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. Born in Durban, South Africa in 1973, he was six months old when 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 later 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 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. Hope became the youngest-ever member of the Beaux Arts Trio in 2002 and was named Young Artist of the Year at the Classical Brit Awards two years later. Hope has appeared with many of the world’s leading orchestras and conductors and has worked closely with composers from Alfred Schnittke, Harrison Birtwistle and Torū Takemitsu to Sofia Gubaidulina and Roxanna Panufnik. He has commissioned and premiered more than thirty new scores and is in high demand as a concerto soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician, often performing 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 signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon in 2007 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. The violinist is fuelled by his desire to break down barriers that separate individuals, communities, and nations, and driven by his work as a self-styled musical activist. His 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 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.
His outreach work now extends far and wide, with a weekly radio show on Germany’s WDR3 channel, four best-selling books for the German-language market and regular contributions to 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 in 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 the same year, he also became the music director of the Zurich Chamber Orchestra and the music director of the New Century Chamber Orchestra in San Francisco in 2018, leading their inaugural European tour. The following year, he became the first ever artistic director of the Dresden Frauenkirche and in 2020 the new President of the Beethoven-Haus Bonn, the cultural institution at the heart of the 250th celebrations of Beethoven.
Alongside numerous Grammy nominations, Hope has also 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 Edison Classical Award Special Prize. As live performance ceased during the lockdown, he hosted a series of chamber concerts in his Berlin home, inviting other artists based locally to join him for livestreamed performances that were watched by music-lovers worldwide. Hope plays the 1742 “ex-Lipiński” Guarneri del Gesù violin, placed generously at his disposal by an anonymous family from Germany.