Described at one time in his publicity materials as "the British violinist," as if he were the only one, Daniel Hope is at least the most versatile British violinist of the early 21st century. An advocate of contemporary music, he has also performed Beethoven and Schumann with the period-instrument ensemble Concerto Köln, recorded music inspired by Indian classical composer/performer Ravi Shankar, partnered with actor Klaus Maria Brandauer in conceptual projects involving music and the spoken word, and recorded a pair of successful albums that use the familiar music of Antonio Vivaldi as a starting point for further creative activity.
Hope's father, poet and novelist Christopher Hope, was persecuted in South Africa for his anti-government views, so the family fled to England when Daniel was six months old. His mother, Eleanor, got a job as secretary to Yehudi Menuhin. Daniel became a playmate of Menuhin's grandchildren, and although the old master was not a significant figure in the boy's life, he did inspire Daniel to take up the violin under the supervision of neighbor Sheila Nelson, one of England's top violin teachers to children. Hope went on to study with several Russian instructors at the Royal College of Music, then traveled to Hamburg to study from 1992 to 1998 with another Russian, Zakhar Bron. He also took degrees from the Royal Academy of Music in London.
As a student in Hamburg, Hope developed a friendship with composer Alfred Schnittke (in 2003 he was entrusted with the premiere of the composer's recently discovered violin sonata from 1955), and would soon devote himself largely though never exclusively to the music of Schnittke and other living composers. He has commissioned works from the likes of Jan Müller-Wieland, Huw Watkins, and Roxanna Panufnik.
Hope's career began to take off in his mid-20s, and in 2002 he was recruited on one week's notice to perform on tour with the Beaux Arts Trio. Almost immediately he was accepted as a permanent member of the ensemble and worked to spice up the group's fairly conservative repertoire with commissioned works by such composers as György Kurtág and Mark-Anthony Turnage to celebrate the trio's 50th anniversary. He has continued an active chamber music career, in concert and on recordings, after the Beaux Arts Trio dissolved in 2008.
In 2004 Hope won three major awards for his recording of the Berg (in its original version) and Britten concertos; readers of the English monthly Gramophone voted it the best available recording of the Berg. He serves as associate artistic director of the eclectic Savannah (Georgia) Music Festival, and since 2010 as Artistic Partner at Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Hope has also written four books about his life and about music, and often contributes music articles to The Wall Street Journal. He has also hosted radio and television programs about music, including the 2013 documentary film The Secrets of the Violin.
Hope's recordings in the 2010s continued to run the stylistic and generic gamut. He offered the crossover minimalism of Ludovico Einaudi's I Giorni in 2012; paid a traditional tribute to his stylistic exemplar Yehudi Menuhin; and recorded a pair of novel albums: 2012's Vivaldi Recomposed (in which his creative partner was German-British composer Max Richter) and 2017's For Seasons, which offered a straightforward set of Vivaldi's Four Seasons concertos joined with a dozen works of seasonal significance from various eras. This stylistic diversity has brought Hope a good deal of mainstream attention: in 2016 he served as a television presenter for Eurovision Young Musicians, the classical-music arm of the famed Eurovision Song Contest.
He should not be confused with Daniel Hope, an American composer, born in 1972 in Baltimore, Maryland. ~ James Reel & James Manheim