Daniel Barenboim talks about his new piano, the Barenboim-Maene concert grand, at the Royal Festival Hall in London on May 26, 2015
Daniel Barenboim talks about his new piano, the Barenboim-Maene concert grand, at the Royal Festival Hall in London on May 26, 2015 © Adrian Dennis - AFP
Daniel Barenboim talks about his new piano, the Barenboim-Maene concert grand, at the Royal Festival Hall in London on May 26, 2015
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AFP
Last updated: January 1, 1970

Maestro Barenboim to spend less time wielding baton

Israeli-Argentinian maestro Daniel Barenboim on Tuesday revealed he would spend less time wielding the conductor's baton and more time at the keyboard as he unveiled a new piano in London.

The 72-year-old currently heads Berlin's flagship opera house, the State Opera, and had been mooted as a candidate for the prestigious chief conductor position at the Berlin Philharmonic (BPO), taking over from the departing Simon Rattle.

But Barenboim told AFP he would focus more on performing and setting up his academy for Middle Eastern artists, aimed at promoting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

"I have to slow down in any case because it is too much as it is," he said following the piano's launch at London's Royal Festival Hall.

"I will cut certain things. At the moment I conduct opera, I've been doing that for so many years now, I think that could take a slight reduction and I would like to play the piano more, as long as my fingers work and I can play."

Barenboim conceived and commissioned the new Concert Grand piano in partnership with Steinway & Sons.

It features no overlapping strings in order to produce a more "transparent" sound, and he will play it during a week-long Schubert recital series at the venue, beginning Wednesday.

Having played it for six weeks, Barenboim said he had "grown to love" the new instrument.

"It is like when you fall in love again, you want to go with that person everywhere and this is what I want to do with this piano."

The former Chicago Symphony Orchestra chief is much feted for his work with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, which brings together talented young Israeli and Palestinian musicians, and plans to dedicate his efforts towards opening the 33.7 million euro ($36.6 million) Barenboim-Said Akademie.

The academy "will occupy me quite a lot," he said.

"I have no role to play in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I am simply exasperated," he added.

"Depressed and exasperated by the fact it is not seen that we are either blessed or cursed to live next to each other. But certainly not back-to-back."

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