Debate: Music or Daniel?

Updated Thursday 29th June 2006

Community visitor Agnes Kory started a debate on the 2006 Reith Lectures, suggesting that the lecturer might have been more interested in himself than in his subject.

Detail of a harp Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Jupiter Images

The current series of Reith Lectures delivered by Daniel Barenboim is supposed to be about Barenboim’s views on music. But these lectures in reality are about Daniel Barenboim. Notwithstanding the questions allegedly raised by Reith Lecture audiences as well as the spirited discussion on the BBC’s Reith webpage, the main issue is surely not concerned with the points raised by Maestro Barenboim but with the Maestro himself.

Daniel Barenboim is a musical genius, a rarity. Great many of his musical performances attest to this supposition. His musical memory is unbeatable, his energy is endless. The Maestro is on the very top of the music profession, both in terms of achievement and in acknowledgement. But, evidently, Daniel Barenboim is driven for even more acknowledgement, more control and more power than what is possible within the world of professional music.

The introduction to each of Barenboim’s Reith Lectures states: St John said, "In the beginning was the word", while Goethe claimed that, "In the beginning was the deed". But in these lectures Daniel Barenboim's contention is that: “In the beginning was sound.”

In other words, Barenboim is not only in a league with St John and Goethe but he is above them. Even if he fails to convince us with his arguments, by the fifth lecture this St John-Goethe-Barenboim line will be ingrained in the public.

The lectures are attended by celebrities (though Chicago was not as spectacular as London). The important aspect here is to demonstrate that celebrities flock to learn from the Master. It so happens that in some cases these celebrities are not interested in their own questions, in other cases they are more qualified to lecture rather than question the Maestro.

Barenboim’s cherry-picked West-Eastern Divan Orchestra - consisting of talented, young and privileged (that is educated) musicians from various Arab countries and Israel – is not only not a solution/help for the Israel/Palestinian conflict but it is an insult to all those Palestinian and Israeli people who have been working tirelessly for decades on the ground to bring about peace. Residing in Germany – as Barenboim does - and delivering occasional high profile, televised concert tours with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra seems a long way from the realities of the conflict on the ground. Indeed; Barenboim’s attitude to Palestinians and Israelis is unacceptably patronising.

The theatrically staged five-city tour of the Reith Lectures and the televised tours with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra will keep and raise Barenboim’s profile outside the world of professional music but they will contribute neither to profound scholarship on music nor, indeed, to peace in the Middle-East.

 

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?

Other content you may like

Point for debate - Classical elitism Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Jupiter Images article icon

History & The Arts 

Point for debate - Classical elitism

Does Reith 2006 lecturer Daniel Barenboim do himself a disservice when he fails to relate to music outside his field, wondered community user Alasdair Codona.

Article
Debate: Musical education Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Jupiter Images article icon

History & The Arts 

Debate: Musical education

Forum member MissTambourine was inspired by the 2006 Reith Lectures - but wondered if music gets the attention it deserves.

Article
Reith 2006: Points for debate Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

Reith 2006: Points for debate

How does music make sense of our world? Richard Langham Smith discusses Daniel Barenboim's 2006 Reith Lectures

Article
OU on the BBC: Mark Steel Lectures - Chaplin Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

OU on the BBC: Mark Steel Lectures - Chaplin

Find out more about Charlie Chaplin in this programme from the BBC/OU Mark Steel Lectures.

Article
20th century composers: making the connections Creative commons image Icon The Open University under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 license activity icon

History & The Arts 

20th century composers: making the connections

Explore the world of 20th century classical and avant-garde music through the composers and the fascinating connections that exist between them.

Activity

History & The Arts 

Learning to Groove

Learning to Groove tells the story of the Tomorrow’s Warriors band as its young musicians learn the art of jazz. Jason Toynbee, leader of the What Is Black British Jazz research project at The Open University explains how this informal type of music education is playing an important and alternative role. Jazz musician Gary Crosby and his partner Janine Irons share their story of how they set up the band and why they feel so passionate about giving opportunities to inner city children to learn how to play jazz and to guide them on their way to future success in the music industry. We also hear personal stories from members of the Tomorrow’s Warriors projects, who share their love of jazz and the importance of getting in the groove.

Audio
20 mins
Keeping the spark of the 60s alive: Neil Young and a sense of place Creative commons image Icon Takahiro Kyono under CC-BY licence under Creative-Commons license article icon

History & The Arts 

Keeping the spark of the 60s alive: Neil Young and a sense of place

A new book argues that Neil Young has more to offer the 21st Century than, for example, Bob Dylan.

Article
Free course: Understanding musical scores Creative commons image Icon Jon Jablonsky under CC-BY-NC-ND licence under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 license article icon

History & The Arts 

Free course: Understanding musical scores

OpenLearn is a fantastic place to gain understanding of what to expect from Open University study; trying a free course, such as From Notation to Performance: Understanding Musical Scores is a great start.

Article
What you listen to shows how you think Creative commons image Icon Tejastheory under CC-BY-SA licence under Creative-Commons license article icon

History & The Arts 

What you listen to shows how you think

New research suggests that your choice of music might show how you think.

Article