(K. Brent Tomer),
IN JUNE 1998 Bernd Kaufmann, then general manager for event planning in Weimar, the “European Capital of Culture” in 1999, invited Daniel Barenboim to perform. Initially Mr Barenboim said no: he was already fully occupied as pianist, director of the Berlin State Opera, and conductor of the Staatskappelle Berlin and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. But when Mr Neumann persisted, underlining the importance of Weimar as the town of Goethe and Schiller and the cradle of German democracy, as well as the place of Buchenwald, a former Nazi concentration camp. Mr Barenboim was convinced.
Their idea was to resume the dialogue between Occident and Orient found in Goethe’s “West Eastern Divan”, a collection of poems inspired by Hafez, a Persian poet. Messrs Barenboim and Kaufmann wanted to stage a chamber concert with the equal number of young Israeli and Palestinian musicians. Mr Barenboim asked his friend Edward Said, a Palestinian-American scholar of literature, to help him find young talented Arab musicians. Thirty-five Palestinian musicians where chosen out of more than 200 applicants for the first joint Israeli-Palestinian workshop. 60% of the musicians had never played in…Continue reading