Performance and Philosophy in Barenboim

Daniel Barenboim expounds a compelling vision of performance in his writings. Likewise in his music. Time and event can’t be taken for granted: each arc of melody and fall of chord must have justification within the context of performance, and each swell and sap should exert their power slowly, with conviction. Music is in a constant state of resolving its ontology, in a constant state of Adornian becoming. Musical forms offer the experience of allegorical and aesthetic death. In the rise and fall of each Bach Fugue of the 48, in the kairos and ultimate decay of Beethoven symphonies, in the fragmentation of Boulezian gesture, we are given the opportunity to transcend profane time and experience a higher order of life and death. Human beings can, in Barenboim’s eyes, live a thousand times, learning to die each time in preparation for their real, mortal death.

For Barenboim, music can’t be separated from life: musical discipline and compositional organisation form direct homology with those of the social, in fact cross over from homology into a singularity with the forms of life. Everything is Connected, goes his book, and in his performances each gesture, each inflection, asks anew: why is there not silence in place of this sound?

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One Response to “Performance and Philosophy in Barenboim”

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