Edward Said was born in Jerusalem in 1935 and raised in Cairo; and he studied in the United States, at both Princeton and Harvard. He began his teaching career in 1963 at Columbia University in New York, where he went on to hold the preeminent position of University Professor of English and Comparative Literature until his death in 2003.
Edward 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. He was active in the editorial committees of numerous journals and magazines and lectured at more than 200 universities across North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.
A gifted pianist, Said was also the music critic for The Nation for many years. In the political sphere, he was a major voice on the situation in Palestine and an unflinching proponent of justice and self-determination for all. He served as president of the Modern Language Association and was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Society of Literature, the American Philosophical Society, and the executive board of PEN International, as well as an Honorary Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge.
Since Edward Said’s death, his widow, Mariam C. Said, has been active in the running of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra as Vice President of the Barenboim-Said Foundation USA.
Daniel Barenboim was born in Buenos Aires in 1942. At age five, he began taking piano lessons with his mother, later going on to study piano with his father, and at seven gave his first public concert in Buenos Aires. When he was nine, his family moved to Israel; and the following year, Daniel Barenboim made his international debut as a solo pianist in Vienna and Rome to considerable acclaim. “The eleven-year-old Barenboim,” said the German conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler at the time, “is a phenomenon.
Daniel Barenboim served as principal conductor of the Orchestre de Paris from 1975 to 1989. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, he conducted at Bayreuth; and from 1991 to 2006, he was Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, whose members named him Honorary Conductor for Life. In Berlin, Barenboim has been Music Director of the Staatsoper unter den Linden since 1992, and from 1992 to 2002 Artistic Director as well. The Staatskapelle Berlin of the Staatsoper elected him Principal Conductor for Life in 2000.
In 2006, Barenboim held the Norton Lectures at Harvard University, which have been published as Music Quickens Time, one of his many books. His musical oeuvre has been documented in over 500 audio and video recordings.
A collection of dialogues and exchanges between Edward Said and Daniel Barenboim was published in 2002 as Parallels and Paradoxes: Explorations in Music and Society.