About the Barenboim-Said Akademie
In 1999, Daniel Barenboim and the American-Palestinian literary scholar Edward W. Said founded the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra in Weimar, Germany. The orchestra unites young Arab and Israeli musicians. Its name invokes J. W. Goethe’s late, lyrical work, which reflects the German poet’s admiration for the classical Persian love poems of Hafez, as well as his study of Islamic culture over many years: “God’s land is the Orient!/ God’s land is the Occident!/Northern like as Southern lands / Rest in peace between God’s hands.”
Starting in 2015, an extraordinary music academy in Berlin, the Barenboim-Said Akademie, will begin training young musicians from the Middle East, invited here on scholarships, in the spirit of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. The academy will be housed in the former stage depot of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, a designated landmark building. Up to 90 young students from the Middle East will be enrolled in a four-year bachelor degree program in music, with a curriculum rooted in both music and the humanities. Daniel Barenboim will be in charge of the academic and musical direction of the academy.
The Barenboim-Said Akademie will include a new 620-seat concert hall, the Pierre Boulez Hall, designed by Frank Gehry. The world-famous American architect has donated his work as a contribution to the project.
Construction work began in 2014. The federal government of Germany is supporting the project by underwriting construction costs and subsidies to its educational budget. Among the Barenboim-Said Akademie’s first donors is the Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, who contributed the substantial proceeds of an honorary award he received to the academy. Other donors have already made significant contributions to the project.
Michael Naumann, former minister of culture of the Federal Government of Germany, is acting CEO of the Academy.
Edward W. Said
was born in 1935 in Jerusalem, was raised in Cairo, and studied in the United States at Princeton and Harvard. In 1963, he began his teaching career at Columbia University in New York, where he held the preeminent position of University Professor of English and Comparative Literature until his death in 2003. He wrote more than 20 books, which have been translated into 30 languages. His ground-breaking work “Orientalism” opened up new horizons in the study of post-colonialism. Said was active in the editorial committees of numerous magazines and journals and lectured at more than 200 universities in North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. A gifted pianist, he also was the music critic for The Nation for many years. In the political sphere, he was a major voice on the situation in Palestine and an unflinching proponent of justice and self-determination for all. Edward Said was the president of the Modern Language Association as well as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Society of Literature, the American Philosophical Society, and Honorary Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge. He also was a member of the executive board of PEN International until 1998.
Since Edward Said’s death, his widow Mariam C. Said has been actively involved in the running of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra as the Vice President of the Barenboim-Said Foundation USA.
“Separation between peoples is not a solution for any of the problems that divide peoples. And certainly ignorance of the other provides no help whatever. Cooperation and coexistence of the kind that music lived as we have lived, performed, shared and loved it together, might be.”
“Humanism is the only, and I would go as far as to say the final resistance we have against the inhuman practices and injustices that disfigure human history.”