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.