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Today, 19 August 2020, Daniel Barenboim celebrates the 70th anniversary of his stage debut. In his solo recital at the Großes Festspielhaus, he plays Beethoven’s monumental Diabelli Variations (33 Variations on a waltz by Anton Diabelli, Op. 120) as well as the composer’s Sonata for Piano No. 31 in A-flat major Op. 110. On 19 August 1950, he gave his first public concert in Buenos Aires at the age of 7, a recital of works by Beethoven and Prokofiev.

At the same time, Daniel Barenboim also celebrates the 55th anniversary of his Salzburg Festival debut. On 18 August 1965 Barenboim first performed at the Salzburg Festival – as the piano soloist in an orchestral concert of the Vienna Philharmonic under the baton of Zubin Mehta. Mozart’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in C minor was the featured work. “The young generation is claiming its place…”, the reviewer Erik Werba wrote on 20 August 1965, continuing: “The pianist Daniel Barenboim, a native of South America who has been living in Tel Aviv for quite some time now, is twenty-three years old and has recently caused a stir in Berlin, where he performed the solo part in Wilhelm Furtwängler’s Piano Concerto.”

Photo: Peter Adamik

However, the Argentinian’s talent was recognized much earlier, for the review goes on: “Daniel Barenboim gave his first solo recital in Vienna in 1953, as a ten-year-old boy wearing short pants. At the time, the music critic of the Wiener Zeitung spoke of this talent’s certain future, as he seemed not a child prodigy destined for the usual fade into oblivion, and made the following prediction: ‘We hope to hear this exceptional talent a dozen years from now at the Salzburg Festival.’ The twelve years have passed – Daniel Barenboim took his bows yesterday before an enthusiastic audience, thanking Mehta and the Vienna Philharmonic for a splendid cooperation.”

In 1990 Barenboim made his Salzburg Festival conducting debut with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, performing works by Arnold Schoenberg and Ludwig van Beethoven. Ever since, he has been a regular guest at the Salzburg Festival, leading a wide range of orchestras including the Staatskapelle Berlin and the Vienna Philharmonic. His West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, founded in 1999 and consisting in equal parts of Israeli and Arabic musicians, also has a strong presence on the annual Festival programme.

Markus Hinterhäuser, Artistic Director said,

“We are delighted that Daniel Barenboim has been part of the Salzburg Festival for 55 years. After all, he is incomparable – because of his musical and intellectual open-mindedness, his outstanding musicality and his social and political activism.”

Including tonight’s concert, Daniel Barenboim has appeared 87 times at the Salzburg Festival – he has conducted 23 opera performances, was the conductor or pianist in 59 concerts, and participated in artist conversations or master classes 5 times.

In 2010 he gave a widely acclaimed keynote address during the Salzburg Festival’s opening ceremony.

Photo: SF/Marco Borrelli

In 2018 Daniel Barenboim was awarded the Ruby Festival Brooch.

Festival President Helga Rabl-Stadler said,

“The philosophy that led Max Reinhardt and Hugo von Hofmannsthal to found the Salzburg Festival 100 years ago also guides the life of the great artist and human being Daniel Barenboim. He is a crusader against the zeitgeist’s vacuity. He is a champion peace, resisting all setbacks. His active conviction and faith in the power of the arts, particularly in difficult times, is especially inspiring to us in this centenary year.”