During the 1960s he began to devote much of his time to conducting, becoming closely associated with the English Chamber Orchestra; since 1972 he has also conducted opera. Barenboim was guest conductor for a number of orchestras before his controversial appointments as director of the Orchestre de Paris (1975–89) and the Bastille Opera (1987–89). In 1991 he succeeded Georg Solti as music director of the Chicago Symphony, ending his tenure there in 2006. In 1992 he became artistic director of the German State Opera, Berlin, and in 1999 he was a founder of the Diwan Orchestra, composed of Israelis and Palestinians and other Arabs. He became principal guest conductor at Milan's La Scala opera house in 2007 and was musical director there from 2011 to 2014.
Barenboim unveiled a new piano of his own design in 2015. Similar to straight-strung pianos of the late 19th cent., it has strings strung straight and parallel, unlike the diagonally strung ones in the standard modern piano, but maintains the touch and power of the latter. The piano produces a sound that has greater warmth and transparency, and finer tonal characteristics, than contemporary instruments.
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