Daniel Barenboim, the conductor of the Berlin State Opera and Berliner Staatskapelle, is an institution in Berlin and one of the most talked-about figures in classical music.
The performance of his annual West-Eastern Divan Orchestra at Berlin’s Waldbühne was attended by a massive audience of 22,000, including Chancellor Angela Merkel this year. And last weekend, he performed at the Brandenburg Gate to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall.
But his family is not as well known, even though his sons are also professional musicians. His younger son Michael is a concert violinist and David, his older son, has produced the beats for many German hip-hop artists.
Going by the name of KD-Supier, David Barenboim has made a name for himself on the German rap scene.
The German rap scene is growing and has produced a number of interesting artists in recent years. One of them, the hip-hop artist Megaloh, was his business and music partner for a number of years and they founded and operated the music label Level Eight together.
David Barenboim’s youth in West Berlin shaped him, although he also spent time growing up in Paris, he explained.
“We lived in Rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré on the top floor of the Salle Pleyel concert hall which was very practical for my father,” he said. His life took him over the Atlantic, as his father frequently worked in Chicago, so the family moved back and forth between the two cities, before finally settling in Berlin in 1992.
Music, unsurprisingly, has loomed large in his life. “My family sent me to piano lessons when I was five or six – and from that point on I always had something to do with music.” He originally wanted to be a painter, and studied art for a while in Paris. “But then I realized at some point that music was what meant the most to me, because I had always been surrounded by it.”
He went to Boston to study music and then returned to Berlin, the city he now considers his hometown – although in past interviews, he has described himself as “rootless.”
Mr. Barenboim tends to stick to his own side of the city. “To me, Berlin is West Berlin,” he said. “When I walk over the Warschauer Brücke, it is like a different city for me,” he said, referring to the bridge that connects the western district of Kreuzberg with Friedrichshain in the east.
When he is not producing music, he roams the area around Kurfürstendamm – the grand shopping boulevard that is home to many old, established restaurants and designer stores – and the somewhat grotty streets around Zoo Station. That area is transforming too, with the recent closure of the old Beate Uhse sex museum heralding the change.
“The museum closing down was definitely a shock to me,” Mr. Barenboim said and laughed.
Although he is fresh from working on a new album for Arab-German rapper Said, the young producer voiced his reservations about how long he can continue being a hip-hop producer in Germany. “What you want is either respect or money. As a rap music producer in Germany you don’t get either.”
The city and its hip-hop scene are beginning to feel too small for the man who has lived in so many places. Mr. Barenboim plans to venture further afield, both musically and geographically.
“I want to create something with international potential,” he said.
This article orginally appeared in Tagesspiegel. Charlotte Marxen is a freelance writer for the paper. Sarah Mewes, an editor at Handelsblatt Global Edition, contributed to this article. To contact the authors: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com