Observations: Proms brings Israeli and Arab musicians together in perfect harmony
Friday 21 August 2009
Expect queues across Kensington today and Saturday when Daniel Barenboim and his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra come to the Proms. The orchestra has been hugely lauded for bringing together young Israeli and Arab musicians in shared endeavour; their musical success is phenomenal, and Barenboim has always stressed that the organisation's raison d'être is artistic rather than political, not an orchestra "for peace" but "against ignorance".
Not political? Just look at the programmes. Tonight's Prom – Liszt's Les Préludes, the Prelude and Liebestod from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde and Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique – refers to the orchestra's founding in Weimar 10 years ago: Liszt, based in Weimar, championed both Wagner and Berlioz. Yet the first two pieces are laden with problematic associations. Wagner is still unofficially banned in Israel, a situation Barenboim has vigorously opposed; a bitter furore erupted when he presented the Prelude and Liebestod there as an encore. But the Liszt is even worse. This barnstorming symphonic poem was a Nazi favourite, used on German radio in the Second World War to present victory messages. Music, this programme seems to shout, should not be condemned for the connotations others have given it.
The orchestra's late-night Prom offers music by two Jewish composers, Mendelssohn and Berg. And Saturday night is Beethoven's Fidelio, in which a wife rescues her husband, the political prisoner of a corrupt dictator – the work is an operatic cry against oppression. If this isn't programming with an idealistic political subtext, I don't know what is.
'BBC Proms 2009: Barenboim & West-Eastern Divan' is tonight
film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
- 2 City traders pay £200 for a quick hangover cure
- 3 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 4 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 5 Ball pool for adults opens in London
Gorillaz Phase 4: Cartoon supergroup is back as new artwork is unveiled
Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
As Better Call Saul launches, here are the other spin-off shows we need to see
Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
Hard line on immigration could cost Tories the election