The award, 50,000 Euros, was presented Thursday night during his gala recital of Schubert at the Baden-Baden Festspielhaus.
One of the world's most honored conductors, he is also famed for his work with young talent and his creation of the East-West Divan Orchestra, comprised of young musicians from Israel, Palestine and other Arab countries. His high-profile efforts to achieve a reconciliation between the two hostile factions has earned him many friends in the music world. As with other awards, he indicated that the prize money will go toward the promotion of young musicians in his foundation. The award was accompanied by an impressive Laudatio (Letter of Praise) from fellow conductor (and composer) Pierre Boulez.
Only the preceding Saturday, Barenboim was honored by the German government and awarded the Westphalia Peace Prize in a ceremony In Muenster. The award, again 50,000 Euros, will also be shared with his orchestra. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle honored Barenboim as a "peace activist in the best sense of the word. Often, it's ordinary people like Barenboim, whose activism builds bridges and sets the foundations for peace." Previous winners of this prize include former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and conductor Kurt Masur.
Barenboim was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on November 15, 1942 to Russian-born Jewish parents. He and his family moved to Israel in 1952. He became famous as a concert pianist in the late 1950s and married, in 1967, the legendary cellist Jacqueline du Pr_. She died of multiple sclerosis in 1987. He married pianist Elena Bashkirova the following year. He has been music director of the Orchestre de Paris (1975-1989) and the Chicago Symphony (1991-2006) and is currently living in Berlin where he has been, since 1992, music director of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden (Berlin State Opera).