Barenboim Accepts Distinguished Post at Harvard University

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Byline: Bill Gowen

Daniel Barenboim is in the news this week on several fronts.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra's music director has just wrapped up his annual winter residency at Symphony Center, and details of his 17th and final season at the helm of the CSO were announced today, a "grand farewell" in which he has invited many of his closest musical colleagues to appear with him at Orchestra Hall as soloists or guest conductors.

Barenboim's contract ends in June 2006, but earlier that spring he will indeed be busy, having just accepted appointment by Harvard University as its 2006 Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry, a chair established in 1925 and filled by a distinguished list of visiting scholars, musicians and artists over the past 80 years.

"It is a great honor," said Barenboim, whose series of lectures at Harvard's Cambridge, Mass., campus will take place in May 2006. "I look forward with joy and not without trepidation to exchanging views with Harvard students, speaking about the phenomenon of sound, its relation to silence, and the very nature of music as human expression.

"A central theme in my musical life has been and continues to be the idea that music is at the nexus of cultural and humanistic disciplines," Barenboim said. "In my lectures, I look forward to exploring the intimate relationship between music, other arts, and the humanities."

Previous Charles Eliot Norton lecturers have included poet T.S. Eliot, scholar Harold Bloom and sculptor Frank Stella, along with composers and/or conductors Igor Stravinsky, John Cage, Luciano Berio and Leonard Bernstein.

"I am doubly pleased that Maestro Barenboim will deliver the Norton lectures in 2006," said Professor William C. Kirby, dean of Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

"As a world-renowned musician, he will bring to the Harvard community a wealth of knowledge that only he, one of the most accomplished in his field, could have. And, as a passionate and thoughtful ambassador of goodwill and peace, having forged alliances between long-time enemies through music, he will be a welcome messenger here, where audiences will be eager to hear about his triumphs in bringing disparate groups together."

In other recent news involving Barenboim, he will conduct his other orchestra, the Berlin Staatskapelle, in a benefit concert March 5 for the victims of the Tsunami in Southeast Asia. The event, to be held in Berlin's Philharmonie, will feature a concert version of Act 3 of Richard Wagner's "Parsifal," with tenor Placido Domingo in the title role, baritone Thomas Quasthoff as Amfortas and bass Rene Pape as Gurnemanz. …