Daniel Barenboim’s Reith lectures were absolutely fantastic: witty, intellectual, thoughtful and profound, and reminded me to buy the book he co-wrote with Edward Said, Parallels and paradoxes: explorations in music and society. I say co-wrote, but it’s actually a collection of their conversations – some in front of an audience and some in private. They discuss Beethoven and Wagner; the Israel-Palestine conflict; musical education; the way an orchestra works together; the transcendence of music; what music can teach us about the world. I don’t know enough about a lot ofthe music they discuss (particularly Beethoven and Wagner) but the book makes me want to know more.
I particularly liked some of what Edward Said says about the growing specialisation of society and the way that the connections between music, art and literature, history and politics are being lost in the modern day world. Later I’ll try to find a passage to reproduce here. Wonderful to read about people wanting to increase access to the arts not by making the arts more ‘accessible’, whatever that means, but by improving the public’s education in the arts in order to ba able to present these to a wider audience.