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Classical Music

Israeli pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim wins German peace prize

Acclaimed musician and peace activist Daniel Barenboim has been awarded this year’s Westphalian Peace Prize along with his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.

Conductor and orchestra during concert

Argentinian born Maestro Daniel Barenboim conducts the West-Eastern-Divan Orchestra.

The Westphalian Peace Prize, which is awarded every two years, has been given to Barenboim for his work with young musicians across the Middle East. The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra was founded by Barenboim and the late American-Palestinian academic Edward Said in 1999 and is made up of musicians from Israel, Palestine, Iran and neighbouring Arab countries.

Barenboim says that he hopes to have created an orchestra that is not only worth listening to, but also "shows that people who listen to each other, both musically and in all other ways, can achieve greater things."

Daniel Barenboim, an Israeli conductor and virtuoso pianist, was born in Argentina in 1942 to parents of Russian Jewish descent, before moving to Israel at the age of 10. He provoked controversy in 2001 after breaking a virtual ban on the playing of Wagner, Hitler's favourite composer, at a concert in Jerusalem. Barenboim is currently conducting Wagner's "Das Rheingold" at the Schiller Theater in Berlin.

Concert in Ramallah

Playing for peace at a concert in Ramallah in 2005.

The prestigious award commemorates the signing of the Westphalian treaties in October 1648 after thirty years of war. This marked the first time in European history that a war ended through modern diplomatic negotiation.

The prize will be awarded on the 30th October in Muenster's so-called "Peace Hall", which despite its name, did not house the signing of the treaties in 1648. The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra will perform at the prize ceremony.

Barenboim also picks up 50,000 euros ($70,000) prize money.

Author: Naomi Scherbel-Ball

Editor: Neale Lytollis

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