Daniel Barenboim was born in Buenos Aires in 1942 to parents of Jewish Russian descent. He started piano lessons at the age of five with his mother, continuing to study with his father who remained his only other teacher. In August 1950, when he was only seven years old, he gave his first official concert in Buenos Aires.
Important influences in his development as a musician included Artur Rubinstein and Adolf Busch, both of whom performed in Argentina. The Barenboim family moved to Israel in 1952. Two years later, in the summer of 1954, the parents brought their son to Salzburg to take part in Igor Markevich‘s conducting classes. During that same summer he also met Wilhelm Furtwдngler, played for him and attended some of the great conductor‘s rehearsals and a concert. Furtwдngler subsequently wrote a letter including the words, "The eleven year-old Barenboim is a phenomenon …" that was to open many doors to Daniel Barenboim for a long time afterwards. In 1955 the young Daniel Barenboim studied harmony and composition with Nadia Boulanger in Paris.
Daniel Barenboim made his debut as a pianist in Vienna and Rome in 1952, in Paris in 1955, in London in 1956 and in New York in 1957 with Leopold Stokowski conducting the Symphony of the Air. From then on, he made annual concert tours of the United States and Europe. He toured Australia in 1958 and soon became known as one of the most versatile pianists of his generation.
He made his first gramophone recordings in 1954 and soon began recording the most important works in the piano repertory, including complete cycles of the piano sonatas of Mozart and Beethoven and concertos by Mozart, Beethoven (with Otto Klemperer), Brahms (with Sir John Barbirolli) and Bartok (with Pierre Boulez).
During the same period, Mr. Barenboim began to devote more time to conducting. His close relationship with the English Chamber Orchestra, kindled in 1965, lasted over a decade, during which time they performed frequently in England, with Barenboim as both conductor and pianist, and made tours all over Europe, to the United States and Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Following his dйbut as a conductor with the New Philharmonia Orchestra in London in 1967, Mr. Barenboim was in demand with all the leading European and American symphony orchestras. Between 1975 and 1989 he was Music Director of the Orchestre de Paris, his tenure marked by a commitment to contemporary music, with performances of works by Lutoslawski, Berio, Boulez, Henze, Dutilleux, Takemitsu and others.
Daniel Barenboim has always been active as a chamber musician, performing with, among others, his late wife, cellist Jacqueline du Prй, as well as with Gregor Piatigorsky, Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zukerman. He has also accompanied Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau in lieder recitals.
Daniel Barenboim made his opera conducting dйbut in 1973 with a performance of Mozart‘s Don Giovanni at the Edinburgh International Festival. In 1981 he made his dйbut at the Bayreuth Festival, where he has conducted Tristan und Isolde, the Ring cycle, Parsifal and Die Meistersinger.
In 1991 he succeeded Sir Georg Solti as Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, with whom he enjoyed countless successes in all the world‘s great concert halls for fifteen years. At the conclusion of his tenure in June 2006, the CSO musicians adopted a resolution naming him "our honorary conductor for life." In 1992 he became General Music Director of the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin. In the autumn of 2000, the Staatskapelle Berlin appointed him Chief Conductor for Life. In 2006 he was named Maestro Scaligero at La Scala, Milan, where he will next perform Verdi‘s Requiem in November 2007 and a Wagner Ring cycle in 2010/2011, among other works. He also appears regularly with the Berlin Philharmonic and Vienna Philharmonic orchestras. In February 2003, Mr. Barenboim won a Grammy for his recording of Wagner‘s Tannhдuser and he and the Staatskapelle Berlin received the Wilhelm Furtwдngler Prize.
Daniel Barenboim is a prolific recording artist and has made recordings since 1954 for Westminster, EMI, Deutsche Grammophon, Decca, Philips, Sony Classical (CBS Masterworks), BMG, Erato Disques and Teldec Classics International. EMI Classics celebrated his 60th birthday with the release of his recital at the Teatro Colуn in 2000 commemorating the 50th anniversary of his debut as well as his performances of the Tchaikovsky First and Schumann piano concertos with the Munich Philharmonic under Sergiu Celibidache. More recently, EMI released a program of Mozart Piano Trios with Nikolaj Znaider and Kyril Zlotnikov. In recent years, Warner Classics International has released the complete Beethoven and Schumann symphonies and Mahler‘s Symphony No. 7 with the Staatskapelle Berlin, a complete recording of Johann Sebastian Bach‘s Well-Tempered Clavier, and CDs and DVDs of concerts with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra recorded in London and Ramallah.