Barenboim returns German music award in anti-Semitism rapper row

Berlin-based star conductor Daniel Barenboim on Monday becomes the latest musician in Germany to return in protest his past Echo Music Awards in a row over anti-Semitic rap lyrics.

Outrage has grown after the prize was handed this month to rap duo Kollegah and Farid Bang, who in their song “0815” say their bodies are “more defined than an Auschwitz prisoner.”

Barenboim, 75, says in a statement that the rappers’ lyrics are “clearly anti-Semitic, misogynist, homophobic and contemptuous of human dignity.”

They constituted an “abuse” of free expression which society must “never tolerate,” writes the Jewish general music director of the Berlin State Opera and the Staatskapelle Berlin.

Barenboim says he, the Staatskapelle Berlin and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra had jointly decided to return the award because “decency and humanity” must outweigh “commercial interests.”


Argentinian pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim poses for a photograph after launching his new piano, the Barenboim-Maene concert grand, at the Royal Festival Hall in London on May 26, 2015. (AFP / ADRIAN DENNIS)

Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed