A Maestro's Mission Impossible

Daniel Barenboim seemed the ideal candidate to persuade Israelis to finally come to terms with the music of Richard Wagner, whose melodies were piped over the loudspeakers at Nazi concentration camps. A piano prodigy who first enraptured a Buenos Aires audience at age seven, Barenboim, music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Berlin State Opera, is recognized as one of the leading interpreters of 19th century German music. His parents, both of Russian-Jewish ancestry, moved the family from Argentina to Israel when he was 10, and Barenboim, who is now 58, is acutely sensitive to the associations that Wagner—Adolf...

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