BBC Proms 2017 / 4: Daniel Barenboim’s post-concert speech

Note – the text of Daniel Barenboim’s speech was transcribed from the live broadcast of his second concert at the BBC Proms with the Staatskapelle Berlin. 

Ladies and gentlemen I hope you will bear with me – there are some words I would like to say today that I would like to share with you. I don’t know if all of you will agree with me, but I would really like to share them.

But first of all, I would to thank this wonderful orchestra …


… not for being wonderful – this is what they are.

But, for having agreed to postpone their holiday for a week or maybe more in order to be able to come to the Proms this weekend, to play for you the Elgar Symphonies is something that is very important to them. They really fell in love with this music and they really wanted to bring this to London. And I am very grateful they are only going on holiday tomorrow.


And I would like to share with you some feelings or thoughts which I have. Not political.


Not political, but rather of a human concern. When I look at the world with so many isolation tendencies, I get very worried. And I know I am not alone.


You know – I was – I lived in this country for many years. I was married in this country. I lived in this here for many years. I was shown so much affection whilst I lived here. That this gave me the impetus if you want to say what I would like to say.

I think that the main problem today is not the policies of this country or of that country. The main problem of today is that there is not enough education.


That there is not education for music we have known that for a long time, but now there is not enough education about whom we are, about what is a human being and how is he to relate to with other of the same kind.


That’s why I say it’s not political but that it is of human concern. And if you look at the difficulties that the European continent is going through now, you can see that, why that it is, because of the lack of common education. Because in one country they do not know why they should belong to something that the other countries do. And I’m not talking about this country now …


.. I’ll come to that. I’m talking in general. You know our profession, the musical profession, is the only one, that is not national. No German musician will tell you – ‘I am a German music and I will only play Brahms, Schumann and Beethoven’


We had very good proof of it tonight. If let me stay out of Great Britain – if a French citizen wants to learn Goethe he must have a translation. But he doesn’t need a translation for the Beethoven symphonies. This is important. This is why music is so important. And this isolationist tendencies and nationalism in its very narrow sense, is something that is very dangerous and can only be fought with a real great accent on the education of the new generation. We are probably too old for that. But the new generation need to understand that Greece and Germany and France and Denmark all have something in common, called European culture.


Not only Europe. Culture. This is the most important thing. And of course in this cultural community called Europe there is a place for diverse cultures. For different cultures. For different ways of looking at things. But this can only be done with education. And the fanaticism that exists in the world with religious backgrounds and can only be fought with education.


Religious fanaticism cannot be fought with arms alone. The real evil of the world can only be fought with a humanism that keeps us all together. Including you. And I’m going to show you I really mean it.



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