Skip to main content


Late Style or a Double Fugue: Beethoven and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra

The Edward W. Said Memorial Lecture

dateApril 29, 2023 timeSaturday, 7:00pm–10:00pm EDT location The Italian Academy for Advanced Studies (Casa Italiana), Teatro, Columbia University
  • Barenboim-Said Foundation (USA)
  • The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities
  • Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • Puffin Foundation
  • The Italian Academy
  • Institute for Comparative Literature and Society
  • Illinois Arts Council Agency
  • Center for Palestine Studies
email address [email protected]
  • Free and open to the public
  • Registration required. See details.
Sepia-tone close-ups of two boys

Late Style invites us into the extraordinary friendship between a Palestinian-American scholar and an Israeli conductor and the global orchestra they imagined into being. Edward Said and Daniel Barenboim created the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra to bring together Arab and Israeli musicians. It became an unsettling, humbling, and joyful experiment in understanding the “other.” This performance piece is an adaptation of Parallels and Paradoxes: Explorations in Music and Society (Vintage Press, 2002), a book of conversations between Said and Barenboim on aesthetics and politics. When staged, Late Style is half text and half music—mostly by Beethoven, and the highly-acclaimed Syrian composer Kinan Azmeh.

Late Style follows the form of Beethoven’s late String Quartet in B-flat Major, Op.130 (1825). It has six movements ending with a performance of the Grosse Fuge. Beethoven’s late work is known for its radicality, as “music for a later age.”

Late Style is timely: it speaks about music and late Beethoven, Israel and Palestine, immigration, belonging, the rise of totalitarianism, and the necessity of the arts to find political solutions. Late Style—with all of its music—is beautiful and expresses radical hope in a world that cannot afford to lose it.

The music is performed live by a quartet from the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.

Late Style Performers and Team

Omar Metwally: Edward Said

Andrew Polk: Daniel Barenboim

Michael Laurence: Understudy

The Divan Quartet

Bassam Nashawati: Violin

Nurit Pacht: Violin

Sindy Mohamed: Viola

Lia Chen Perlov: Cello

Amer Hasan: Clarinet

Kinan Azmeh: Composer

Rony Rogoff: Music Director

Tanya Jayani Fernando: Writer and Director

Carl Hancock Rux: Dramaturg

Susan Jahoda: Video Artist

Fouad Hassan: Stage Manager

Saba Husain: Directorial Assistant