The lectures, which were taped in various venues around the world and will be broadcast over the next five weeks, are presented under the auspices of the Reith Lectures, an annual series that has previously included such major intellectual figures as Bertrand Russell, George Keenan, and John Kenneth Galbraith.
They are broadcast each Friday at 9 a.m. GMT and then repeated on Saturday at 10:15 p.m. They can also be read and heard on demand at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/reith2006/.
The title of the series, and the first lecture, is "In the Beginning Was Sound. "
"Why is music so important?" Barenboim asks in the lecture. "Why is music something more than something very agreeable or exciting to listen to? Something that, through its sheer power, and eloquence, gives us formidable weapons to forget our existence and the chores of daily life."
Barenboim, a pianist and the music director of the Chicago Symphony and the Berlin State Opera, is also known an outspoken thinker and political activist, particularly on the subject of the Israel-Palestinian conflict (born in Argentina to Russian-Jewish parents, he now holds Israeli citizenship). With Edward Said, the late Palestinian scholar, he authored "Parallels and Paradoxes: Explorations in Music and Society."