Stories » Daniel Hope uncovers dusty letters and compositions for new book - The Sounds of Hollywood / Deutsche Welle

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Daniel Hope uncovers dusty letters and compositions for new book - The Sounds of Hollywood / Deutsche Welle

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Born in South Africa in 1973, Daniel Hope was raised in England. Yet the violinist has long been curious about his Jewish family, which traces its roots back to Berlin. Fifteen years ago, Hope began to dig more deeply into the biographies of Jewish musicians, especially composers of German and Austrian heritage who migrated to Hollywood. The list was long: Friedrich Hollaender, Erich Korngold, Franz Wachsmann, Max Steiner, Werner Richard Heymann.

His original aim was to uncover music pieces for a new CD recording but it quickly became clear that he'd hit upon an entirely new project. Much as a cultural archaeologist might do, Hope delved into the biographies, archives and personal estates of the artists. Curious, he followed the trail of the immigrants through Hollywood, interviewing their children, grandchildren and surviving relatives. Extensive archives at Paramount Studios in Hollywood turned up an unbelievable treasury filled with hand-written correspondence, scored notes, letters.

"I have read a lot about this period. But it's quite different to go into these archives and open old, dusty boxes," Hope said of his time spent with the composers' history. "Suddenly, you're sitting there with Erich Korngold's notes scribbled on a napkin, composing a Viennese Waltz, crossing it out and then recomposing it. You get the feeling at that moment that you've really stepped back in time."

Hope also recorded Escape to Paradise: The Hollywood Album for Deutsche Grammophon which draws the extensive research into Eric Wolfgang Korngold, Miklós Rózsa, Hanns Eisler, and Franz Waxman to name a few - who fled fascist persecution to relocate to Los Angeles where they penned some of the 20th century's most iconic film scores. Recorded with Alexander Shelley leading the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and guest artists including vocalists Sting and Max Raabe, Hope's unprecedented new collection juxtaposes examples of the émigré composers' film and concert music with selections by those they influenced – like leading contemporary movie composers John Williams, Ennio Morricone, and Thomas Newman – in a nostalgic search for the quintessentially lavish "Hollywood sound."