“I consider Má vlast to be one of the most significant masterpieces of the 19th century, so it is a great joy to keep coming back to it.” says Daniel Barenboim, the legendary pianist and conductor who celebrates his 80th birthday in 2022. Opening the 77th annual Prague Spring Festival will be the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, a unique ensemble that Barenboim established together with the Palestinian-American scholar Edward Said to support dialogue between the various cultures of the Middle East through their music and coexistence.
Of course, this will not be the first time that Barenboim has opened the Prague Spring Festival with Bedřich Smetana’s Má vlast. In 2017 he conducted it at the groundbreaking opening concert with the Vienna Philharmonic, with which he also conducted the work on a European tour in Vienna, Linz, Munich, and Paris. “We are overjoyed that Daniel Barenboim has taken the emblematic work of the Prague Spring Festival, made it his own, and is promoting it all around the world”, says Prague Spring Festival director Roman Bělor. “There could be no greater symbolism than to perform this particular masterpieces with an orchestra of musicians from Israel, Palestine and other Arab countries”, says the conductor about opening the festival with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. “Home and homeland are very meaningful to all of them, in different ways.”