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Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said

Prince of Asturias Award for Concord 2002

Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said have built up a close working relationship that has inspired them to seek alternative paths towards peace, coexistence and mutual understanding through the medium of culture. The West Eastern Divan, a workshop for budding musicians from the Middle East, stands out for its importance and social impact amongst the projects that Barenboim and Said have launched together and in just four years have become a guiding light for peaceful coexistence. The project unites young people through music, setting up orchestras where Palestinian, Israeli, Syrian, Lebanese, Egyptian and other musicians all perform together.

The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra usually meets every summer in Seville to participate in a training workshop and then offer a concert tour. It has received several awards, including the Premium Imperiale awarded by the Japan Arts Association and an International Emmy for its DVD Knowledge is the Beginning.

Since its inception, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra has performed in many European countries (Spain, Germany, the UK, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Turkey, Italy and Portugal) and America (the USA, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil). The orchestra played for the first time in an Arab country in August 2003, offering a concert in Rabat, Morocco, while in 2005 it gave its first concert in a Middle Eastern country, performing in the Palestinian city of Ramallah.

The Barenboim-Said Foundation was established in 2004. It is based in Seville and financed by the Government of Andalusia with the aim of developing a variety of educational projects through music based on the principles of coexistence and dialogue promulgated by Said and Barenboim. Thus, the Barenboim-Said Foundation not only manages the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, but other projects such as the Academy of Orchestral Studies in Seville, the Musical Education Project in the Middle East, and the Early Childhood Music Education Project in Seville.

Daniel Barenboim

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Daniel Barenboim (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1942) is one of the most highly regarded musicians of our times. Born in Buenos Aires in 1942 the son of Russian-born Jewish emigrants, he has had a spectacular musical career as an orchestra conductor and concert pianist. He has been musical director of the Orchestra of Paris, and has worked - to name just two - with the Berlin Philarmonic and Bayreuth Festival Orchestras. He was musical director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (1991-2006) and in 1992 became general music director of the Deutsche Staatsoper (Berlin State Opera), also known as the Staatsoper Unter den Linden (“state opera under the linden trees”).

He applied for Spanish citizenship on 2nd September 2001, subsequently granted to him on 25th October 2002. Since 1980, he has frequently appeared in the Palace of Charles V in Granada on the occasion of the holding of the International Festival of Music and Dance. Due to his links with this festival, he was awarded the Festival Medal of Honour in a ceremony held on 9th July 2011. In addition to his activities as a pianist and conductor, Barenboim has composed several tangos. He debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 2008, conducting Wagner's Tristan and Isolde. In 2009, he conducted the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in its New Year’s Concert. He also conducted this concert in 2014, greeting all the members of the orchestra while the Radetzky March was being played.

He has been awarded the Legion of Honour by the French government. Since 10th August 2011, he has been a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize for his numerous activities for peace and coexistence in the Middle East.

Edward Said

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Edward Said (Jerusalem, Israel, 1935 - New York, USA, 2003) was one of the unequivocal exponents of Palestinian cultures. This Palestinian intellectual, writer and essayist lived in New York, where he worked as a lecturer at Columbia University. His work ranges over vast fields of knowledge, and includes such disciplines as political analysis, literary criticism and musicology. He has also subject East-West social, cultural, religious and artistic relations to this closest scrutiny. Like other exiles throughout the course of history, Said has overcome and risen above his country´s and his own personal misfortunes, and has succeeded in fulfilling the challenge, in the words of Juan Goytisolo, of "transforming destiny into conscience" and thereby "creating works that are above and beyond the chance circumstance of any given political stance because of the heart-felt pleas and selfless inspiration within them".

In 1992, Said was appointed member of the Forum of Elders of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a group charged with identifying and defining the vital issues for the organization’s current and future work.

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