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  • Divan Orchestra embarks on European tour
    © Monika Rittershaus

Divan Orchestra embarks on European tour

This August, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra embarks on a four-city, six-concert tour across Europe following their annual residency at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. Divan co-founder Daniel Barenboim leads the orchestra and pianist Martha Argerich is the featured guest soloist.

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  • Secretary-General designates West-Eastern Divan Orchestra as United Nations Global Advocate for Cultural Understanding

Secretary-General designates West-Eastern Divan Orchestra as United Nations Global Advocate for Cultural Understanding

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today designated the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra as a United Nations Global Advocate for Cultural Understanding. The designation took place at an event at the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG), attended by the Secretary-General and Daniel Barenboim, the Orchestra’s co-founder and a UN Messenger of Peace.

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  • Orchestra of Mideast Musicians Builds Bridges for Peace

Orchestra of Mideast Musicians Builds Bridges for Peace

“It is not easy to come face to face with human beings you normally grow up viewing or thinking of as your enemy,” [Palestine born violinist Tyme] Khleifi said. “Just confronting that and reckoning with it and coming to terms with it is a huge thing, and so that is why actually every member of the orchestra, the people who decide to come back, are very courageous for doing so and for making that decision.”

Another member of the orchestra, Israeli violinist Guy Braunstein, said it is naive to think music can bring peace, but he said it can break down barriers among communities.

“The acceptance of what we do with the instruments is important,” he said. “It should be escorted by the acceptance that we are equal, with and without the instruments.”

Read the article by The Voice of America.

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  • Barenboim-Said Foundation Seeks Music Theory Teacher

Barenboim-Said Foundation Seeks Music Theory Teacher

The Barenboim-Said Foundation seeks an accomplished teacher to teach Music Theory to children and youth in the Palestinian Territories. The applicant shall give individual and group music theory lessons starting at beginner level to children and youth. The applicant shall cooperate with the instrumental teachers and be ready to provide a curriculum for music theory. The applicant shall prepare yearly exams and participate in student evaluation and meetings. The applicant shall support the students and the school in development towards excellence in music. The applicant shall be motivated and flexible.

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  • Co-Founder Daniel Barenboim Awarded “Golden Victoria 2015”

Co-Founder Daniel Barenboim Awarded "Golden Victoria 2015"

On November 2, West-Eastern Divan Orchestra co-founder Daniel Barenboim was honored by the German Magazine Publishers association with the “Golden Victoria 2015” for his life’s work. With this prize, the association values Barenboim’s musical work as well as his unique commitment to international understanding, in particular his work towards the reconciliation and mutual understanding between Israelis and Arabs through the language of music.

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  • New album: Live from Teatro Colón with Daniel Barenboim and Martha Argerich

New album: Live from Teatro Colón with Daniel Barenboim and Martha Argerich New album: Live from Teatro Colón with Daniel Barenboim and Martha Argerich New album: Live from Teatro Colón with Daniel Barenboim and Martha Argerich New album: Live from Teatro Colón with Daniel Barenboim and Martha Argerich

As the orchestra today inaugurates its summer performances, the digital record label Peral Music has released Live from Teatro Colón, an extraordinary new album that captures the reunion of legendary pianists Daniel Barenboim and Martha Argerich in their home city of Buenos Aires, in concert with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.

As the orchestra today inaugurates its summer performances, the digital record label Peral Music has released Live from Teatro Colón, an extraordinary new album that captures the reunion of legendary pianists Daniel Barenboim and Martha Argerich in their home city of Buenos Aires, in concert with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.

As the orchestra today inaugurates its summer performances, the digital record label Peral Music has released Live from Teatro Colón, an extraordinary new album that captures the reunion of legendary pianists Daniel Barenboim and Martha Argerich in their home city of Buenos Aires, in concert with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.

As the orchestra today inaugurates its summer performances, the digital record label Peral Music has released Live from Teatro Colón, an extraordinary new album that captures the reunion of legendary pianists Daniel Barenboim and Martha Argerich in their home city of Buenos Aires, in concert with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.

Read More >

  • Summer tour 2015
    Photo by Teatro Colón

Summer 2015 tour takes West-Eastern Divan to Argentina, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and UK

For their 2015 summer workshop and concerts, the musicians of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra will return to Buenos Aires’s Teatro Colón for performances with co-founder Daniel Barenboim and legendary pianist Martha Argerich, and embark on a tour to the leading music festivals of Europe.

Explore the performances here.

Following last summer’s sold-out, inaugural Festival de Música y Reflexión at the Teatro Colón, the West-Eastern Divan will return to the historic Argentinian theatre for a series of concerts (24 July – 8 August, 2015) that spotlights the music of Pierre Boulez, Richard Wagner, and Béla Bartók, Piotr Tchaikovsky, and Arnold Schönberg.

A highlight of the orchestra’s Buenos Aires performances will include concerts at the city’s Islamic Center (1 August), Libertad Temple (5 August), and Metropolitan Cathedral (6 August). The performances will be free of charge.

The Teatro Colón residency will also include a special chamber concert comprising Arab and Iranian music, as well as a Reflection Symposium that sees orchestra co-founder Daniel Barenboim in conversation with former Spanish prime minister Felipe González. From Argentina, the West-Eastern Divan travel to Europe, where they appear at the Salzburg Festival (12, 13 & 14 August), Waldbühne Berlin (15 August) and Lucerne Festival (16 & 17 August). The summer tour concludes with a special appearance at the BBC Proms in London (18), featuring Schönberg’s Chamber Symphony No. 1, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4, and Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with violinist Guy Braunstein, cellist Kian Soltani, and Barenboim at the piano.

Learn more about the 2015 performances.

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  • Das Waldbühnenkonzert
    Manuel Vaca
  • Das Waldbühnenkonzert

Das Waldbühnenkonzert

On 15 August, 2015, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra returns to the Waldbühne Berlin, continuing their annual tradition with a spectacular open-air concert on the forest stage. Divan co-founder Daniel Barenboim joins the orchestra as pianist and conductor in Beethoven’s Triple Concerto for violin, cello and piano. Barenboim also leads the ensemble in Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony.

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  • Barenboim-Said Akademie celebrates topping out ceremony

Barenboim-Said Akademie celebrates topping out ceremony Barenboim-Said Akademie celebrates topping out ceremony Barenboim-Said Akademie celebrates topping out ceremony Barenboim-Said Akademie celebrates topping out ceremony

On Monday, June 15, at a topping out ceremony for its future home in Berlin, the Barenboim-Said Akademie celebrated its imminent opening later this year as a degree-conferring training center for young musicians from the Middle East. The Akademie expands upon the work of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, an experiment in coexistence co-founded by pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim and the literary scholar and public intellectual Edward Said in 1999.

 

The Akademie—which features a new 620-seat concert hall, the Pierre Boulez Hall, designed by Frank Gehry—will be housed in the former stage depot of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, a designated landmark building. Up to 90 young students from the Middle East—invited on scholarship—will be enrolled in a four-year bachelor degree program in music, with a curriculum rooted in both music and the humanities.
On Monday, June 15, at a topping out ceremony for its future home in Berlin, the Barenboim-Said Akademie celebrated its imminent opening later this year as a degree-conferring training center for young musicians from the Middle East. The Akademie expands upon the work of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, an experiment in coexistence co-founded by pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim and the literary scholar and public intellectual Edward Said in 1999.

 

The Akademie—which features a new 620-seat concert hall, the Pierre Boulez Hall, designed by Frank Gehry—will be housed in the former stage depot of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, a designated landmark building. Up to 90 young students from the Middle East—invited on scholarship—will be enrolled in a four-year bachelor degree program in music, with a curriculum rooted in both music and the humanities.
On Monday, June 15, at a topping out ceremony for its future home in Berlin, the Barenboim-Said Akademie celebrated its imminent opening later this year as a degree-conferring training center for young musicians from the Middle East. The Akademie expands upon the work of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, an experiment in coexistence co-founded by pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim and the literary scholar and public intellectual Edward Said in 1999.

 

The Akademie—which features a new 620-seat concert hall, the Pierre Boulez Hall, designed by Frank Gehry—will be housed in the former stage depot of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, a designated landmark building. Up to 90 young students from the Middle East—invited on scholarship—will be enrolled in a four-year bachelor degree program in music, with a curriculum rooted in both music and the humanities.
On Monday, June 15, at a topping out ceremony for its future home in Berlin, the Barenboim-Said Akademie celebrated its imminent opening later this year as a degree-conferring training center for young musicians from the Middle East. The Akademie expands upon the work of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, an experiment in coexistence co-founded by pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim and the literary scholar and public intellectual Edward Said in 1999.

 

The Akademie—which features a new 620-seat concert hall, the Pierre Boulez Hall, designed by Frank Gehry—will be housed in the former stage depot of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, a designated landmark building. Up to 90 young students from the Middle East—invited on scholarship—will be enrolled in a four-year bachelor degree program in music, with a curriculum rooted in both music and the humanities.
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  • Daniel Barenboim delivers 2015 Edward Said London Lecture

Daniel Barenboim delivers 2015 Edward Said London Lecture

In May 2015 at Queen Elizabeth Hall, Daniel Barenboim delivered the 2015 Edward Said London Lecture, discussing the role of music in society. Below is the full text of his lecture. You can watch video of the talk as well as the Q&A that followed here.

Dear public, dear guests,

I am thrilled to be here today to deliver the 2015 Edward W Said London Lecture. Today’s lecture takes place here at one of London’s most important musical venues, so it is fitting it should be about music which was one of Edward Said’s greatest passions in life.

Making music an essential part of social life has always been a key goal of mine. I deeply believe in the greater importance of music and in its ability to influence and shape who we are as human beings. Edward Said shared this belief and it was in this common spirit that, after years of friendship, we embarked on the adventure and incredible success story that is the West Eastern Divan Orchestra. As many of you know, we founded the orchestra together in 1999 and I have been proud to see it grow into one of the finest orchestras I have ever had the joy to conduct.

From the outset, our approach in our workshops and seminars has been a comprehensive one in that we focus on understanding what it means to listen to each other – both as musicians and as human beings. Learning to listen in that way sensitises us both for ourselves and the world around us. The imperative word here, however, is learning as basic education in music is the essential prerequisite to be able to understand music more comprehensively and let it play an important role in our lives.

Sadly, music instruction in schools everywhere has decreased sharply over recent decades – to the extent that an alarming percentage of children and teenagers get little or no music education. Music is often only an optional subject at secondary schools, there are not enough qualified teachers and music is often seen as the subject that can be cut from the curriculum if there is a shortage of teachers, since music is not one of the core subjects as maths, literature, science and foreign languages are. Yet a basic knowledge of music always used to be considered part of a well-rounded education, just like a basic knowledge of literature or maths. And the worst thing about the decline in recent years is that it affects European countries which have been known for their proud musical tradition, as reflected in the long list of important composers and musicians who form the basis of European music.

That is why I am calling for music once more to be taught in schools on a par with literature, mathematics or biology.

Not only so that listeners can have better auditory experiences later in life thanks to their schooling and also so we are guaranteed educated audiences in the long term – although those are extremely desirable additional benefits. The big reason for raising the status of music in schools, in my opinion, is that music has to be considered one of the elemental components of human education, since it can be instrumental in significantly improving people’s quality of life.

The scientist Antonio Damasio has conducted studies that show that the human brain processes music in a very special way. He writes: “Auditory stimuli enter the brain at the stem, a location that gives them direct access to the areas of the brain that regulate vital functions, in particular those that enable us to have feelings and react emotionally. This anatomical peculiarity has created a special link between music and the most important life-regulating mechanisms – at an individual as well as social level.” The implication is that systematic exposure to music positively affects the development of the brain and is therefore extremely important for the neural maturation process, which is associated with sociability, general perceptiveness and intelligence.

This finding leads us to conclude that our brain, our IQ and our faculty for sensibility will all be improved if we have contact with music from an early age.
Music allows people to have different sensations simultaneously. That would be inconceivable without music. In and through music, grief and joy, for example, or loneliness and sociability can co-exist. Music can mean different things for different people and even different things for the same person at different times. This kind of contrapuntal experience is important for human existence – but would not be possible to the same extent if we did not have music. More than that: music can enrich our lives as it fosters the development of the finest human qualities in a collective situation.

Music, unlike sport, is not subject to the usual laws of competition; music has to function as a communal experience. The experiences I’ve had working with orchestras, in particular the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, confirm this assumption. The young musicians have an advanced knowledge of music, which means they are prepared to listen as a group and make music as a group, even in a very delicate and tricky social context.

In the process they have succeeded in overcoming supposed barriers. Music has taught them not only the possibility but the necessity to listen to other voices. Voices that are contrapuntal or commenting. This, in a certain way, is more important than the fundamental democratic right to vote. In music, every voice has a responsibility towards the other, in speed, dynamic and intensity. The difference between just producing beautiful sound and making music is that the latter means striving to create an organic whole of all the different elements, of one-ness. There should always be a connection between the different elements in music-making, not allowing any separation from the context.

Music is often seen as a way to escape the human condition: hearing music is meant to enable people to take time out from reality. But this is hearing without listening. While there is nothing inherently wrong with that approach, in my opinion, music should be giving us lessons for life as well as helping us to escape when necessary.

I myself have had the experience, as a youngster, of playing mature music like Beethoven’s later piano sonatas without having first come up against the slings and arrows of life. So my playing was not a product of my life experience. It’s the other way round: my musical experiences have shown me how to live my life. In the 21st century it is our job to get exactly this point across to people, to show them that they can use what music has taught them to help themselves to live their lives.

Music has a spiritual component that can be expressed only through a purely physical medium: sound. It is that combination of the spiritual and the physical that gives music its power of expression. That is why music should be taught first and foremost as a practical skill, for instance by means of group singing lessons and relaxed familiarisation with instruments, starting at a very early age. Our experience of practice in the Berlin music kindergarten, for example, shows that 80% of children who study music in a playful manner early on continue with it when they leave kindergarten.
This trend also creates the potential of developing new audiences for classical music, an important aspect in the ongoing debate about subsidies for music. Specifically, letting new audiences develop would create a fairer ratio between subsidies and the public whereas both government institutions and private donors are currently often criticised for subsidising an activity for a small elite. That has to change. Providing a solid foundation in music education to a greater part of the population will lead to a larger percentage of the population remaining interested in music later in their life. This makes the excuse that subsidies are elitist and too expensive invalid.

There are many instances of music instruction. They range from musical grammar schools such as the Bach Gymnasium in former East Germany and the classical schools of music to extra-curricular music activities, youth choruses and orchestras. What I would love to see in the future is a choir and an orchestra in every school. We have a long way to go in that direction, but we have to lay the foundation now for a system in which music forms part of the basic education of every child and teenager rather than being just an exotic subject for a few children. On the other hand, the fact that in music schools there is little to no instruction in other spiritual disciplines adds to music being perceived as an ivory tower. Music cannot be considered an abstract subject but requires as rich a supplementary education as possible because the associations necessary to value music need to be drawn from history, politics, or literature. It is the art of thinking in and with music. Maybe we could envisage, both for music and non-music schools, a new form of digital education initiative which would facilitate access and give every family and child the possibility of participating by giving them the feeling that they personally are included and not merely part of a multitude. This would significantly improve the quality of life for individuals and social groups across the world.

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  • Divan Orchestra to return to BBC Proms this summer

Divan Orchestra to return to BBC Proms this summer

The BBC Proms, a highlight of the summer music season, today announced that the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, led by its co-founder Daniel Barenboim, will return to London’s Royal Albert Hall on 18 August, 2015.

The orchestra will present a program that includes Arnold Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony, op. 9, Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony, and Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, with violinist Guy Braunstein, cellist Kian Soltani, and pianist Daniel Barenboim.

Reserve tickets for the Divan’s BBC Proms performances.

The Divan’s London concert will be the finale of their 2015 summer tour, which begins with a return to Buenos Aires, where the orchestra will be in residence and will give a variety of concerts from 24 July to 8 August, 2015. From Argentina, the West-Eastern Divan then travel to Europe, where they appear at the Salzburg Festival (12, 13 & 14 August), Waldbühne Berlin (15 August), Lucerne Festival (16 & 17 August), and finally to the BBC Proms on 18 August.

Performance calendar.

In 1999, Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said founded the West-Eastern Divan as a workshop for Israeli, Palestinian and other Arab musicians. Meeting in Weimar, Germany – a place where the humanistic ideals of the Enlightenment are overshadowed by the Holocaust – they materialized a hope to replace ignorance with education, knowledge and understanding; to humanize the other; to imagine a better future. Within the workshop, individuals who had only interacted with each other through the prism of war found themselves living and working together as equals.

As they listened to each other during rehearsals and discussions, they traversed deep political and ideological divides. Though this experiment in coexistence was intended as a one-time event, it quickly evolved into a legendary orchestra.

Learn more about the story and ideals of the West-Eastern Divan.

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  • West-Eastern Divan brings all-French program to Festtage concert in Berlin
    Monika Ritterhaus

West-Eastern Divan brings all-French program to Festtage concert in Berlin

In less than two weeks, the musicians of West-Eastern Divan Orchestra come together in Berlin for a performance at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden’s Festtage. The April 4 performance, led by co-founder Daniel Barenboim, sees the orchestra performing an all-French program that includes Claude Debussy’s Prelude à l’après-midi d’un faune and a selection of works by Maurice Ravel, which comprise his Rapsodie espagnole, Alborada del gracioso, Pavane pour une infante défunte, and Boléro.

The concert also pays homage to the legendary composer and conductor Pierre Boulez, whose Dérive II features on the program and who also celebrates his 90th birthday later this March.

Learn more & purchase tickets.

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  • On the horizon: Summer performances at Teatro Colón and European Music Festivals
  • On the horizon: Summer performances at Teatro Colón and European Music Festivals

On the horizon: Summer performances at Teatro Colón and European Music Festivals

For their 2015 summer workshop and concerts, the musicians of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra will return to Buenos Aires’s Teatro Colón for performances with co-founder Daniel Barenboim and legendary pianist Martha Argerich, and embark on a tour to the leading music festivals of Europe.

Explore the performances here.

Following last summer’s sold-out, inaugural Festival de Música y Reflexión at the Teatro Colón, the West-Eastern Divan will return to the legendary Argentinian theatre for a series of concerts (24 July – 8 August, 2015) that spotlights the music of Pierre Boulez, Richard Wagner, and Béla Bartók, Piotr Tchaikovsky, and Arnold Schönberg.

A highlight of the orchestra’s Buenos Aires performances will include concerts at the city’s Islamic Center (1 August), Libertad Temple (5 August), and Metropolitan Cathedral (6 August). The performances will be free of charge.

The Teatro Colón residency will also include a special chamber concert comprising Arab and Iranian music, as well as a Reflection Symposium that sees orchestra co-founder Daniel Barenboim in conversation with former Spanish prime minister Felipe González.

From Argentina, the West-Eastern Divan travel to Europe, where they appear at the Salzburg Festival (12, 13 & 14 August), Waldbühne Berlin (15 August) and Lucerne Festival (16 & 17 August).

Additional performances will be announced in the coming weeks.

Learn more about the 2015 performances.

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  • New Release: Music Video with Argerich & Barenboim

New Release: Music Video with Argerich & Barenboim

The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra’s performance with legendary pianists Martha Argerich & Daniel Barenboim is now available on video from iTunes.

Last year’s sold out Festival de Música y Reflexión​ at the Teatro Colón included a special encore: Schumann’s Andante and Variations for two pianos, two cellos and horn, Op. 46.

The extraordinary performance is now available as a music video worldwide on iTunes.

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  • January 2015 tour to Spain & France
    Manuel Vaca

January 2015 tour to Spain & France

The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra will tour Spain and France in January 2015. Discover programs & learn more and purchasing tickets here. 

The January performances begin on January 16, 2015 at the Gran Teatro de Córdoba, where the Divan, led by co-founder Daniel Barenboim, present a program comprising Claude Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, Pierre Boulez’s Dérive II, and selected works by Maurice Ravel: Rapsodie espagnoleAlborada del graciosoPavane pour une infante défunte, and Boléro. The orchestra takes this program to Madrid’s Auditorio Nacional de Música the following day on January 17. In Sevilla at the Teatro de la Maestranza on January 18, the Divan performs an all-Mozart program, which includes the Austrian composer’s overture to ​Le nozze di Figaro, Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra KV 314, and the Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in B-flat Major, KV 595. To round out their tour, the Divan appears at the newly opened Philharmonie de Paris on January 19, when they reprise their program of works by Debussy, Boulez, and Ravel.

Founded by Edward Said and Daniel Barenboim in 1999 as an experiment in coexistence, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra brings together musicians from Israel, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt – joined by a number of musicians from Iran, Turkey and Spain – to perform music and promote mutual understanding, non-violence and reconciliation. Originally created at the invitation of the Kunstfest Weimar and now based in Seville, Spain, the orchestra derives its name from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s collection of poems titled West-Eastern Divan, a central work in the evolution of the concept of world culture.

Explore the story of the orchestra here.

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