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Shared Heritage in classical music?  The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra

A case study by Kai Erdlenbruch


My project focuses on classical music in a shared and /or contradictory heritage. The research topic is the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, founded in 1999 by the Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim, the Palestinian researcher Edward Said and Bernd Kauffmann who was the general representative of the Weimar 1999 - Cultural Capital of Europe GmbH in the city of Weimar. 

The orchestra is made up of Israeli, Arab and European musicians, who give concerts all over the world. The founders’ approach is both aesthetic and political, although the orchestra is often described as apolitical. What shared narratives bring the musicians together and what keeps them apart? It is about history, about conflicts, about possibilities of dialogue and about the (controversial) role music plays in the search for solutions for peace.

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PHOTOS: The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra - Barenboim 2020: Daniel Barenboim (conductor) and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra at the Salzburg Festival 2020 (source and copyright: Salzburger Festspiele / Marco Borrelli (4)) / Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said in 2002 in Sevilla (source and copyright: Barenboim-Said Akademie gGmbH (1))

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