Arab-Israeli Harmony in Berlin

Said and BarenboimSource: The Barenboim-Said Music Academy

In 1999, Daniel Barenboim (pictured on the right) and the American-Palestinian literary scholar Edward W. Said, who died in 2003, founded the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra in Weimar, Germany. The orchestra unites young Arab and Israeli musicians. Its name invokes Goethe’s late, lyrical work, which reflects the German poet’s admiration for the classical Persian love poems of Hafez, as well as his study of Islamic culture over many years.

Starting in 2015, an extraordinary music academy in Berlin, the Barenboim-Said Akademie, began training young musicians from the Middle East, invited on scholarships, in the spirit of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.

The academy is 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 are enrolled in a four-year bachelor degree program in music, with a curriculum rooted in both music and the humanities. Daniel Barenboim is in charge of the academic and musical direction of the academy.

The Barenboim-Said Akademie will include a new 620-seat concert hall, the Pierre Boulez Hall, designed by Frank Gehry. The Canadian-born architect has donated his work as a contribution to the project.

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2 responses to “Arab-Israeli Harmony in Berlin

  1. What a pleasure to read a good-news story on this fine day! I had no idea Goethe admired, or even knew, Hafez. I discovered Hafez only recently, by way of this gorgeous poem of his, entitled Tripping Over Joy, from a collection called I Heard God Laughing: Poems of Hope and Joy:

    What is the difference
    Between your experience of Existence
    And that of a saint?

    The saint knows
    That the spiritual path
    Is a sublime chess game with God

    And that the Beloved
    Has just made such a Fantastic Move

    That the saint is now continually
    Tripping over Joy
    And bursting out in Laughter
    And saying, “I Surrender!”

    Whereas, my dear,
    I am afraid you still think
    You have a thousand serious moves.

  2. Elisabeth Ecker

    Thanks for making my day. I needed some good news. Where there is music there is hope. I don’t know who said it, but it sounds good.