- West-Eastern Divan Orchestra
- Barenboim-Said Akademie, Berlin
- Pierre Boulez Saal, Berlin
- Barenboim-Said Music Center, Ramallah
- Musikkindergarten Berlin
- The Musical School
The Daniel Barenboim Stiftung (foundation) is the umbrella organization for the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra and the Barenboim-Said Akademie with the Pierre Boulez Saal in Berlin.
Its major activities include the management of all aspects of the international tours of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, various music, and education projects primarily in the Middle East—such as the Barenboim-Said Music Center in Ramallah—as well as individual grant programs.
For more than 20 years, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra has been a significant presence on the international music scene. In 1999, Daniel Barenboim and the late Palestinian literary scholar Edward W. Said created an orchestra to promote dialogue between the different cultures of the Middle East through music-making and co-existence. They named the orchestra and workshop after Goethe’s collection of poetry West-östlicher Divan, a central work for the development of the concept of world culture.
The first rehearsal sessions took place in Weimar and Chicago. An equal number of Israeli and Arab musicians form the base of the orchestra, together with a group of Turkish, Iranian, and Spanish members. They meet each summer for a workshop, where rehearsals are complemented by lectures and discussions and followed by an international tour.
The project has proved time and again that music can break down barriers previously considered insurmountable. The only political aspect that prevails in the work of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra is the conviction that there is no military solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict and that the destinies of Israelis and Palestinians are inextricably linked. Through its work and existence, the orchestra demonstrates that bridges can be built to encourage people to listen to the narrative of others.
While music alone cannot resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict, it grants the individual the right and the obligation to express him- or herself fully while listening to their neighbor. Based on this notion of equality, co-operation, and justice for all, the orchestra represents an alternative model to the current situation in the Middle East.
The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra’s repertoire extends beyond symphonic works to include opera and chamber music. Concert highlights include performances at the most prestigious venues and festivals in Europe, Asia, and North and South America. In addition to these appearances, one of the orchestra’s central goals is to perform in the home countries of its members. Concerts in Rabat, Doha, and Abu Dhabi, as well as the emblematic concert in Ramallah in 2005 have been steps towards fulfilling this aspiration. In October 2015, the orchestra performed at the UN Headquarters in Geneva. Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon named Daniel Barenboim a UN Messenger of Peace in September 2007 and designated the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra a UN Global Advocate for Cultural Understanding in February 2016. The orchestra has released a number of highly acclaimed CDs and DVDs.
Since 2015, talented young musicians from the Middle East, North Africa, and other countries have been studying at the Barenboim-Said Akademie, a new institution of higher music education in Berlin. Regular teaching activities for up to 90 students began in the fall of 2016 with a four-year bachelor program that includes a stronger focus on the Humanities and musicology than is common in professional music education.
The Barenboim-Said Akademie’s central idea is expressed in a spirit of inclusion and diversity: through playing and listening, students learn to accept differences, to engage in discussion with an open mind and an open heart, and to discover the humanistic ideals of the Enlightenment. The Akademie, which shares its building with the Pierre Boulez Saal, is dedicated to the pedagogical spirit of Edward W. Said and Daniel Barenboim, which tries to overcome ideological trenches. With its unique, innovative academic offerings, the Akademie keeps alive a dialogue that stands up to the political upheaval of the contemporary world.
Designed by architect Frank Gehry and acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota, the Pierre Boulez Saal opened in March 2017. It is part of the Barenboim-Said Akademie and housed in a former set storage building of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden. An ellipse-shaped, modular space in which sound and architecture blend in a unique way, the new concert hall in the heart of Berlin offers almost unlimited possibilities to experience music—from solo works to chamber music in all its forms to orchestral repertoire, from the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic eras to 20th-century classics and world premieres.
The idea of “Music for the Thinking Ear” serves as a motto, inspired by the limitless artistic curiosity of Pierre Boulez. It is most directly expressed in the concerts of the Boulez Ensemble, which was founded by Daniel Barenboim. In addition to chamber music from the 18th to the 21st centuries, music from the Middle East and Northern Africa as well as jazz form major parts of the program.
Through a variety of musical offerings, the Barenboim-Said Music Center in Palestine encourages and educates young Palestinians with the goal of developing their artistic talents and personal growth. By providing a top-level musical education, the Barenboim-Said Center hopes to provide a path forward for its students to continue their studies abroad at higher institutions of music education. Qualified graduates will have the opportunity to continue their studies at the Barenboim-Said Akademie in Berlin.
The Barenboim-Said Center, as an independent Palestinian entity, offers a curriculum of eight years intended to train and prepare its students to continue professional studies in music. Students enrolled at the Center receive rigorous music lessons in individual instruments, voice, music theory, chamber music, choir, and orchestra. The Center currently offers three programs: a conservatory, a school/kindergarten program, and orchestral training via membership in the Filasteen Young Musicians Orchestra (FYMO). The orchestra consists of young students from the Barenboim-Said Center and Palestinian musicians from the area as well as the diaspora.
While other organizations in the area also offer projects related to music, the Barenboim-Said [Music] Center is focused on the development of young musicians so that they can take part in an open dialogue with others around the world, based on the values of humanism, excellence in music, and mutual respect. The Barenboim-Said Center is also committed to empowering young Palestinians by providing performance opportunities throughout Palestine. The Center collaborates with several major institutions and presenters in the area, while the FYMO has performed all over Palestine, as well as in Spain, Austria, Jordan, and Turkey.
The Barenboim-Said Center is convinced that the essence of a good education is humanistic and that musical excellence is only achieved through discipline, perseverance, and focus. To enroll at the Center as an aspiring young musician is to understand that the opportunity to excel depends on each individual student’s dedication and commitment to their art.
The Musikkindergarten Berlin was founded on the initiative of Daniel Barenboim together with the musicians of the Staatskapelle Berlin. Its activities place special emphasis on conveying musical abilities to children, in addition to providing them with a grounded, creative, holistic, varied, and aesthetically stimulating environment in their early years.
The musical dimension of the kindergarten includes not only giving youngsters a chance to come into contact with a wide range of musical instruments but also teaching them in a playful way to develop a feeling for rhythm, to learn the art of listening, and to develop motor skills through dance and creative movement. In short, the goal is to provide children with an opportunity to experience their awakening senses. The kindergarten incorporates aspects of the performing and fine arts into virtually all areas of early-childhood education. Music and art become an integral part of the children’s daily lives. The staff of professional caregivers has received special training in incorporating music into all areas of their work. The team receives support through regular visits from Daniel Barenboim and members of the Staatskapelle Berlin and the Staatsoper Chorus.
Humans are musical beings, therefore their education cannot take place without music. Under the working title "Musical School", a separate design for a general education school is being developed, at which each student will receive a holistic musical education in addition to the normal curriculum, including individual lessons on a musical instrument, ensemble playing and the interdisciplinary study of music as a central component of social education. Daily music-making adds rhythm to the school day, creates balance, is fun and motivates. Above all, however, all students at the Musical School are optimally supported in their intellectual, social and emotional development. They specifically practice key competencies such as active listening, non-verbal communication, interaction in complex contexts, empathy, impulse control and the recognition of overriding principles, and they experience cultural diversity as a richness and global musical life as a unifying element. With all the means at the disposal of the network of associated partners, the Barenboim-Said Academy, West-Eastern Divan Orchestra and Pierre Boulez Saal, the school community is connected to the cultural life of the city. Families and teachers are introduced to attending concerts and musicians regularly present their instruments and the music they are working on at school.
The idea of the Musical School has existed as a pilot project since 2018 at the Berlin Cosmopolitan School, founded in 2004. As an internationally oriented school in which the musical education of over 820 students of 54 different nationalities is centrally anchored, the school has become an important partner for the Daniel Barenboim Stiftung.