Interview: Why Violinist Daniel Hope Calls Himself A ‘Musical Activist’

Listen Now
13min 10sec
Photo: Daniel Hope, violin horizontal
Violinist Daniel Hope

Classical violinist Daniel Hope calls himself a musical activist.

He collaborated on “Terezin,” an album of music by composers who died during the Holocaust. He released another disc, “Escape to Paradise,” in 2014 to explore music by Jewish composers who fled Europe and wrote film music in Hollywood during the 1940s.

And he works with Live Music Now, a charity that sends musicians out of the concert hall to connect with listeners -- including students with special needs and hospital -- in their communities.

The violinist spoke with CPR Classical about his recordings and career while preparing for a concert at Aspen Music Festival and School. Hope, an astronomy buff who released a collection of celestial-themed music in 2013, also talked about how the recent photos from Pluto delighted him. Click the audio above to listen.

Interview highlights:

On using the term "musical activist"

"I’ve been fascinated by what music can achieve, and I put together a number of different projects every year that in a sense have a kind of political stance. And yet I’m not a politician. I’m a musician. And I do believe musicians can use their talents and their communication to make certain things happen."

On performing music for listeners with disabilities

"We’re used to audiences not interacting with us. That kind of happens in the classical world. The audience sits there passively and listens, and doesn’t really move or react. But when you play for people who have a different way of expressing their emotions and feelings it changes the way you think of the music. And it was for me incredibly moving to see that."

On why he loves paying the music of Erwin Schulhoff, who died in a concentration camp

"He was somebody that was really the bad boy of classical music in the 1920s and ‘30s. He was friends with all the great composers and painters and dancers of the day. He was one of the first composers to integrate jazz into his music. And had his fate been different I’m sure we would have known of him as an extremely famous composer."

Bonus clip: Hope on collaborating with composer Max Richter on a "recomposed" version of Vivaldi's Four Seasons that became a hit: