Daniel Barenboim performing in Gaza 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohammed Abed)
Milan's La Scala opera house said on Thursday that Israeli pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim would serve as its new music director from December for the next five years.
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The Argentine-born musician will help prepare operas, concerts and tours at the glitzy opera house for about four months each year, La Scala said in a statement.
The conductor, known for his Palestinian rights activism, made waves in February when he performed a concert in Gaza, enlisting musicians from across Europe in the endeavor. It was not the first time he courted controversy.
He co-founded the West-Eastern Divan Workshop, a cooperative of young
Israeli and Palestinian musicians, with late Palestinian academic Edward
Said in 1999.
Two years later, he performed a piece by Richard Wagner, an anti-Semitic
19th-century musician known to be a favorite of Adolph Hitler, at an
Israeli music festival.
After performing a concert in Ramallah in 2008, the Buenos Aires-born
pianist - who moved to Israel with his family at the age of 10 - was
offered and accepted honorary Palestinian citizenship.
Barenboim the recipient of numerous prizes for both his musical accomplishments and his political activism, was nominated for this year's Nobel Peace Prize.
he has been principal guest conductor at La Scala. The
233-year old institution has not had a music director since Riccardo
Muti's exit in 2005. Barenboim is also currently music director at Berlin's Staatsoper.