Blasphemy on Barenboim?
Blasphemy on Barenboim?

Blasphemy on Barenboim?

The recent press coverage of Daniel Barenboim‘s leadership style is somewhat surprising to me. An article in VAN Magazin implicitly claims to reveal truths or new ›insights‹ into Berlin’s classical music scene, while other commenters play down the issue, purport that the discussion has only just begun, or even defend Barenboim in the sense of an outdated cult of genius. However, I am pretty sure that anybody involved with Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Staatskapelle Berlin, or Barenboim-Said Akademie could tell similar stories as anonymously reported in VAN. It is obvious here that somebody possesses too much power—but the main problem is not Barenboim himself but the system that empowered him, provided him with enormous amounts of money, paid court to him for decades, and allowed him to take control of three public institutions. Barenboim must doubtlessly be blamed for creating suppressive working conditions and for establishing feudalistic structures in his environment. Still, the responsibility for these maldevelopments lies with the German government and Berlin Senate who continue to afford an alleged world-class conductor at any cost, as a beacon figure to make the Staatsoper great again. The current criticism seems fair enough, but is pointless as long as large parts of Berlin’s cultural politics hinge so much on Barenboim. His case is only a symptom of the corrupted classical music business which appears, in institutions as well as in education, essentially based on hierarchy, authority, and exercise of power.

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