“This violinist, now among the best in the world as well as the most thoughtful, is as brilliant at Bach as [he is at] Birtwistle,” Observer (London)
Daniel Hope - Biography
Few performers can match the intensity and humanity of Daniel Hope’s music-making or his passion for artistic exploration. The British violinist’s musicianship connects with connoisseurs and newcomers to classical music alike, winning hearts and stimulating minds with its lyricism and insight. Hope knows how to make his instrument sing. His understanding of musical line and expression took root under the early care of his mentor, Yehudi Menuhin; it has matured fully since, enabling him to deliver strikingly personal interpretations of everything from Bach, Handel and Vivaldi to Takemitsu, Tavener and Turnage. The Frankfurter Neue Presse has described Hope as “a musician with a sense and feeling for something extraordinary”, echoing a theme that runs through so many reviews of his work. That “feeling” fuels his desire to break down barriers that separate individuals, communities and nations, and drives his work as a self-styled musical activist.
Daniel Hope’s projects have drawn attention to the fate of musicians murdered by the Nazis, to stories of others affected by hatred and bigotry, and to the fine art of composers neglected by history. He has worked with actors such as Klaus Maria Brandauer and Mia Farrow to set familiar works by Mozart and Beethoven in fresh contexts, and he commemorated the centenary of the First World War’s outbreak with a project that brought together songs from the period, words by soldier-poets and a new violin concerto by Gabriel Prokofiev. “I’ve been fascinated by what music can achieve, and I put together different projects every year that in a sense have a kind of political stance,” Hope observes. “And yet I’m not a politician. I’m a musician. But I do believe musicians can use their talents and their communication to make certain things happen.”
His outreach work now extends far and wide. As well as presenting a weekly radio show on Germany’s WDR3 channel, he is the author of four best-selling books for the German-language market, and has written regularly for the Wall Street Journal and Cicero, the monthly German magazine for politics and culture. His achievements have been recognised with the European Cultural Prize for Music (2015) and with Germany’s highest civilian accolade, the Federal Cross of Merit. “Daniel reaches a global audience with his music,” observed Culture Senator Klaus Lederer, who presented the violinist with the latter award in Berlin in October 2017. “It is therefore all the more remarkable that he is also so deeply committed to social awareness … Breaking down barriers and bringing different communities is an integral part of his life.” These words reflect Hope’s compassionate outlook and feeling for music’s unique qualities of expression. “I believe that music transcends cultural differences, in the same way that it transcends religion and race,” he notes. “I do not believe that music can change the world, but it can make people think.” That same belief led him to establish Hope@9pm, a quarterly series of “salon” events which has been running at the Berlin Konzerthaus since September 2016 and in which Hope and his invited guests from the worlds of culture and politics combine performance with wide-ranging discussion.
Over the past two decades Daniel Hope has appeared with many of the world’s leading orchestras and conductors. He is in high demand as concerto soloist, recitalist and chamber musician, and often performs at the most prestigious concert halls and festivals, from Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall and the Amsterdam Concertgebouw to the BBC Proms, Salzburg and Tanglewood. As Associate Artistic Director of the Savannah Music Festival (2004-19), he created season after season of adventurous programmes. At the start of the 2016-17 season he succeeded Roger Norrington as Music Director of the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, and two years later was appointed Music Director of the New Century Chamber Orchestra in San Francisco, which in June 2019 he led on its inaugural European tour.
In 2019 Daniel Hope also became the first ever Artistic Director of the Dresden Frauenkirche, somewhere he sees not just as a place of worship, but as a symbol of peace, reconciliation and tolerance. Meanwhile, as the music world marks the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, in January he becomes the new President of the Beethoven-Haus Bonn, the cultural institution that will be at the heart of the Beethoven 2020 celebrations.
Recent and forthcoming highlights of the current season include concerts in the US with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra performing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons alongside Max Richter’s Vivaldi Recomposed (November 2019); the world premiere of Jake Heggie’s Intonations: Songs from the Violins of Hope in Burlingame, California (January 2020); a concert with the Orchestra of St Luke’s at Carnegie Hall (February); and performances of repertoire from his forthcoming album, Belle Époque, with his Zurich forces on tour in Germany (February/March).
Daniel Hope’s seventeenth recording for Deutsche Grammophon is scheduled for international release on 7 February 2020. Belle Époque offers a varied and panoramic snapshot of the wealth of music composed between the end of the Franco-Prussian War and the outbreak of World War One, featuring works by composers as diverse as Elgar, Debussy, Chausson, Zemlinsky and Schoenberg.
He launched his recording career in 1999, soon securing a reputation as one of the most distinctive and compelling virtuosos of his generation with the diversity of his studio repertoire. In 2007 he signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon and marked his yellow label debut with an album of works by Mendelssohn, including the original version of the Violin Concerto in E minor. That same year he also recorded Schulhoff’s Sonata for solo violin for Anne Sofie von Otter’s album of music written by Jewish composers imprisoned in the Terezín concentration camp.
His DG releases comprise significant collaborations with post-minimalist composer Max Richter, including the best-selling Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi – The Four Seasons and remixes of Berlin by Overnight (both 2014), and a series of albums shaped by themes or musical moods. Air – A Baroque Journey (2009) evoked the expressive energy of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century virtuoso violin music; The Romantic Violinist (2011) charted the legacy of nineteenth-century violinist and composer Joseph Joachim; Spheres (2013) presented a collection of fifteen pieces inspired by the ancient notion of the harmony of the spheres; and Escape to Paradise (2014) explored works by European composers who found refuge from Nazi persecution in Hollywood.
The violinist marked the centenary of Yehudi Menuhin’s birth in 2016 with Daniel Hope – My Tribute to Yehudi Menuhin, described as “a loving homage” by the Observer. For Seasons, released in March 2017, flows from Hope’s childhood memory of hearing Menuhin perform The Four Seasons with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra. “It made such a profound impression,” he recalls. “That combination of musicians was irresistible; so too was the fact that Menuhin was able to conjure up birdsong and the sounds of the elements on the violin. I was riveted from the first second.”
February 2018 saw the release of Journey to Mozart, again recorded with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra. The album features music by composers who influenced Mozart, including Gluck and Haydn, as well as works by Mozart himself: the Violin Concerto No.3 in G major, K216, the Adagio in E major, K261 and a new arrangement for violin and orchestra of the “Rondo alla turca” from the Piano Sonata, K331.
In 2004 Hope was named “Young Artist of the Year” at the Classical Brit Awards. He has won seven ECHO Klassik Awards – including the 2017 “Classical without borders” prize for For Seasons – as well as the Deutsche Schallplattenpreis, Prix Caecilia, “Diapason d’Or of the Year” and the 2014 Edison Classical Award Special Prize. He has also secured numerous Grammy® nominations.
Daniel Hope was born in Durban, South Africa in 1973. When he was six months old, his father, the distinguished novelist, poet and anti-apartheid activist Christopher Hope, was granted an exit visa on condition that he never return to the country. The family moved to Paris, then London, where Hope’s mother, Eleanor, became secretary and subsequently manager to Yehudi Menuhin. Daniel played with the violinist’s grandchildren as an infant and was inspired by him to study violin with Sheila Nelson, one of England’s finest teachers of young musicians. He enrolled at London’s Royal College of Music in 1984 and subsequently studied at the Royal Academy of Music. Hope launched his professional career in the early 1990s and crowned his formal training with lessons from Zakhar Bron between 1992 and 1998.
Contemporary and early music belong to Hope’s all-encompassing repertoire. He has worked closely with many composers, from Harrison Birtwistle, Alfred Schnittke and Torū Takemitsu to Sofia Gubaidulina, Roxanna Panufnik and Gabriel Prokofiev, and has commissioned and premiered more than thirty new scores. Chamber music also stands among the central pillars of the violinist’s work. He became the youngest-ever member of the Beaux Arts Trio in 2002 and gave four hundred concerts with the legendary ensemble before its final performance in 2008.
Hope, who lives with his family in Berlin, plays the 1742 “ex-Lipiński” Guarneri del Gesù, placed generously at his disposal by an anonymous family from Germany.