Conductor Daniel Barenboim has been made an honorary citizen of Berlin. The 80-year-old was honored on Friday at a ceremony in the Red Town Hall. “Our time has hardly produced an artist who demonstrates incomparable mastery both on the grand piano and on the conductor’s podium,” said the Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey.

She also paid tribute to Barenboim’s socio-political commitment, for example to promoting understanding between Israelis and Palestinians. “As an artist and as a person you are truly a figure of the century,” said Giffey. In his acceptance speech, Barenboim said he was deeply touched by the award.

Barenboim was born the grandson of Jewish immigrants in Argentina, and the family later moved to Israel. Even as a child he celebrated musical successes. His path later led him to Berlin. There he was General Music Director of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden for around 30 years, a post he recently gave up due to illness.

Barenboim also co-founded the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, which aims to bring together young people from the Middle East. The Barenboim Said Academy in Berlin also supports musicians.

Barenboim is the 123rd honorary citizen of Berlin. The list includes, for example, former chancellor Konrad Adenauer, painter Max Liebermann and actress Marlene Dietrich. Most recently, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier was admitted. The 101-year-old Margot Friedländer, who survived the Holocaust and is herself an honorary citizen of the city, also came to honor Barenboim.