On August 19, 1950—70 years ago to the day—a seven-year-old piano prodigy performed onstage for the first time in his hometown of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The wunderkind would soon cross the ocean to study and perform in Europe, where his remarkable talent earned him a sterling reputation among the biggest names in classical music. In Salzburg, he played at the Mozarteum in 1951, studied conducting with Igor Markevitch during the summer of 1954, and made his Salzburg Festival debut in 1965 at the beginning of a long and storied career that would see him take a well-earned place among the greatest of all time.
That prodigy-turned-master was, of course, Daniel Barenboim, and—given his history in Mozart’s hometown—it seems only natural that the Maestro would elect to return to Salzburg to celebrate the 70th anniversary of his performance debut as well as Beethoven's 250th birthday, a composer with whom he has always been closely linked. On the menu for this exceptional evening, live from the Großes Festspielhaus: a difficult and dynamic diptych beginning with Beethoven's serene and introspective Sonata No. 31 in A-flat Major, the great genius’s penultimate sonata for solo piano. Concluding the momentous occasion is a finale worthy of two masters who have indelibly marked the history of their discipline: the famed Diabelli Variations, another late work that exemplifies Beethoven's boundless ingenuity, played by an artist who possesses the same ceaseless drive to innovate.
Photo: Daniel Barenboim © Peter Adamik
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