Skip to page content

West-Eastern Divan Orchestra

About this Artist

For almost 20 years the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra has been a significant presence in the international music world. In 1999, Daniel Barenboim and the late Palestinian literary scholar Edward Said created a workshop for young musicians from Israel, Palestine and several Arab countries to promote coexistence and intercultural dialogue. They named the orchestra after Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s collection of poems entitled “West-Eastern Divan”, a central work for the development of the concept of world culture. 

The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra has proved time and again that music can break down barriers previously considered insurmountable. The only political aspect that prevails in the work of the Divan is the conviction that there is no military solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, and that the destinies of Israelis and Palestinians are inextricably linked. Through its work and existence, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra demonstrates that bridges can be built to encourage people to listen to the narrative of the other. 

The Orchestra’s repertoire extends beyond symphonic works to opera and chamber music performances. Concert highlights have included performances at the most prestigious venues in Europe, Asia and the Americas. While the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra has become a regular guest at the main international music festivals in Europe, one of its goals is to perform in the home countries of its members. Concerts in Rabat, Doha, Abu Dhabi and the emblematic concert in Ramallah in 2005 have been steps towards fulfilling this aspiration. The Orchestra has performed at the United Nations: in December 2006 in honour of Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations in New York and for the first time in October 2015 a Concert for the Understanding of Civilizations and Human Rights at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva. Daniel Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra have received numerous prestigious awards for the work with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, named Daniel Barenboim UN messenger of peace in September 2007 and designated the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra as a United Nations Global Advocate for Cultural Understanding in February 2016. The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra has released a number of highly acclaimed CDs/DVDs.