October 20, 2020

Several musicians accuse Barenboim of insults and humiliations | Culture

Several musicians accuse Barenboim of insults and humiliations | Culture



The Argentine-Israeli director Daniel Barenboim has been accused by musicians who worked with him in the past of verbal abuse, insults, humiliations and physical attacks. After hearing these complaints, those responsible for the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin, the opera house of which Barenboim is musical director, have announced that they will speak with him to clarify this matter, published in the press in recent days. Although, for the moment, the orchestra's board of directors has expressed its support for Barenboim.

"We will study all the information that arrives to us and then we will look for the dialogue with all the involved ones", has said the general director of the institution, Matthias Schulz, in declarations that the newspaper picks up Bild in its digital edition. Meanwhile, Barenboim has rejected the accusations that, he said, are part of a campaign to prevent his stay in Berlin. However, in an interview with the RBB station, he has recognized his "Latin American blood", which makes him impatient when a musician does not give the best of himself and, from time to time, makes him angry. "It happens to me rarely and I'm sorry, not for a certain person, but for the whole orchestra," he added.

The debate about Barenboim's supposed mistreatment of his subordinates began, when in a program of the radio station BR-Klassic, several musicians made accusations against him. Thus, the percussionist Willy Hilgers assured that his health had been affected by the authoritarian style of Barenboim and that the humiliations suffered had produced hypertension and depressions. Hilgers, who was part of the Staatskappelle, the orchestra of the opera of Unter den Linden, between 1998 and 2013, went so far as to affirm that for a time he could only play using antidepressants. That is why, six years ago, when he had the opportunity, he left Berlin and went to the orchestra of the Munich opera.

The trombone Martin Reinhardt, who was 13 years at the Staatskapelle and is now in Copenhagen, said Barenboim has sudden mood swings and explained that there was a time when he suffered from insomnia because of the fear he had of going to work. Weeks before, the digital magazine GO, citing anonymous sources identified as musicians and former members of the orchestra, even spoke of physical attacks in which Barenboim shook his interlocutor after taking him by the lapel.

Barenboim was appointed general musical director 28 years ago, his current contract ends in 2022. Since 2000, he is the chief musical director for life.

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