Meet The Performers


Daniel Barenboim

Born November 15, 1942, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

CSO Music Director (1991-2006)

Throughout a remarkable international career spanning more than five decades, Daniel Barenboim, ninth music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, has established himself as one the finest concert pianists, conductors, and chamber musicians in the world today.

Mr. Barenboim first conducted the CSO in 1970. Over the course of his more than thirty-year collaboration with the Orchestra, he has appeared frequently in Chicago as conductor, orchestra soloist, and recitalist.

Daniel Barenboim was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1942. When he was five years old, he began his first piano lessons with his mother, continuing with his father, who remained his only other teacher. In August 1950, when the young artist was just seven, he gave his first official concert in Buenos Aires.

Mr. Barenboim received his general education in Israel, where his family moved in 1952. Artur Rubinstein and Adolf Busch, who had already made great impressions on him in Argentina, as well as Edwin Fischer and Wilhelm Furtwängler, whom he met in Salzburg, became important influences in his development as a musician. He also attended Igor Markevitch's conducting classes in Salzburg and studied harmony and composition with Nadia Boulanger in Paris.

Mr. Barenboim made his debut as a pianist in Vienna and Rome in 1952, in Paris in 1955, in London in 1956, in New York in 1957 with Leopold Stokowski, and in Chicago in 1958. From then on, he made annual concert tours of the United States and Europe. He toured Australia in 1958 and soon became known as one of the most versatile pianists of his generation. His recording activities as a pianist began in 1954 and, during the 1960s, he recorded the Beethoven piano concertos with Klemperer, the Brahms concertos with Barbirolli, and all the Mozart concertos in the dual role of soloist and conductor with the English Chamber Orchestra.

During the same period, Mr. Barenboim started to devote more time to conducting and, in 1965, he established a close relationship with the English Chamber Orchestra that was to last for more than a decade. Together they played innumerable concerts in England, the United States, and Japan. Mr. Barenboim made his conducting debut in London with the New Philharmonia Orchestra in 1967, Berlin in 1969, and in New York soon after that.

Daniel Barenboim has always been active as a chamber musician, with his late wife, cellist Jacqueline du Pré, and with Gregor Piatigorsky, Itzhak Perlman, and Pinchas Zukerman, among others. As a lieder accompanist, he has performed extensively with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.

Between 1968 and 1970, Mr. Barenboim served as artistic director of South Bank Music in London and, until 1973, also was director of the Israel Festival. From 1975 to 1989, Mr. Barenboim was music director of the Orchestre de Paris, placing special emphasis on contemporary music and giving performances of works by Lutoslawski, Berio, Boulez, Henze, and Dutilleux. He also founded the chorus of the Orchestre de Paris.

Daniel Barenboim first conducted opera at the Edinburgh Festival in 1972. He has been associated with the Bayreuth Festival since 1981, leading performances of Tristan and Isolde, Parsifal, and the complete Ring cycle. In 1982, Mr. Barenboim created a Mozart festival with the Orchestre de Paris, leading performances of The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte as well as concerts of the composer's orchestral works. In 1987, he led a new production of The Magic Flute that inaugurated the season of the newly restored Théâtre des Champs-Elysées.

Daniel Barenboim was appointed as music director designate of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1989 and began his tenure as music director in 1991. His music directorship was distinguished by the opening of Chicago's new Symphony Center in 1997, highly praised operatic productions at Orchestra Hall, numerous virtuoso appearances with the Orchestra in the dual role of pianist and conductor, twenty-one international tours, and a series of composer perspectives woven into the Orchestra's subscription series. In his seventeen years in Chicago, he ensured high quality orchestral playing by the CSO, overseeing the appointment of forty musicians to the ranks of the Orchestra, including nine in principal positions. In 1995, he named Pierre Boulez to the position of Principal Guest Conductor. A champion of music of our time, Mr. Barenboim led world premiere performances of more than twenty new works during his time in Chicago. His tenure was also marked by a dedication to the next generation of orchestral musicians through his advocacy of the Civic Orchestra program.

Throughout the year 2000, Mr. Barenboim commemorated fifty years of professional performance on the stage with worldwide celebrations and performances in Chicago, New York, Berlin, and Buenos Aires. In New York, Carnegie Hall honored this special anniversary by presenting fifteen concerts and The Daniel Barenboim Workshop for Pianists and Conductors throughout the year 2000 as part of the Perspectives: Daniel Barenboim series.

Mr. Barenboim is General Music Director of the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin for life. In recent years, he has established close relationships with the Berlin Philharmonic and Vienna Philharmonic, with whom he often tours, and has maintained a busy schedule of performances, appearing in recitals and with orchestras worldwide.

Mr. Barenboim's extensive discography with the CSO on the Teldec label includes Richard Strauss' wind concertos; an all-Falla disc with Jennifer Larmore and Plácido Domingo; Tchaikovsky's symphonies nos. 4, 5, and 6; and Mahler's Symphony No. 5.

Please note: Biographies on the CSO website are based on the information that was most recently provided to the CSO by the artists or their representatives. More current information may be available on the artists' own websites or those of their representatives.