Daniel Barenboim, one of the outstanding musical figures of our time, was born in Buenos Aires to parents of Russian-Jewish descent. He began piano lessons at the age of five with his mother, continued musical studies with his father, and gave his first official concert in Buenos Aires when he was seven. In 1952, the family moved to Israel, and two years later his parents took Daniel to Salzburg to take part in Igor Markevitch’s conducting classes. In 1955 and 1956, he studied harmony and composition with Nadia Boulanger in Paris.
Following his debut in Vienna and Rome in 1952, Barenboim soon became known as one of the most versatile pianists of his generation. Major debuts followed in Paris (1955), London (1956) and New York (1957), where he performed with Leopold Stokowski. His recording career began in 1954. In the 1960s, he set down the Beethoven concertos with Otto Klemperer, the Brahms concertos with Sir John Barbirolli, and, as both pianist and conductor, all the Mozart with the English Chamber Orchestra. Always active as a chamber musician, he performed most frequently with his late wife, cellist Jacqueline du Pré, and violinists Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zukerman. In song recitals, he has accompanied such artists as Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Dame Janet Baker, Jessye Norman, Thomas Quasthoff, Anna Netrebko, Rolando Villazón, Jonas Kaufmann and Magdalena Kožená.
From the mid-1960s, Barenboim began to devote more time to conducting. From 1975 to 1989 he was chief conductor of the Orchestre de Paris, with whom he often performed contemporary works by composers such as Lutosławski, Berio, Boulez, Henze, Dutilleux and Takemitsu. In 1973 he made his opera debut at the Edinburgh Festival and in 1981 his debut at the Bayreuth Festival, where over 18 consecutive summers he conducted Tristan und Isolde, the Ring, Parsifal and Die Meistersinger. In 1991, he succeeded Solti as music director of the Chicago Symphony and in 2006 was named “honorary conductor for life”. In 1992, he became general music director of Berlin’s Deutsche Staatsoper, and in 2000, the Berlin Staatskapelle appointed him “chief conductor for life”. He also appears regularly with the Berliner Philharmoniker and the Wiener Philharmoniker, with whom he led the 2009 and 2014 New Year’s Concerts.
In 2007, Barenboim began a close relationship with the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, where he conducts opera and concerts as well as playing chamber music. In 2011 he was appointed music director of the legendary Milan institution. Both there and in Berlin, beginning in 2010, he has conducted Guy Cassier’s new staging of the Ring (he also conducted the complete cycle with the Berlin Staatskapelle during the 2013 BBC Proms at London’s Albert Hall). With the Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala his projects have included the Verdi Requiem in Milan and on tour to the Lucerne and Salzburg festivals and the Berlin Philharmonie, as well as at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, where he also conducted Don Giovanni with the Scala forces….