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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 August, 2003, 03:17 GMT 04:17 UK
Barenboim concert thrills West Bank

By Damian Grammaticas
BBC correspondent in Ramallah

Daniel Barenboim [right] with his son during
Barenboim [right] frequently uses his music to challenge fellow Israelis

The controversial Israeli pianist and conductor, Daniel Barenboim, has played a rare concert for Palestinians in Ramallah in the West Bank.

Daniel Barenboim has attracted criticism in Israel for giving recitals in the West Bank.

However he says his concert was not about politics, but about using music to bridge the divide between Israelis and Palestinians.

And he hopes, eventually, to create a Palestinian youth orchestra.

Rare moment

Playing on a Steinway grand piano in a slightly shabby school hall in Ramallah, Daniel Barenboim launched into Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata.

His audience, sweating in the heat, listened rapt.

This was a rare moment indeed - an Israeli maestro in full flow in the heart of the West Bank playing perfect chords in discordant times.

Many Israelis think he should not travel to places such as Ramallah to give concerts to Palestinian audiences.

But Mr Barenboim has frequently used his music to challenge his fellow Israelis.

Showered with thanks

He was the first performer to play Wagner in Israel and the first to play for the Palestinians.

He says he hopes that beautiful music can stir emotions other than anger and hatred.

And he has also set himself the target of establishing the first Palestinian youth orchestra in the next five years.

After several encores, there was the extraordinary sight of the Israeli pianist being showered with flowers and thanks by his Palestinian audience.


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