He is an orchestral conductor and pianist born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and who holds Spanish, Argentinian and Israeli citizenship.
He was taught the piano by his mother when he was five and, after he was older his father took over and was his only teacher. His first concert was given in Buenos Aires when he was seven and when he was twelve the family moved to Israel.
He attended conducting classes in Salzburg and met and performed for Wilhelm Furtwangler and he also studied composition and harmony in Paris with Nadia Boulanger.
He gave concerts throughout world as a pianist in the 1950s and made his first recording in 1954. He debuted as a conductor in 1967 with the Philharmonia Orchestra in London and following that was invited to be the conductor of many of the world’s symphony orchestras. He has been the Music Director of the Orchestre de Paris, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Berlin State Opera, and in 2006 was Principal Guest Conductor of La Scala, Milan. Also in 2006 he was nominated by Lauren Maazel to take over at the New York Philharmonic as his successor but he turned it down. In 2008 he made his debut appearance as conductor of the Metropolitan Opera in New York and in 2009 he conducted to Vienna Philharmonic for their New Year’s Concert, which he repeated in 2014.
In music education he has been the Charles Eliot Norton Lecturer at Harvard University and the 2006 BBC Reith lecturer, where he gave a series of lectures from various places in the world. His awards include the Wolf Prize awarded to him at the Israeli Knesset, the Wilhelm Furtwangler Prize, the Prince of Asturias Concord Prize, and Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and seven Grammy Awards. The Barenboim-Said Akademie in Berlin was officially opened in December 2016.