“The moment you create a beautiful sound, it’s worth every effort.” This sentence by Michael Barenboim (*1985) sums up his artistic path so far. Soloist and chamber musician on violin and viola, ensemble founder, concertmaster of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, professor and dean: versatility and creativity are at the forefront of Barenboim's work.
Since his breakthrough as a soloist with Schönberg's Violin Concerto under the baton of Pierre Boulez in 2011, Michael Barenboim has been firmly anchored in the international concert scene and has since performed with outstanding colleagues, including the Vienna Philharmonic under Daniel Barenboim, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Asher Fisch, the Israel Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta, the Berlin Philharmonic under Vasily Petrenko and the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Gustavo Dudamel. He has also worked as a soloist with orchestras such as the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Filarmonica della Scala, Philharmonia Orchestra London, Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Orchestre de Paris and the Spanish National Orchestra.
Solo recitals regularly take Michael Barenboim to the most famous international halls and to renowned concert series. He has performed at the Wigmore Hall in London, the Elphilharmonie in Hamburg, the Sydney Opera House, the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples and the Lucerne Festival. Featuring selected works by Pierre Boulez he played recitals at the Berlin Philharmonie, Carnegie Hall, the Konzerthaus Dortmund, the Barbican Centre London, the Opéra national de Paris and the Salzburg Festival.
In the 2023/24 season, Michael Barenboim will appear at Tsinandali Festival, among others, he will also perform with the Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra and be a guest at the Konzerthaus Wien. Extensive tours take him to Italy, England, Germany and South America, among others with the West-Eastern Divan Ensemble. In the Boulez Saal Berlin, the violinist will perform Berg's Chamber Concerto with Thomas Guggeis and the Boulez Ensemble. After the great success with the Cologne Chamber Orchestra last season as a soloist on the viola, he will once again interpret Mozart's Concertante together with violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, this time with the Vienna Philharmonic.
Chamber music has been a major part of Michael Barenboim's concert activities not only since the founding of his West-Eastern Divan Ensemble in early 2020. The ensemble, featuring selected members of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, has already undertaken very successful tours of Asia, North America and Europe under his direction. In addition, he gives chamber music concerts at the Jerusalem Chamber Music Festival, the Verbier Festival, intonations, the Beethovenhaus Bonn, the Mendelssohn-Haus Leipzig, the Philharmonie de Paris and the Vienna Musikverein. His regular partners include Pinchas Zukerman, Daniel Hope, Elena Bashkirova, Kian Soltani, Daniel Barenboim, Jörg Widmann and others.
Michael Barenboim is deeply convinced that challenges can be found everywhere in the cosmos of music, the mastering of which opens up new perspectives on unknown and well-known pieces alike. This is why he is intensely involved in contemporary music: the interpretation of 20th and 21st Century pieces plays a major role in his work, both as a soloist with orchestra (Widmann, Dutilleux, Ligeti) and in chamber music. Michael Barenboim has already premiered numerous new compositions, including works by Jörg Widmann, Kareem Roustom, Matthias Pintscher and others.
But it is not only the contemporary music that finds space in his work: Michael Barenboim likes to keep his musical spirit alive with pieces from the most diverse periods. In addition to his intriguing concert programmes, his CD recordings also bear witness to this urge for constant renewal. On his last albums for Accentus, he devoted himself to works by Bach, Bartók, Boulez, Tartini, Berio, Paganini and Sciarrino. In addition, between 2018 and 2020, Deutsche Grammophon released Mozart's piano quartets and trios as well as the complete Beethoven piano trios together with Kian Soltani and Daniel Barenboim.
In September 2023 Michael Barenboim will release a recording of Elgar's Violin Concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra London conducted by Alessandro Crudele on Linn Records. Mendelssohn's “Songs without Words” in an arrangement by Ferdinand David with Natalia Pegarkova-Barenboim at the piano will follow on the same label in spring 2024.
For Michael Barenboim, teaching does not only mean imparting perfect technique on the instrument; he is also particularly concerned with the universal education of his students at the Barenboim-Said Academy in various humanistic fields. After teaching for a long time and chairing the chamber music department, he currently holds a professorship for violin and ensemble playing. In 2020, he was also elected Dean of the Academy.