With these words Daniel Barenboim summarised the message of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony before directing the performance of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra at the BBC Proms in 2012.
The wonder of the Choral repeats itself once more under his baton, even more wondrous this time, for the presence of over a hundred artists from Israel, Palestine and other middle-eastern countries, jointly with the 200+ elements of the National Youth Choir of Great Britain and four fabulous soloists, all of whom represent the perfect harmony Beethoven had intended when he put the verses of Schiller’s poem about universal brother- and sisterhood into music, in the years of his tragic deafness, but maintaining his prodigious sense of hearing within himself .
|Ludwig van Beethoven|
Barenboim conducts with unusual inspiration and flare, combining force, rigour, levity and tenderness, like a loving father educating his children. Those attractive, concentrated young faces portray indeed universal harmony and love of one’s neighbour, merging their notes with those of the artists sitting next to them, and represent the invaluable prize of joint efforts towards a common cause. While their mates in the Middle East are brandishing submachine guns, hurling stones at each other or wearing explosive-filled belts, attempting to take as many “enemy” lives as possible in their perverse quest for glory, these young women and men use their bows, mallets and instruments to achieve the real glory, one that is the cause and the ultimate end of Joy.
Two men with a vision who could translate their dream into reality, Daniel Barenboim and the late American-Palestinian intellectual Edward Said founded the West-Eastern Divan in 1999, and this is perhaps the first instance of peace in war. Music doesn’t kill; it is the universal language more than any other and promotes hope and love.
I know it is long, but I would like you to watch and listen to this video of Beethoven’s masterpiece, to me the absolute pinnacle of all forms of art; I promise you a unique experience. This highly symbolic event has really filled my soul with beauty, hope and joy.