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Daniel Barenboim: Pianist, Conductor and Activist

Argentinian Daniel Barenboim is a pianist – he is considered one of the greatest alive — and the general music director of La Scala in Milan, the Berlin State Opera and the Staatskapelle Berlin.He has been director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestre de Paris.

Barenboim has won many awards and is a political figure as well. Wikipedia says that he leads the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, which features young Arab and Israeli musicians. He is a critic of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.

AllMusic’s profile by Joseph Stevenson highlights Barenboim’s story. He was born to Ukrainian Jewish parents in Buenos Aries in 1942. His family was musical: Barenboim’s mother was his first piano teacher his father was an eminent music professor. He was a prodigy to whom experts paid attention when he was as young as seven years old. The family moved to Israel in 1952, though Barenboim returned to study music in Europe.

The profiles describe the many honors he has won. Stevenson says that as a pianist, Barenboim tends to focus on Mozart, Beethoven and the early Romantics. As a conductor, he favors Brahms, Bruckner and later Romantic composers.

There are many good videos of Barenboim. Many of them are long, and they are about evenly split between conducting and his work as a pianist. Above, Barenboim plays “La Danza de La Moza Donosa” by Alberto Ginestera and below is the Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Wikipedia and AllMusic were used to write the post.

Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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