Daniel Hope | Biography


Daniel Hope
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Few performers can match the intensity and humanity of Daniel Hope’s music-making or his passion for artistic exploration. 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.
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. Hope’s belief that music’s unique qualities of expression can make people think led him to establish Hope@9pm, a quarterly series of “salon” events which began at the Berlin Konzerthaus in 2016, combining performance with discussions between Hope and his invited guests from the worlds of culture and politics. In 2020, as live performance ceased, he hosted the Hope@Home concerts: 150 events, livestreamed daily from his living room during the early months of the pandemic, which gave a platform to nearly 400 musicians. The initiative was recognised in October 2021 with the Opus KLASSIK jury’s Special Achievement Award.
Over the past two decades Daniel Hope has appeared with many of the world’s leading orchestras and conductors. He has also worked closely with composers from Alfred Schnittke, Harrison Birtwistle and Torū Takemitsu to Sofia Gubaidulina, Roxanna Panufnik and Gabriel Prokofiev, and has commissioned and premiered more than thirty new scores. In high demand as concerto soloist, recitalist and chamber musician, he 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. He became the youngest-ever member of the Beaux Arts Trio in 2002 and gave 400 concerts with the legendary ensemble before its final performance in 2008.
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 Zürcher Kammerorchester, 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. Then, in January 2020, he became the new President of the Beethoven-Haus Bonn, the cultural institution at the heart of the Beethoven 250 celebrations.
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.
Today Daniel Hope is one of the most prolific classical recording artists in the world, and his DG discography also includes Air – A Baroque Journey (2009); The Romantic Violinist (2011); Spheres (2013); Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi – The Four Seasons (2014); Escape to Paradise (2014); Daniel Hope – My Tribute to Yehudi Menuhin (2016); For Seasons (2017); and Journey to Mozart (2018).
Three further albums appeared in 2020, starting with Belle Époque, presenting works by Elgar, Debussy, Chausson, Zemlinsky and Schoenberg. This was followed by an album documenting the Hope@Home chamber concerts, and then by the release of a recording made to mark the 75th anniversary of the Zürcher Kammerorchester, comprising Tchaikovsky’s and Elgar’s Serenades for Strings and Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik.
2021 saw the release of Schnittke: Works for Violin and Piano, made with Ukrainian pianist Alexey Botvinov, and Hope, a selection of music by Schubert, Elgar, Pärt and Ramírez, recorded during lockdown and intended to offer a ray of hope in difficult times. These were followed in March 2022 by America, an album exploring the roots and distinctive qualities of American music. Recorded with the Zürcher Kammerorchester and a stellar array of guest artists, America features new arrangements of works by Bernstein, Cook, Copland, Ellington, Gershwin, Price, Ward and Weill.
In the spring of 2022, Hope and Botvinov, by this time an enforced exile from Odessa, joined forces to support the people of Ukraine with benefit concerts at Dresden’s Frauenkirche and Berlin’s Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. They then recorded Music for Ukraine, a digital EP of works by Silvestrov, Myroslav Skoryk and Jan Freidlin whose proceeds were donated to international aid charity Aktion Deutschland Hilft for its work in Ukraine. At the same time, the Beethoven-Haus Bonn set up “Hope for Peace”, an emergency aid programme to support refugee musicians from Ukraine in various ways.
The duo had already planned an all-Silvestrov album as the follow-up to their Schnittke project, but their plans acquired a new significance as events continued to unfold. Released in September 2022, Silvestrov presents the world premiere recording of Pastorales 2020 alongside “Chopin-Augenblicke” from the Zwei Stücke (2003), the three miniatures of 25.X.1893…zum Andenken an P.I. Tschaikowskij and the Hommage à J.S.B.
Hope’s latest album is Music for a New Century, recorded as part of New Century Chamber Orchestra’s 30th-anniversary celebrations. Botvinov joins the ensemble and its Music Director in Philip Glass’s Third Piano Concerto and Tan Dun’s Double Concerto for violin, piano, percussion and strings. The album also features Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Lament and Jake Heggie’s Overture. Music for a New Century was released in June 2023.
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. He plays the 1742 “ex-Lipiński” Guarneri del Gesù, placed generously at his disposal by an anonymous family from Germany. 
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