Hearts and Minds

A divan can be a place to sit and do nothing. But the Arabic word has more active meanings. In Persia, a diwan was originally a brochure; later it came to signify a meeting place, a ministry, a court, an account book, a great hall, even a collection of poems, as in the West-Eastern Divan of the German writer Goethe. Its newest meaning is a special kind of music. The West-Eastern Divan is the name of an orchestra dreamt up after the chance meeting in a London hotel of an unlikely couple, Israeli conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim and U.S.-based Palestinian...

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