The idea of uniting young musicians from Israel, Palestine, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and other Arab countries into an ensemble still seems incredible, almost impossible, today. Yet such an orchestra has been in existence and flourishing since 1999, when Daniel Barenboim and his friend Edward Said decided to found the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.
At the 2007 Salzburg Festival, Daniel Barenboim conducted this sold-out concert of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. The concert begins with Ludwig van Beethoven's 3. "Leonore Overture" – not coincidentally the overture to Beethoven's freedom opera "Fidelio," a scathing condemnation of tyranny and political repression.
This is followed by Arnold Schoenberg's intricate and multilayered "Variations for Orchestra" of 1928, the composer's first work for full orchestra in the twelve-tone system. In the next piece, Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6, the "Pathétique", Barenboim pulls out all the stops and coaxes rarely heard instrumental lines and accents from the depth of his ensemble – an interpretation whose emotional impact underscores the world-class musicianship of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.