cover image Daniel Barenboim: A Life in Music

Daniel Barenboim: A Life in Music

Daniel Barenboim. Scribner Book Company, $23 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-684-19326-7

Pianist and conductor Barenboim, currently director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, has had a remarkable career, with its share of drama and tragedy, including the shattering death of his brilliantly gifted first wife, cellist Jacqueline Du Pre, and the debacle of his ignominious departure from Paris's Bastille Opera. But since Barenboim stresses at the outset that he has no intention of referring to private or personal matters, readers looking for colorful details of his life will be disappointed. Instead, his book is a staid account of his career, with dutiful observations on colleagues and contemporaries (as a conductor he seems, oddly, to have been most influenced by the unlikely duo of Pierre Boulez and Sir John Barbirolli). He has interesting things to say on the relationship between music, language and national temperament, and on orchestral technique--though there is surprisingly little on the pianism with which he made his name. Overall, the book is a disappointment--unfocused, meandering, dully written. Barenboim should have let himself go, as he does in performance. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Oct.)