Condemn Russian politics, not its culture - warns Barenboim at charity concert
Star conductor and leader of the Staatskapelle Berlin, Daniel Barenboim, warned on Sunday (6 March 2022) against condemning Russian culture for President Putin's politics.
"Russian culture is not the same as Russian politics. We must condemn politics loud and clear and distance ourselves from it unequivocally. But we must not allow a witch hunt against Russian people and culture,” Barenboim said during a charity concert at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden (Berlin State Opera).
Barenboim, whose grandparents of Ukrainian and Belarussian origin fled from the anti-semitic pogroms at the beginning of the 20th century, told the audience how shocked he was that a symposium on Dostoyevsky in Italy was cancelled for the Russian nationality of the author and that Poland had forbidden to play Russian music of any century.
“Emerging bans and boycotts, for example of Russian music and literature in various European countries, evoke the very worst associations in me,” Barenboim said after he conducted the Ukrainian national anthem as part of the concert.
The concert on Sunday morning was supported by the European Central Bank and the German Federal Bank, whose presidents Christine Lagarde and Joachim Nagel both attended, as well as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz among other politicians.
All proceeds from the concert will benefit the UN-Ukraine Humanitarian Fund (UHF).