Thursday, 11 August 2011

Daniel Barenboim Nobel Peace Prize?

Daniel Barenboim has been nominated by the Argentine Government for a Nobel Peace Prize. This should be controversial, as the problems in the Middle East are pretty much intractable. No-one's going to solve anything for a long time. But Barenboim and his friend, the late Edward Said, a Palestinian Christian, had ideals. If people's hearts and minds can be changed, maybe there's a smidgen of hope. Goethe was their inspiration. Thus the choice of Weimar as neutral ground, bringing young people together from all over the Middle East to work together on music, which is non-political and non-partisan. These musicians, though young, are chosen for ability, and work with experienced mentors and musicians. So intense are the pressures on these young players that publicity can put them in danger. In any case, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra is about the experience of being together. Sometimes, you'd think, when people can't get food, medicines or safety, why invest in music?  But for some of these players, committment to music is as necessary as life. Given the extreme conditions under which some of them live, their very involvement involves an element of courage. And Barenboim himself, too, who doesn't need to prove anything artistically.  He's achieved so much already, he doesn't need money or image, but I think he's acutely aware that idealism is more important.  His books are a turgid read, but his heart is in the right place. (Said was a better writer, it was his job.) Barenboim doesn't run from controversy because he has integrity.  If Barenboim does win the Nobel Prize, he'll come under pressure, but that's all the more reason to respect him.

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