton Katims. He received a mixed reception
from the players and the audience. They felt that he was a promising young
talent but at the same time there was "the typically Jewish
reaction" - Ah well, we have seen too many child prodigies.
here for Part 1 of Barenboims' biography; biography part