"My health has deteriorated": Daniel Barenboim resigns from Berlin State Opera

Daniel Barenboim leaves Berlin Staatsoper job after 30 years
Daniel Barenboim leaves Berlin Staatsoper job after 30 years   -   Copyright  AP Photo
By Theo Farrant

Daniel Barenboim announced his resignation as the general music director of Berlin's Staatsoper (Berlin State Opera), a job that he has held for over three decades, saying that his health has become too poor to carry on.

The renowned conductor and pianist, who turned 80 in November, has been in the post since 1992, and he has played a pivotal role in shaping the organisation into one of the leading opera houses in the world.

In a statement issued by the Staatsoper, Barenboim said he will step down on 31 January, after being diagnosed with a “serious neurological condition.”

“Unfortunately, my health has deteriorated significantly in the past year,” he said. “I can no longer deliver the performance that is rightly demanded of a general music director.”

An illustrious career

Ronald Zak/AP
Daniel Barenboim, center, conducts the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at the Golden Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna, Austria, 1 January 2014Ronald Zak/AP

Daniel Barenboim has had a long and greatly admired career in the world of classical music, and his appointment as General Music Director at the Berlin State Opera in 1992 was a testament to his talent and dedication.

Barenboim was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1942, and began playing the piano at a young age. He quickly gained recognition for his musical abilities, and by the time he was in his 20s, he was performing as a pianist and conductor on the world stage.

Before joining the Berlin State Opera, Barenboim was the music director designate of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1989 and succeeded Sir Georg Solti as its music director in 1991. 

But it was during his tenure at the Berlin State Opera where he was recognised globally for his level of excellence to the stage, and his performances and leadership were widely celebrated. 

Germany's culture minister, Claudia Roth, said that Barenboim's time at the head of the Staatsoper “was a godsend for Berlin and Germany, because he led the opera house and the Staatskapelle to world renown after the fall of the Wall.” 

“I very much regret his resignation, wish him a good recovery and look forward to hopefully many further concerts and opera performances with him,” Roth added. 

Check out the video above for footage of Daniel Barenboim.

Video editor • Theo Farrant