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Barenboim-Said Center for Music

Ramallah, Palestine

The Barenboim-Said Center for Music aims to build an informed and vibrant Palestinian society where music plays an integral part in educational development and shapes the identity of children and young adults.


Edward W. Said
was born in 1935 in Jerusalem. He was raised in Cairo, and studied in the United States at Princeton and Harvard. In 1963, Edward W. Said began his teaching career at Columbia University in New York, where he held the preeminent position of University Professor of English and Comparative Literature until his death in 2003.   Edward W. Said wrote more than 20 books, which have been translated into 30 languages. His ground-breaking work “Orientalism” opened up new horizons in the study of post-colonialism. Edward W. Said was active in the editorial committees of numerous magazines and journals and lectured at more than 200 universities in North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. A gifted pianist, he also was the music critic for The Nation for many years. In the political sphere, Edward W. Said was a major voice on the situation in Palestine and an unflinching proponent of justice and self-determination for all. Edward W. Said was the president of the Modern Language Association as well as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Society of Literature, the American Philosophical Society, and Honorary Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge. He also was a member of the executive board of PEN International until 1998. Since Edward Said’s death, his widow Mariam C. Said has been actively involved in the running of the Barenboim-Said Foundation Ramallah and she is the Vice President of the Barenboim-Said Foundation USA. “Separation between peoples is not a solution for any of the problems that divide peoples. And certainly ignorance of the other provides no help whatever. Cooperation and coexistence of the kind that music lived as we have lived, performed, shared and loved it together, might be.” “Humanism is the only, and I would go as far as to say the final resistance we have against the inhuman practices and injustices that disfigure human history.”


Daniel Barenboim
is the General Music Director of the Staatsoper in Berlin, a post he has held since 1992. In 2011, he was appointed to the same position at La Scala in Milan. Barenboim was born in Buenos Aires in 1942.   At the age of five, he started piano lessons with his mother. Later, he also studied with his father. Barenboim gave his first public concert at the age of seven in Buenos Aires; he made his international debut as solo pianist in Vienna and Rome at the age of ten. As a nine-year-old, he moved to Israel with his family. “The eleven-year-old Barenboim,” said the German conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler at the time, “is a phenomenon.” Between 1975 and 1989, Daniel Barenboim acted as principal conductor of the Orchestre de Paris. From 1981 to 1999, he conducted in Bayreuth, and from 1991 through June of 2006, he was Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In Chicago, the orchestra members named him honorary conductor, and in Berlin the Staatsoper unter den Linden appointed him a principal conductor for life. In 2006, Barenboim held the Norton Lectures at Harvard University, which have been published as Music Quickens Time, one of his many books.   Together with Edward Said, he co-authored Parallels and Paradoxes: Explorations in Music and Society. His musical oeuvre has been documented in over 500 audio and video recordings. "Great music is the result of concentrated listening - every musician listening intently to the voice of the composer and to each other. Harmony in personal or international relations can also only exist by listening, each party opening its ears to the other's narrative or point of view."


Mariam C. Said

Mariam C. Said was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, and currently resides in New York City. Together with Daniel Barenboim, she is a major force behind the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra (WEDO) and serves as the Vice-President of the Barenboim-Said Foundation (USA).

The WEDO was co-founded in 1999 by her late husband, the literary critic and public intellectual Edward W. Said, and the pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim.

The Barenboim-Said Foundation (USA) supports a number of music education programs in Palestine and Israel, including the Barenboim-Said Music Centre and the Edward W. Said Music Kindergarten in Ramallah. The Foundation is sponsored by the Regional Government of Andalusia and holds an annual summer workshop in Seville, Spain.

Mrs. Said served on the boards of a number of cultural organizations including The Freedom Theatre in Jenin, Palestine, and ArteEast, a New York-based international non-profit organization that supports and promotes artists from the Middle East and its diasporas. She is a founding member of the board of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee and served on the Board of Directors of the Alumni Association of North America of the American University of Beirut. She is also an active participant in Senza Frontiere (Without Borders), a group that evaluates and recommends films for their summer film festival in Italy.

In 2009, Mrs. Said published the critically acclaimed memoir A World I Loved: A Story of an Arab Woman, by her mother Wadad Makdisi Cortas. Mrs. Said holds an undergraduate degree from the American University of Beirut (AUB) in Lebanon and two graduate degrees from Columbia University in New York City. She worked for more than 20 years in the financial services industry in New York.

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