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First interview with musician Daniel Barenboim since announcing illness


Colleen Barry published the first interview with renowned conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim since his severe neurological illness forced him to give up his full-time post at the Berlin State Opera. Luca Bruno provided a series of close-up portrait shots during the interview.

Argentine-Israeli musician Daniel Barenboim has been the chief conductor for orchestras from Berlin to Chicago, Paris to Milan. Recently, the 80-year-old pianist and conductor announced that a severe neurological illness would force him to resign from his full-time position at the Berlin State Opera.

When Barry saw he would be conducting as a last-minute sub at La Scala in Milan, she immediately requested an interview.

The interview was set to go for 30 minutes, but the maestro told the head of the La Scala press office that he was good to go longer. The wide-ranging interview discussed not only his illness but also what he sees as music’s role in easing human suffering, as well as his own remarkable personal biography, as the grandchildren of Jews who emigrated to Argentina, fleeing Russian pogroms, to his own emigration with his parents to the newly created Jewish state in Israel in the early 1950s, to his settling in Berlin decades later.

Barry had interviewed Barenboim once before, in 2007, when he became the principal conductor at La Scala, and her long contacts covering La Scala ensured that her request made it to the top of the heap. Only one other was accepted, by Milan daily Corriere della Sera, which published a Q&A two days later.

Barry’s story was picked up by the Washington Post, the Miami Herald, Seattle Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer as well as The Times of Israel. It also was widely published in Spanish.

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