Daniel Hope | Biography


Daniel Hope
© Cooper & Gorfer
Please note that because of the Covid−19 pandemic, we are currently unable to provide reliable information about forthcoming live performances.
Few performers can match the intensity and humanity of Daniel Hope’s music-making or his passion for artistic exploration. The Berlin-based 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. 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 four hundred 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.
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.
Hope marked the centenary of Yehudi Menuhin’s birth in 2016 with Daniel Hope – My Tribute to Yehudi Menuhin. The album For Seasons (2017), meanwhile, was inspired by his childhood memory of hearing Menuhin perform The Four Seasons with the Zürcher Kammerorchester. 2018 saw the release of Journey to Mozart, a selection of music by Gluck, Haydn and Mysliveček, as well as Mozart himself.
Three very diverse albums appeared in 2020, starting with Belle Époque, which offers a snapshot of the music composed between the end of the Franco-Prussian War and the outbreak of World War One, and features works by composers as diverse as Elgar, Debussy, Chausson, Zemlinsky and Schoenberg. This was followed by an album documenting the Hope@Home chamber concerts, with guest artists such as Christoph Israel, Till Brönner and Max Raabe, and then by the release of a recording made to mark the 75th anniversary of the Zürcher Kammerorchester, comprising three classic serenades that are highlights of its repertoire – Tchaikovsky’s and Elgar’s Serenades for Strings and Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik.
February 2021 saw the release of Schnittke: Works for Violin and Piano, recorded with pianist Alexey Botvinov and featuring repertoire including Suite in the Old Style, Sonata No.1 for violin and piano and “Tango” from the music for the film Agony. Recorded during lockdown and released in September, the album Hope presents music by Schubert, Elgar and Pärt, new instrumental versions of traditional songs and a brand-new arrangement of Ramírez’s Misa Criolla – works intended to offer a ray of hope in difficult times.   
Daniel Hope’s latest album, America, explores the roots and distinctive qualities of American music. Recorded with the Zürcher Kammerorchester and a stellar array of guest artists, including Marcus Roberts and his trio, the recording features new arrangements of works by Bernstein, Cook, Copland, Ellington, Gershwin, Price, Ward and Weill. America will be released on 4 February 2022.
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. 
His forthcoming plans include a Nordic Christmas concert with the Zürcher Kammerorchester in their home city (December); four concerts with the New Century Chamber Orchestra and soprano Leah Hawkins in works by Diamond, Price and Copland (January 2022); and an eight-date tour of Germany with his Zurich players presenting repertoire from America (February).
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