Obituaries: Eric Hope

IN THE absence of a wet T-shirt, spiky hair or an exotic-sounding name, many leading instrumentalists have struggled to be seen or heard during the past two decades. Marketability has overtaken technical ability in the concert hall, on television and on record sleeves.

Eighteen months before his death during a concert in Nottingham for the Theosophical Society, of which he was a member, the concert pianist Eric Hope made a half-hearted attempt to address this problem. Through a series of expensive advertisements and against the advice of friends and colleagues, Hope announced that, following extensive research into his family's history, he wished to be known as Erik Khopinski. Sadly, it was a case of too little, too late. Eric Hope was among an ever- growing list of world-class instrumentalists neglected by modern fashion and taste.

Hope could trace his pedagogical lineage back to Clara Schumann (1819- 96) twice over. His teacher Kathleen Arnold, with whom he studied privately in London, was a pupil of Schumann's most distinguished student, Fanny Davies. Meanwhile, the pianist Solomon - who was an important influence and whose Hampstead home Hope eventually acquired - was taught by another of Schumann's illustrious pupils, Mathilde Verne.

One edition of Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians described Hope as

one of the most thoughtful and versatile pianists today . . . who belongs to the school of thoughtful players of which Busoni was the greatest representative. Like that master, he never exploits a surpassingly fine technique for its own sake, but makes it serve exclusively the music of his choice.

He was dropped from later editions.

Born in 1915 of Baltic descent, Hope was educated at Warwick School. He was auditioned by leading figures of his day including the conductor Sir Henry Wood and the composer Sir Arthur Bliss and made his London debut at the BBC Promenade concerts. He could be heard regularly with the London Philharmonic, London Symphony and Halle orchestras under the batons of conductors such as Sir Malcolm Sargent, Sir Adrian Boult and Sir John Pritchard. During the Second World War Hope was a conscientious objector.

He became renowned as a specialist in the works of Bach, Liszt and Debussy, although he struggled with the music of Clara Schumann's great friend Johannes Brahms. Recalling the day when - intellectually speaking - he and Brahms parted company, Hope once said: "As I wrestled with a particularly turgid, cloying piece, I realised I need never play Brahms again, and a great weight lifted from me."

Similarly, contemporary music sat uneasily in his repertoire. When asked how he had played an especially nasty piece from memory, Hope replied: "I remembered it for the performance and, thankfully, forgot every single note thereafter."

The critics were generous. Following his Wigmore Hall debut in January 1994, The Times wrote that Hope showed that "he had an ear for sonority and a sense of style", and that the "tone and phrasing together guaranteed Mr Hope's claim to attention as a pianist with a distinctive musical personality".

With his partner Jack Sarch, a barrister and amateur playwright, Hope founded the Pro Arte Society in the 1940s. The couple invited theatrical luminaries such as Dame Sybil Thorndike, Sir Ralph Richardson and Sir Dirk Bogarde to appear in concerts of words and music, events that drew large audiences to the Royal Festival Hall. The final Pro Arte Society concert was at the Purcell Room in June 1988 and served as a memorial concert to Sarch who had died earlier that year, although Hope's appearances in later life at the Wigmore Hall and St John's, Smith Square, were under the aegis of the society.

In 1973, Hope joined the staff of the Royal Academy of Music and was made an Honorary Member in 1978. He also taught at the London College of Music and Media and was president of Birmingham University Music Society.

Hope was elected a member of the Supreme Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem in 1982 and became a Knight Templar in 1983. Although very few of the younger generation of concert-goers had the opportunity to hear Hope perform, his work survives in a series of recordings of Beethoven sonatas made for the BBC.

Tim Bullamore

Eric Arthur Hope (Erik Khopinski), concert pianist; born Stratford-upon- Avon, Warwickshire 17 January 1915; died Nottingham 2 August 1999.

Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine