Daniel Barenboim, age 11, with composer
Eithan Lustig and the Gadna
Youth orchestra (1953)
Daniel Barenboim was born on 15 November 1942 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Argentinian-Jewish parents Aida (née Schuster) and Enrique Barenboim. He started piano lessons at the age of five with his mother, continuing to study with his father, who remained his only teacher. On 19 August 1950, at the age of seven, he gave his first formal concert in his hometown, Buenos Aires.
In 1952, Barenboim's family moved to Israel. Two years later, in the summer of 1954, his parents took him to Salzburg to take part in Igor Markevitch's conducting classes. During that summer he also met and played for Wilhelm Furtwängler, who has remained a central musical influence and ideal for Barenboim. Furtwängler called the young Barenboim a "phenomenon" and invited him to perform the Beethoven First Piano Concerto with the Berlin Philharmonic, but Barenboim's father considered it too soon after the Second World War for a child of Jewish parents to be performing in Berlin. In 1955 Barenboim studied harmony and composition with Nadia Boulanger in Paris.
On 15 June 1967, Barenboim and British cellist Jacqueline du Pré were married in Jerusalem at a Western Wall ceremony, du Pré having converted to Judaism. Acting as one of the witnesses was the conductor Zubin Mehta, a long-time friend of Barenboim. Since "I was not Jewish I had to temporarily be renamed Moshe Cohen, which made me a 'kosher witness'," Mehta recalled. Du Pré retired from music in 1973, after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). The marriage lasted until du Pré's death in 1987.
In the early 1980s, Barenboim began an affair with the Russian pianist Elena Bashkirova, with whom he had two sons born in Paris before du Pré's death: David Arthur, born 1983, and Michael, born 1985. Barenboim worked to keep his relationship with Bashkirova hidden from du Pré, and believed he had succeeded. He and Bashkirova married in 1988. Both sons are part of the music world: David is a manager-writer for the German hip-hop band Level 8, and Michael Barenboim is a classical violinist.
Barenboim holds citizenship in Argentina, Israel, Palestine, and Spain. He lives in Berlin.