№ 272/2013 from Sep 18, 2013
The world-renowned pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim has been selected to receive the Freedom Award of Freie Universität Berlin. University officials stated that Barenboim was chosen for this accolade in recognition of his commitment to dialogue in the Middle East. In particular, in the belief that art can overcome barriers, Barenboim, along with the late Palestinian literary scholar Edward Said founded the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. Founded in 1999, the orchestra brings together young musicians from Israel, the Palestinian territories, and Arab countries to promote dialogue and mutual listening by playing music together. The orchestra’s annual international concert tours encounter extremely receptive audiences. The award ceremony will take place on October 23, 2013. The laudation will be delivered by the famed sociologist, writer, and professor emeritus of Freie Universität, Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Wolf Lepenies, who himself was honored with the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in 2006. The event is public, admission is free.
Daniel Barenboim, born in 1942 in Buenos Aires and the son of Russian Jewish parents, is one of the most renowned musicians of our time. A pianist and conductor, he has been performing on the great stages of the world since the age of ten. London, Paris, Chicago, Bayreuth, and Milan are just a few of the cities where he has been enthusiastically acclaimed. Since 1992, Barenboim has been the music director of the Berlin State Opera (Staatsoper Unter den Linden) in his adopted hometown of Berlin. Many of his musical recordings have won awards. In addition, he is the recipient of numerous prestigious honors, including the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Grand Merit Cross with Star and Sash.
Barenboim is the author of several books and has given a series of talks and lectures at, among others, Columbia University in New York and as the Charles Eliot Norton Professor at Harvard University. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Oxford University. In addition to his own performing, Barenboim is very involved in fostering young talent. Based on his initiative, a nursery school with special emphasis on music was set up in Berlin in 2005. Barenboim, a United Nations Messenger of Peace, is committed to music education in the Palestinian territories, where he initiated the construction of conservatories of music. His latest project is the Barenboim-Said Academy, which is scheduled to start operating in 2015 in Berlin. Young people from Israel and the Arab countries will be given scholarships to pursue their music education.
With the Freedom Award, Freie Universität honors persons who served freedom in a political, social, or academic context. Two traditions come together in this award: the vision of freedom, which goes back to the university’s founding history, and the international orientation of Freie Universität. The previous Freedom Award winners are the former UN High Commissioner and former Irish President Mary Robinson, the South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Polish Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, and the former President of the Republic of Korea and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kim Dae-jung.