Daniel Barenboim Essay

Pages: 8 (2264 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Music

Daniel Barenboim: Music Is Life

Daniel Barenboim presents music as away for human beings to explain the world around them. For Daniel, music can be used as a catalyst for both positive and negative forces, as well as a way for humans to grow, heal, and further understand the human condition. The wide scope of purposes that music has and uses it can fulfill makes it one of the most wonderful agents of realization and reflection on the planet. Music can also be used to draw conclusions about what makes a society successful, and what people can do to create a better world.

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Barenboim starts by acknowledging that with music, as with life, timing is very important. The tempo and timing of a piece or piano part can have more meaning than the actual substance itself. He states that, "…music only expresses itself through sound, and takes place in a given time." A composer or a musician has to work within these time boundaries, just as people have to experience life within similar time related boundaries. He goes on further to express that in certain points of human history, in certain times, music was used for negative outcomes. Hitler and the Germans used certain pieces to evoke more profound emotional responses in many of their propaganda films, and many of the pieces that were used still carry some social or cultural stigma. The composers never intended for this to occur, and these negative associations that come along with particular pieces exist rather unintentionally for them. Daniel does not hold these associations against those who have them, specifically Holocaust survivors, and hopes that someday the negative associations will fade into history and people can once again appreciate the music for its beauty. Barenboim states, "I can only hope that time will eventually help to liberate these human beings from previous negative associations, ultimately to hear the music for what it truly is."

Essay on Daniel Barenboim Assignment

The differentiation between substance and perception is also a key part of Barenboim's lecture. He begins by stating that perception and substance, relative to what the composer intended to be experienced can often be very different from each other. The substance of a piece cannot be altered, but humans have the power to change their associations and perceptions of it, as evidenced by Hitler's use of Wagner in German propaganda film during WWII. Music is seen as fluid, as adaptable and as having the power to be understood differently by different people over time.

Another important feature of his lecture is the idea that through music, humans can recognize, understand, and accept the flaw of life. He states, "But music shows us the inevitable flaw of life, which depends on change, the fluidity of life." This fluidity is the ingredient in music, which helps to change perception over time, and negate negative social and cultural connotations and associations. He calls this flaw of fluidity in life and human's inability to sometimes accept its existence life's "Zionism." He connects this Zionism with other Jewish ideals and associations of music, not just the music that became associated with Hitler's atrocities. He argues that it is Israel's place to enhance their history through the use of art like music, instead of viewing their future from a Zionist standpoint. Barenboim believes that if people do not learn to accept the fluidity of life, specifically naming Jews, that, the Zionist attitudes will eventually bind the Jewish culture to an unchanging, unenlightened religious perspective. Daniel tells his audience that unless Jews can learn to move beyond their Zionist view of religion "…the State of Israel will remain forever a foreign body, and as such there is no possible perspective of future for its remaining here, because a foreign body can exist in a society, or in music, or in a human being, only for a limited amount of time." Through a combination of individually conflicting means and arguments, Israel will be able to change its future focus and therefore shape its own future to something more meaningful. This occurs in music as harmonies are realized out of many different, sometimes conflicting elements.

Barenboim discusses the difference between strength and power at length in the lecture. He equates musical strength with the culmination of many different musical elements, stating,

Power itself has only one kind of strength, which is that of control. But even the great power of sound, in Beethoven, Brahms or Wagner, does not have to create the association of power that works exclusively through control, but instead through actual real strength, the accumulative strength that comes from the build-up of tension.

Many people falsely equate power with strength, but here Daniel is exposing the fact that power has only one kind of real strength, and that is the strength of control. All other elements, which could lend strength to a piece, are forgone for the singular power of control. This is an interesting point, both musically, and socially. As humans, often times we confuse strength and power. Absolute power is the absence of everything but absolute control. This can be seen in dictatorships around the world, and humans often forget the idea that real strength is derived not only from control, but also from other singular elements being combined to form an amalgam of strengths. This argument could be likened to the very old ideal of American immigration, and how America's strengths were borne out of its diversity, and not its lust of complete totalitarian power. Barenboim draws these connections together by saying that humans throughout history have tried to exploit the weaknesses of others to gain total control, which was often seen as power and strength. Barenboim states,

Leadership throughout history, and it is probably inherent in the human nature, has been based on the effect it can produce because of the weakness of the people, not because of their strength. How wonderful the world would be if it were ruled by people who understood this lesson from music, and understood the importance of combining transparency, power and strength. But if music is so human, if music is so all-inclusive and so positive, we have to ask ourselves how is it possible that monsters such as Adolf Hitler and others had such love for music?

He is showing that we as humans have a common interest in music, and that this commonality should be exploited to draw humanity closer, not farther. Humans have the illusion that we are all separate beings, but through the medium of music, all humans can come together and recognize that true strength in life and in music comes from the peaceful sharing of ideas and elements.

Barenboim helps to synthesize these ideas in a question and answer session that is very revealing and helpful in summarizing his arguments in a clear and concise manner. As he stated earlier in his lecture, Daniel thinks that music is sometimes painful to listen to, yet can be very sensitive in the way it invokes emotion and personal reflection. He believes that this relationship of painful listening and sensitive talking would go a long way in helping the Israelis and Palestinians create a more productive dialogue relative to the current conflict that exists between them. Barenboim also believes that Israel needs to re-educate and re-indoctrinate it population to understand that in life, as in a well-structured music, there are multiple valid perspectives and elements that all contribute to a single end. He wants a multitude of unique voices contributing to a solution in Israel, and hopes that one day the Israeli government will be able to accept outside help with the same amount of fervor and passion that they currently accept thoughts and ideas from insiders in their own culture and land.

To Daniel, the separation of the leaders from the people, both throughout history and more specifically in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is detrimental to finding a solution that benefits all parties. He states that in music, it is impossible to separate out different components, labeling them more or less influential, and still arrive at a well-organized, well thought out piece of music. This philosophy also carries over into the political and social realm for Barenboim.

Beethoven's 9th, Historical Context

The musical and historical contexts of Beethoven's 9th Symphony are quite interesting. Many different societies have used the piece in different ways. Initially, in Europe, the 9th wasn't held in as high esteem as it was after Beethoven's death (Swafford, 2003). After the composer's passing, the piece was viewed as one of Europe's crowning musical achievements. During the era of Beethoven, there was much focus on classical music and classical style (Thomas, 2007). Beethoven was able to finally break free of this style with the 9th Symphony, creating a whirlwind of musical depth and scope that many other composers mimicked later in the 19th century. This is in part why the piece, which was first performed in 1824, was not regarded as a masterpiece of epic proportions (Thomas, 2007). There was… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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