Barenboim and Said are major cultural figures and Edward Said's Orientalism and Culture and Imperialism are international bestsellers. With a preface by Ara Guzelimian
Edward W. Said was University Professor of English and Comparitive Literature at Columbia University and the author of twenty-one books including Orientalism, Culture and Imperialism and The End of the Peace Process. His books have been published in thirty-six languages. He died in 2003. Daniel Barenboim was born in Buenos Aires and grew up in Israel. He has been Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 1991 and of the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin since 1992. Barenboim began conducting with the New Philharmonic Orchestra in London in 1967 and was musical director of the Orchestre de Paris. He lives in Germany.
In 1995, during a Wagner conference at Columbia University, pianist/conductor Barenboim and literary scholar Said joined in a discussion before a live audience that touched on both Wagner's anti-Semitism and his pivotal position as a composer. The two, already good friends, so enjoyed the experience that they continued taping conversations privately and eventually brought in Carnegie artistic adviser Guzelimian to give some shape to the proceedings. The result is a thought-provoking book that ranges from the intricacies of performance (in which music is described arrestingly as a means of defying silence) to the need for an "artistic solution" to the Middle East crisis. Readers would probably benefit from some sense of the history of Western music, but the authors are successful in their aim to reach a larger audience and have done splendid job of reinvigorating the delicate task of talking about music. If, as Said observes, "[classical] music is losing its authority," perhaps the failure to discuss it both bracingly and embracingly is a main reason. This stimulating and enjoyable little book, the most underlined this reviewer has read since college, goes a long way toward redressing the balance. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/02.]-Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal" Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
'A beautifully poised series of dialogues about literature, music and politics, and they're a testimony to the enormous gifts and courage of both men' Tom Paulin, Guardian 'Without question, the most original book of the year. A marvellous eavesdrop on the discourse of exchange between two great intellects' Nadine Gordimer, TLS 'A fascinating exchange of ideas on music, politics and literature' Classic FM Magazine 'An extraordinary meeting of minds in troubled times' Financial Times
Renowned pianist and conductor Barenboim, currently general music director of the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin, comes from a Russian Jewish family transplanted to Argentina and Israel. Said (Orientalism), Columbia professor of English and comparative literature and an accomplished amateur pianist, is a Palestinian who grew up largely in Cairo in an anglicized Christian Arab family. Their differing but entwined histories have led to friendship and a number of public and private conversations about music, culture, politics and "the parallels as well as the paradoxes" of their lives. Edited by Guzelimian, Senior Director and Artistic Adviser of Carnegie Hall, these stimulating discussions-written in the form of three-way Q&A interviews-touch on the nature of sound, some of the similarities and differences between music and literature, performances and audiences, and the authenticity movement. The two agree on the importance of music in uniting people of conflicting political views, and in 1999 they collaborated in setting up the Weimar workshop, which brought together Arab, Israeli and German musicians to form an orchestra. The importance of setting aside national identity in favor of a larger ideal is stressed throughout the book. Barenboim shows himself to be unfazed by the recent controversies surrounding his work in Berlin and his determination to perform Wagner in Israel. Said remarks that in today's world, it has "become quite rare to project one's self outward, to have a broader perspective." These enlightening conversations show that Said and Barenboim are able to do just that. (Oct.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.