Born in Berlin on 22nd March 1925, and named Gerhard, he was the only child of a well-to-do Jewish couple, Hilde and Ludwig Hoffnung. In 1939 his parents left Germany for London, where he attended Highgate School, while his father went to what was then the British Mandate of Palestine to enter the family’s banking business. (This temporary separation became permanent as a consequence of the Second World War.)
Hoffnung died of a cerebral haemorrhage on 25th September 1959, only twenty years after arriving in England but filled those two decades with considerable achievements as - amongst other things - a cartoonist, tuba player, impresario, broadcaster, and public speaker, much sought after by the Oxford and Cambridge Unions.
Hoffnung published a series of books of cartoons poking gentle fun at conductors and orchestral instrumentalists. After his death, some of these were turned into a short animated film by Halas and Batchelor under the title ‘’The Hoffnung Symphony Orchestra’‘, which won a number of awards in 1965-66.
He is probably best remembered for his three Hoffnung Music Festivals 1956, 1958 & 1961 held at the Royal Festival Hall in London which are availabe on one album at Last.fm. These featured contributions from distinguished musicians. Compositions specially commissioned for the Festivals included Malcolm Arnold’s ‘’A Grand, Grand Overture’‘, op. 57 which was dedicated to U.S. President Herbert Hoover and was scored for several vacuum cleaners and other domestic appliances. Franz Reizenstein’s ‘’Concerto Popolare’’ was described as the “the piano concerto to end all piano concertos”. William Walton conducted a one-note excerpt from his oratorio Belshazzar’s Feast: the word, “Slain!” shouted by the chorus.
He learned to play the tuba well enough to take the stage for Ralph Vaughan Williams’s tuba concerto, as well as being an active participant (and jester) for Morley College Orchestra, a much respected amateur ensemble in London. Hoffnung’s home functioned as a kind of salon for musicians, artists, writers, and friends in general.
After his death his concert concept was kept alive by his widow Annetta and collaborators. The latest event was performed in Lausanne Switzerland on 31st December 2005. His son, Ben Hoffnung, is a professional tympanist who can be seen with groups including the London Mozart Players and The Sixteen.
Edited by hjbardenhagen on 31 Dec 2009, 10:57
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