Daniel Hope’s Lands of Glory

Being declared stateless at just six months old did not predict greatness for the celebrated musician Daniel Hope, but the course of his life was changed when his mother began working for the legendary violinist Yehudi Menuhin.

AIRED: December 11, 2020 | 0:26:46

- [Announcer] Articulate with Jim Cotter

is made possible with generous funding

from the Neubauer Family Foundation.

(soft music)

- Welcome to Articulate, the show that explores

the big ideas behind great creative.

I'm Jim Cotter and on this episode,

Daniel Hope's Lands of Glory,

being declared stake as of just six months old,

do not pretty greatness for the celebrated musician,

Daniel Hope.

But the course of his life was changed

when his mother began working

for the legendary violinist, Yehudi Menuhin.

- It was amazing for us and it surrounded me

and our whole family, not just with a wonderful human being,

but with music and the musicians that came to the house

and the extraordinary meeting point of cultural worlds

that was Menuhin's live.

- [Jim] But Daniel Hope in concert and conversation

on this Articulate.

(soft music)

(bouncy violin music)

Kurt Weill, the German composer and songwriter,

not Kurt Vile the Philadelphia in the rock darling,

wrote September song as a meditation on his life.

Recently, Daniel hope has been contemplating

his own journey.

- I announced to my parents at the age of three and a half

that I wanted to be a violinist.

You know, it's probably not so normal for a small child

to be absolutely fixed on it.

Most kids, like my own ones,

will say they wanna be an astronaut or a football player.

And for me I was unwavering.

- [Jim] Hope is a South African born,

Irish violinist activist, who grew up in England

and who today divides his time between Germany

and Switzerland and under more normal circumstances

would be spending a great deal of time traveling the world

to give recitation and to perform

with the world's great symphony orchestra

in places like London, Paris, Chicago and Tokyo.

That's a lot of national identities

for one who started out with almost none at all.

When he was just six months old,

his family was effectively deported

from their native South Africa, for his parents,

Eleanor and Christopher's anti-apartheid activism.

Landing in London, their South African citizenship revoked,

they found themselves stateless, but mum had a plan.

- There was a finite amount of time,

we were allowed to stay in the country

until they would have kicked us out.

So she needed to find employment

and she speaks six languages, she trained as a secretary

and she met somebody that had an agency

that supplied part time jobs.

And there were two jobs going,

secretary to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Yehudi Menuhin.

- [Jim] Yehudi Menuhin was one of the greatest violinists

of the 20th, or maybe any century.

And Hope's mother becoming as assistant

irrevocably changed the course of the Hope family's life

and especially young Daniel's.

- It was amazing for us and it surrounded me

and our whole family, not just with a wonderful human being,

but with music and the musicians that came to the house

and the extraordinary meeting point of cultural worlds

that was Menuhin's life.

- The piece you're gonna play for us,

the cottage is an extraordinary meeting point,

both for your relationship with him.

He described himself as your musical grandfather,

but there's another thread to this as well.

Your great grandfather who was forced out of his home

by the Nazis, they paid a pittance for his home

and that was it, he was Jewish.

So there's the meeting of two of your ancestors,

so to speak, birth bloodlines and musical bloodlines

in this piece.

Can you speak to that a little bit

because you're now back living in Germany for some time

and very integrated there, but you're always very conscious

of what's happened in the past

- Very much so, you know I discovered the maternal side

of my family much later.

You know I knew that it existed,

but I didn't really know much about it.

And it was really when I went back to Germany

and I started to research

that I found all these ghosts there

and the fact that there's still a house there

that belonged to my grandparents and great grandparents,

the Nazis confiscated it.

They turned it into the center for Nazi Cryptology,

kind of a Bletchley Park where codes were deciphered

and sent to Hitler.

And this all happened in the rooms

in which my grandma grew up.

So all of this was a kind of a realization

of where I came from and I started to research

and I found out that the link even goes back

to the first rabbi of Potsdam.

(bouncy violin music)

- [Jim] Hope documented as Jewish heritage

in Familienstucke and in Spurensuche,

but that was only the half of it.

A long deceased Irish ancestor

would also come to play an important part

in shaping his story.

- My Irish great grandfather,

after whom I'm named Daniel, is called Daniel McKenna.

He ran away from Ireland at the turn of the century,

jumped on a boat and went to South Africa

to fight for the British against the Boers.

And so, you know there's been so much conflict

in our family as there has been in the world

in those 120 odd years.

But the Irish thing is deeply installed in me somehow,

even though, you know of course I've been there,

I've played there, but I don't know enough about it.

And it's on my list of things to do

is to go deeper into the past in Ireland.

- Happy to help if you need any stories,

we're full of stories.

The piece you're gonna play is Danny Boy,

which you know, for some people

who don't know the story of it.

It has many levels, one it's sort of the neutral Anthem

of Ireland, whenever there's an all Irish rugby team

or you know any kind of sports representation,

Danny Boy is the all Ireland Anthem.

But it's also interesting, in reference to your grandfather

in that it's either about a mother praying

as her son goes off to fight in the world war

or it's about a parent, let's say,

you know an old to a child or to an offspring

who's becoming part of the diaspora.

And those things happen to be both true

for your grandfather.

So the levels of it are extraordinary,

again a very, very apt piece of music

for your connection to Ireland.

- And a piece that my grandmother would sing to me

and I remember that, you know there's something very special

as a child being sung to you.

You remember that voice, you remember the words,

you remember the feelings of what that meant to you.

And, so every time I hear Danny Boy,

it transports me back there, to that time.

And we were gonna play a gorgeous arrangement,

which has all of the Irish soul to it,

but it's also attribute to Fritz Kreisler,

who was one of the greatest violinist of the 20th century.

Somebody also escaped Germany,

went to the United States and loved this piece as well.

And it's based a little bit on his arrangement of the piece

and amalgamates both of those worlds.

(bouncy violin music)

- Now in his mid 40s,

Daniel hope has led an extraordinary life in music.

He was the youngest ever member of the acclaimed

Beaux Arts Trio with whom he performed over 400 times.

His albums have won numerous

prestigious international awards

and his recording of Max Richter,

reworking of Vivaldi's four seasons,

which reached number one in over 20 countries,

is one of the most successful classical recordings

of recent times.

In addition, he's written four best selling books,

has a weekly radio show on German Public radio,

is a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal

and has written scripts for collaborative performances

with the actress Klaus Maria Brandauer and Mia Farrow.

And in his spare time, he can be found jamming

with other world renowned musicians

from beyond the classical world.

♪ Oh, sometimes I feel that I won't last for long ♪

Hope was also the first musician

to seriously begin producing at-home concerts,

after COVID-19 force most of the world into lockdown

in the spring of 2020.

But unlike many other worthy living room performances

for social media, his were televised throughout Europe

on the Arte Network.

(bouncy violin music)

At the heart of Daniel Hope's musical life today

is Switzerland's internationally renowned

Zurich Chamber Orchestra, where he is music director,

an ensemble that is as much a part of his past

as his present.

Let's talk a little bit about Edvard Grieg,

the piece we're gonna hear you play with the orchestra

is the first movement from the Holberg Suite.

This is a piece of music that's been with you

for as long as you can remember, correct?

- It has and in fact, the Zurich Chamber Orchestra

has been with me as long as I could remember.

You know, I discovered them when I was a baby,

my mother worked for the music festival in Gstaad

in Switzerland and she worked for the violinist,

Yehudi Menuhin and we went to Gstaad every single summer.

And the first thing she did was to take me

to the rehearsals and to the concerts

that were taking place there.

And the orchestra in residence

was the Zurich chamber Orchestra.

So my very, very first memories of sound of concerts

of orchestral sound was from the Zurich Chamber Orchestra.

And they had many pieces that were in a sense,

their signature tunes.

And the one that I always remember

is the Holberg Suite of Grieg,

because it has everything in it.

It has the romanticism, it has beautiful melodies,

it's got that gorgeous sound, it's very emotional,

there's lots of movement in the first movement

and I can remember the way even that they played it.

I never dreamed that 40 years later,

I would be the music director of that orchestra

playing this very piece.

(bouncy violin music)

- [Jim] In parallel with his rich musical life,

Daniel hope is a man of remembrance

and an advocate for change.

He's worked to honor victims of the Holocaust

through the music of composers who were killed by the Nazis.

He's a champion of new music

and has commissioned over 30 works

from contemporary composers.

And with Live Music Now,

a charity co-founded by Yehudi Menuhin in 1977,

he's helped bring music to a diverse range of communities

who rarely, if ever have the opportunity

to experience live music.

Hope sees this work as both a privilege

and an obligation to his family.

- I have two sons and they're both pretty headstrong,

I have to say and I do see, of course I see elements,

you know of both myself and my wife,

of course in our children.

But I also see, I see the grandparents there.

And you know, I was really bad as a young child,

if I was told you can't do that, that's not gonna happen.

It was kind of like a red rag to a bull somehow.

I never liked that and what I never liked was was rudeness,

if people were rude or if they were deliberately

confrontational, that kind of always got my backup

and that stayed, that's here with me

and it's with my kids as well.

You know, we're very active in that sense

and we just try and be good people,

I think that's all you can do.

- [Jim] If we just, as Kurt Weill did,

can imagine the span of a lifetime

in terms of the months of the year,

then Daniel Hope is enjoying the sunniest of summer times.

Who knows what joys he may share with us

in his September, his October and beyond.

(bouncy violin music)

For more Articulate, find us on social media

or on our website,

On the next Articulate,

Jason Robert Brown lives and breathes musical theater

from his early days as a fledgling composer

through multiple Tony Awards,

he's had to do it all his way or not at all.

Fade almost conspired to take music away from angel blue,

but the American soprano refused to surrender

to such a dark destiny and came out on the other side,

a better woman and a better singer

on some of the world's biggest stages.

I'm Jim Cotter, join us for the next Articulate.

(upbeat music)

- [Announcer] Articulate with Jim Cotter

is made possible with generous funding

from the Neubauer Family Foundation.

(upbeat music)


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