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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Amanpour and Company.” Here’s what’s coming up.
A five-star tour of the stars with the renowned physicists, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, who shows us the intergalactic connection between space and our
Plus, a violin performance by one of the world’s best. Daniel Hope tells me how his incredible family history brought him to music.
And pirouetting his way to the top, how ballet dancer, Damien Woetzel, became the president of New York’s prestigious Juilliard School.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I’m Christian Amanpour in London.
In a world more interconnected than ever, we could not be more divided, from the Kavanaugh hearings, to elections everywhere, to climate change.
Here to save the day though is Neil DeGrasse Tyson, connecting the dots between two vastly different universes. In his new book, “Accessory to
War,” the unspoken alliance between astrophysics and the military, the popular astrophysicist and host of “Star Talk” explains the straight line
within the relationship.
When I spoke to him from New York, we discussed the way astrophysics affects everything, from the Gulf War, to Tinder, to climate change and to
our politics, even to truth.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson, welcome to the program.
NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON, SCIENTIST AND SCIENCE COMMUNICATOR: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, what is this “Accessory to War”? Why is that the subtitle for your book? And it’s kind of alarming that astrophysics would
be an accessory to war.
TYSON: Yes. So, the full subtitle is “Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military.” And it shocks people. It
might not be upsetting to some who sort of — who are sort of fans of the military, but it’s definitely a bit surprising to consider that what I do
professionally and my community of astrophysicist does has strong overlap with the concerns and needs of the military, and that has been the case for
centuries and even millennia.
Going back to the time when if you’re going to be engaged in conquest or hegemony or empire building, you had vessels, naval vessels to accomplish
this, you needed to know where you were on earth, you needed to know where you are headed, where you came from, how to get back home. That entire
navigational question, all of your ability expressed through knowing where you are on earth was established and empowered by the intellectual backbone
of astronomers of the day.
AMANPOUR: Well —
TYSON: If we know the sky and if we can navigate the sky, and that gets brought to earth to know where you are by longitude and latitude.
AMANPOUR: So, that sounds like a perfectly reasonable accessory and it’s – – I mean, I’m lay person. But it’s a little bit like a GPS system, right?
TYSON: Yes. So, you bring the navigator’s tools of antiquity to modern times and you’ve got GPS.
TYSON: The GPS was conceived and built and launched by the U.S. Airforce, the U.S. Space Command, a brand within the U.S. Airforce. And yes, so know
the military knows not only where to go and where they’re coming from, but now that we have targeted missiles, you now have weapons targeting that
exploits the precision of GPS satellites that enable this.
The GPS satellite tells you where you are, longitude and latitude, and also, where you are in altitude and exactly what time it is, and all of
this combined empowers the military. Now, we use it for commerce. And we also use it for commerce. But to many people’s surprised, I think, in the
early days. Now, we have entire industries that exist only because of GPS, like Uber or Tinder. Yes.
AMANPOUR: I didn’t we’re going to be talking about Tinder with the professor of astrophysics. But nonetheless, here we are.
So, does it bother you — I mean, obviously — does it bother you to be an accessory to the military and to the war essentially? And what is the
worst that can happen? I mean, you have described perfectly rational needs such as knowing where you’re going to and coming from. What is the worst
that can happen in this, you know, conjoining of astrophysics and war?
TYSON: Yes. So, I used to stand in judgement of this. And I track that to the fact that I was raised in New York City, which is generally a
liberal town. And I’m from a community and academic community that is also liberal and generally antiwar. Plus, my earliest encounters with war, my
earliest exposure to war was Vietnam on television in the late 1960s.
And so, there was no one at that time saying, “Oh, this is a just war. This is a great. Will built statues of our war heroes.” No. That was a
And so, having been sort of shaked and imprinted by that understanding of war, there was no way I could think any war would be good or just. And I
would be much older before I’d reflect on the fact that there are wars that were just and necessary. But the second World War especially among them.
You’re not going to sit idly by while Hitler does what he does.
AMANPOUR: Again, you know, you could say that the astrophysics at the time which could see potentially, I don’t know, could it at the time?
TYSON: So, no, we had no — there was no vies from space. You know, there was no satellites or anything. What science could have done would have
shown closely related genetically all human beings are on earth, removing your possible justification of Hitler saying that his strain of humans were
better than other strains of humans. There are ways that science could have been brought to bear on that.
Part of that was mixed in with the eugenics movement that came out in the turn of the century. They sort of misapplied Darwin. And so, survival of
the fittest, and I’m more fit than you, therefore, I’m a better race, I’m a better nation or I’m a better culture.
So, there was so much room for abuse there that you need people to sort of keep that in check as well. Here’s what happens, Werden Von Braun, German
rocket pioneer, invents the V2 Rocket. The V2 Rocket which terrorized London and was the first ballistic missile.
This is just to appreciate what this is. It is a rocket that get launched, leaves Earth’s atmosphere, travels in the vacuum of space and lands on its
target vastly farther away than any previous missile could be launched.
Werden Von Braun knew that if after that war people were going to go into space, in any kind of big way, they would need that technology. And sure
enough, at the end of the way, we didn’t put Werden Von Braun — we didn’t send him to Nuremberg on trial, we set — we have taken him and his team
and they ultimately birthed our space program, which, by the way, is a vote of immigrants to the United States.
AMANPOUR: Well, it’s a vote for immigrants but it’s also kind of alarming because — I mean, we’ve getting slightly off pieced here, but it’s also,
you know, failing told mass murderers accountable.
TYSON: Well, so this is — well, expect that if the mass murderer has tools that you want, in your own defense, in your own security, then you
ignore that, you give them a stay of execution and you make them part of your team. I mean, that’s now a new thing that people have done in the
Maybe the early version of that is, you beat the heart of your enemy to gain the strength that they had or to believe that you gained their
strength. This — maybe that’s — this is a modern version of that.
So, yes. So, Werden Von Braun birthed the NASA, basically. Our rockets to the moon were conceived by him. And so —
AMANPOUR: That’s incredible. I did not know that.
TYSON: Yes, yes. And so — and we kind of cleansed the background there that he attempted to, you know, slaughter civilians. By the way, the V2
Rocket comes in super sonically. So, you don’t — it’s not one of this [whistles]. No, no. There’s no sound because it is travelling faster than
the sound it makes as it falls out from space. And so, you’re just walking down the street and a block explodes.
So, yes, it’s a terrifying weapon. So — but that is the same technology that you need to go into space. And this is this — this is the alliance,
this a two-way street. I discover something and the military said, “Hey, I want some of that.” The military discover something and it gets
declassified. I look over the picket-fence and I said, “That will help us too.” This is that two-way alliance that’s been going on forever.
AMANPOUR: And just briefly, is the V2 the precursor of the intercontinental ballistic missile?
AMANPOUR: So, in your book, you said the first trillionaire would be the person who exploits the natural resources of space itself, and that access
to space in the future maybe the deciding factor on whether we can not only accommodate the growth of our population but produce and generate well.
TYSON: Yes. So, there’s the thing. This relationship between astrophysics and military both enabling each other. In the future, may
actually be the greatest source of peace that the world has ever seen. Consider that some fraction of all wars, I couldn’t tell you what, maybe a
third, are over limited access to resources, and you fight someone to gain that access.
Well, space has basically unlimited resources. There are asteroids with — single asteroids with more gold, platinum, iridium, cadmium than has ever
been mined on earth. And there’s, of course, unlimited sources of energy with the sun.
And so, if it’s — if space becomes our backyard, then access to resources get removed as one of the reasons why people might ever wage war. If you
take over an asteroid, I say, “Fine, I’m taking over this asteroid and I’ll compete with you economically.” Well, here’s another one, there’s hundreds
of thousands of asteroids out there.
So, it’s — maybe this relationship rather than something that feeds war might actually ultimately feed peace.
AMANPOUR: So, what do you think about the Trump administration’s space force? I mean, what is that all about? And is that for military
aggressive purposes do you think or is it for the purpose of, you know, encouraging our future?
TYSON: Yes, it’s a great question. I think the speeches, if you heard them, the original one by the president himself and the vice president,
there was some muscle flexing, it’s like, yes, look at this bicep here, and that’s going to be in space. So, there was a lot of that.
But it left people thinking that we’ll just have sort of missiles destroying things in space. That’s not a realistic future for what that is
because space is a communal place. The way space, certainly in the near- term, would be used is as it had been used, as a place of reconnaissance, as a place that gives information to land, sea and air military operations.
The second Gulf War, 2003, was entirely enabled by space asset. Space has already been militarized in that —
AMANPOUR: What do you mean? What do you mean about the space assets? I have covered that war, I don’t remember the space assets.
TYSON: That’s good. It’s great that you could say that. I was there.
Yes. So, what’s happening is, the — that was the first time that GPS was — became a fundamental part of all the branches of the armed forces,
knowing where they are and where there were headed, and what they — and how to target their missiles.
So, space became, in a sense, an informational command center guiding all the operations that were being conducted. And that contributed to a
sufficiency, the — also the targeting, all of this, that went on in that war. So, it was the first space-enabled war that we’ve ever conducted.
AMANPOUR: And honestly, I do — I remember how efficient it was. I mean, it was like a knife cutting through butter from entering Iraq at Basra in
the south all the way up to Baghdad took very little time and very little very resistance.
TYSON: Consider also that in large regions that don’t have street maps, that don’t have roads, that don’t have traditional things that tell you
exactly where you might find grandma’s house or supply depot. You need coordinates from space to tell you that. And so, now, you know where
things are even when you didn’t previously have a map of the region.
So, in that sense, space has already been militarized but not in the sense of weapons and lasers and things, in the sense of intelligence gathering
for other operation.
AMANPOUR: Do you foresee a time when space itself will be, as you put it, weapons and lasers and, you know, intergalactic battles taking place up
there or is that just Star Wars fantasy?
TYSON: When you think of what a military’s task should be, and this is back to the space force, you want them to — what does $ the military do?
They protect you, all right, they provide security for your like. Sometimes it’s at the border, in modern times you need sort of cyber
security, this sort of thing. OK.
In space, what are they protecting? Well, I have space assets, I have a weather satellite, I have a TV communications satellite. You want to
protect those because I’m conducting commerce through them not I — I mean our citizenry.
Now, it’s not only the value the hardware that’s up there, it’s the value of the economy that it enables on Earth. So, if you have a weather
satellite and it gives you a picture of a moving hurricane and you can warn people and businesses and commerce, “Move. Do this. Take this
precaution.” You save money, you save lives. And so, you’d want a space force to protect that, wouldn’t you?
So now, I’m a rogue state and I have a satellite that’s kind of irritating your commerce satellite or I’m tickling it, I want block it. So, you’re
going to want some way to defend against that.
The Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which reads like kumbaya, it’s very beautiful. I mean, it’s very hopeful. We all hold hands and save other
astronauts if they’re in trouble. It’s beautifully written. But it allows you to put defensive weapons in space.
Now, if I see your satellite coming towards me even though it hasn’t done anything yet and I’m a little spooked and I, as a first strike, take you
out, is that defensive; right? So, there’s some gray area there.
AMANPOUR: That’s really gray.
TYSON: Really, really, gray.
AMANPOUR: That’s really gray.
TYSON: We have a space — it’s gray on Earth too, of course. So —
AMANPOUR: So —
TYSON: Now, I don’t see bombs in space. Plus, you’re not going to drop a bomb on Earth from orbit. That’s just not efficient. We already can
deliver a bomb through intercontinental missiles. You can send missiles from place one place to another anywhere on Earth within 45 minutes.
That’s the amazing thing which makes them so deadly, which is why those things held us hostage, the whole hostage, during the entire length of the
You’re not going to do that because you’ll make a mess of space and then you can’t conduct business, you can’t even conduct military operations.
What would — could happen is, if you have colonies on Mars and colonies on the moon, multiple colonies on the moon and then you start getting tribal,
you say, “This is my colony. It’s not your colony. It’s my country. Here’s my flag,” I can imagine wars on the surface of the moon, wars on the
surface of Mars.
AMANPOUR: So —
TYSON: I can imagine that.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you this, my flag, my country, my colony, my moon, my planet, Neil Armstrong, and of course, there are films being
produced right now and theories about the first-time man walked on the moon, and it was man, Neil Armstrong. NASA doesn’t seem to be — and I
don’t know what you think about this. Is there any more value to anymore, you know, man, space flights that actually land on the moon or on other
TYSON: You ask a very important and fascinating question. So, in the modern age of robotics, to send humans to do science when you can send 10
or 20 or or 50 robots for the same price, most — nearly all scientists will say, “Send the robots. I don’t need to go. Because I can now land in
50 places on Mars and do science rather than just one.” Because people like — you have to feed them, they usually want to come back to their
families, you know, this is costly, and the ship has to be — you know, it has to be, “what they say man-rated as opposed to machine-rated” so it has
to be extra safe.
So, if you’re talking about just pure science, it’s very hard to argue why you would send a person. However, if you want to talk about the passion
for why you do this, I’ve never seen a ticker tape parade given for a robot.
AMANPOUR: I agree.
TYSON: They — and so, you want to talk about what will stimulate interest in the next generation. You send a person who can come back and tell
stories about it and be on the news and that becomes what drives us to want to do it, because one of own has done it.
It’s no different from antiquity where the great explorers would come back and they’d write the books, they’d show the drawings, they would bring
samples, that — it’s the vicarious experience of feeling this through one of your own, another human being.
AMANPOUR: So —
TYSON: So, that has value for making it happen in the first place, and I’m not — I will not deny that reality.
AMANPOUR: And you’ve said, “I’m OK with the U.S Space Force, but what we need more is a truth force. One that defends against all enemies of
accurate information both foreign and domestic,” and I assume you would include scientific information, facts, evidence and all the rest of it. So
TYSON: That’s right because we live in an era where nobody claims they know what the truth is, is it face news, real news. And we do have systems
in place establish what is true, what is objectively true about the world. One of them is the National Academy of Science, sciences, which by the way,
was established by Abraham Lincoln in what year, 1863, when he clearly had other important things going on in his life.
He signed into law this body of scientists independent of any politics going on in Washington to advice the executive branch and the legislative
branches of what role science might play in establishing laws and legislation for the benefit of our citizenry.
AMANPOUR: Well, that’s so —
TYSON: And, you know, then it comes —
AMANPOUR: Yes. I mean, look, I just — I feel like jumping in because it’s so relevant right now, the idea of defending the truth, defending
facts and evidence. And just to hog back to astrophysics, well, at least to NASA, when we read that actually back 1998, James Hansen provided what’s
considered the first warnings about global warming, telling the U.S. Congress that he could declare in a 99 percent confidence that a recent
sharp rise in temperatures was result of human activity.
And recently, he said, “All we’ve done is agree there’s a problem, saying promises like Paris don’t mean much, it’s wishful thinking, it’s a hoax the
government has played on us since the 1990s.” I guess all this to say, you’re much warranted scientific community has just not been listened to
because politics did come to play and there was that moment where we might be able to stop this tipping point moment of the deathly increase in
degrees of temperature and politics intervened.
TYSON: Yes. So, just to be clear, in my later years, I’ve — I’m more mature than I was decades ago. So, I recognize that politic is always
going to be in there at some level. The problem occurs when the politics stands in denial of newly revealed objective truths about how this world
Then you have people choosing politics sides around scientific results rather than saying, “OK. We got the global warming, we’re doing it, let’s
go in the backroom and duke it out politically about how to resolve this.” Do you put carbon credits, do you tax solar panels, do you have a new
program to retrain people from coal to — that — those are politics answers, and I don’t have any problem with that conversation happening
behind or in front of closed doors.
But when the — what’s going on behind closed doors is denials of what scientists are telling you, oh, my gosh, that’s the beginning of the end of
an informed democracy. You just watch the United States slide world of irrelevance relative to the rest of the world.
AMANPOUR: Neil DeGrasse Tyson, thank you so much for joining me.
TYSON: Yes. I’m sorry, I’m screaming at you half the time. I’m sorry, you got me started here.
AMANPOUR: And we like it. We like the passion. It’s important.
TYSON: Yes. Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Back down to earth now or be it with the heavenly sounds of strings. Daniel Hope is one of the world’s best violists, in demand
everywhere from east to west. And now, he’s opening up about the story behind his restless life.
A new film explores Daniel’s complex family history which flows from Nazi Germany to South Africa under apartheid and eventually to London. Here,
faith brought him to the legendary violinist, Yehudi Menuhi. And now, Daniel’s comes with his violin to our London studio for a little music and
some discussion about his fascinating history.
Daniel Hope, welcome to the program.
DANIEL HOPE, AWARD-WINNING VIOLINIST: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: You do have an extraordinary life story. Your film opens with you back in Germany and you are looking at family plot, the grave,
graveyard. Tell us what’s that about and the significance of that on your life story.
HOPE: Well, on my mother’s side, my family came from Berlin, they were Jews, they were kicked out of Germany in the 1930s. And it’s an
extraordinary story. My grandmother grew up in a house which was confiscated by the foreign minister at the time, von Ribbentrop, and turned
into the center for Nazi cryptology, kind of Bletchley Park.
So, my grandmother’s house became this extraordinary place. And I start to research about this many years ago —
AMANPOUR: And in fact, that’s it.
HOPE: That’s the house.
HOPE: And having found out more about in this and everything that went on in this house, I also started to research other members of family, and we
found a grave, beautiful plot in a Berlin cemetery. So, I went there to see if we could find out more about it. And I was amazed to find out that
there was an Egyptian gentleman who had wanted to buy it and to use it to be buried as a kind of a pharaoh, and I was able to intervene just in the
nick of time and get it back for our family.
AMANPOUR: So, you know own that property?
HOPE: Yes. Well, it still belongs to the government, in a sense, but we have the rights as the family. So, we’re able to now restore it, and it’s
one of the most beautiful, sort of tombs in Germany design by Fritz Chopper (ph), a very famous sculptor from the 19th century, and it has a lot of
history attached to it.
So, it’s about going back to the history, going back to the source.
AMANPOUR: And going back to your roots?
AMANPOUR: Because, in fact, your story is that you were born in South Africa.
AMANPOUR: Because of this persecution of your grandmother’s family in Nazi Germany, they fled to South Africa. And also, from another direction, your
father’s family ended up in South Africa. Tell us how they met and why South Africa?
HOPE: My father’s grandfather came from Ireland, ran away, at the turn of the century. Got on a ship, went to South Africa and had the idea to fight
with the British against Boers and stayed in South Africa.
And my father is a write, a wonderful writer and a very political person, and his books were banned under the apartheid regime. He was — he’s still
a fiercely political person, but at the time, antiapartheid. And so, were given a cycle exit permit, an exit visa, which was arouse in South Africa,
it meant that you could leave the country but you have to submit your passport and never come back again.
AMANPOUR: That’s it, goodbye, good riddance.
HOPE: Exactly. So, Right. Decided t| do that. My parents weren’t happy bringing up young children in an apartheid environment. And so, we came
back to Europe. But they had no money, they were out of money and they tried to make ends meet.
AMANPOUR: And they landed up right here in England.
HOPE: That’s right, in London.
AMANPOUR: And then, I think the most amazing thing, because clearly what brought you to music was your mother who became secretary to one of the
greatest violinists ever, right?
HOPE: Yes, yes.
AMANPOUR: Yehudi Menuhin.
AMANPOUR: Tell us that story. How on earth did that happen?
HOPE: Well, she went out to look for a job and —
AMANPOUR: Well, that’s you with him as a kid.
HOPE: That’s right, yes. And there were two offers that came her way, secretary to archbishop of Canterbury at the time and secretary to Yehudi
AMANPOUR: And she chose Menuhin.
HOPE: She chose Menuhin. And the funny thing was that the then archbishop of Canterbury had visited South Africa and had given a sermon and my
parents were both shocked that he did not distance himself from apartheid.
AMANPOUR: Oh, that’s a great story.
HOPE: And so, they said, never ever to the archbishop. And then, the offer came for Yehudi Menuhin and my mom said, you know, she — “How
difficult can it be.” And it was supposed to be a part-time job, six months, and she ended up being there for over 25 years.
AMANPOUR: Well, she did and you did. So, how did her being a secretary and managing his life lead to you — oh, look. I mean, he turned out to be
your mentor, your instructor, your teacher. How did that happen? How did — I mean, where do your musicality come from?
HOPE: Well, this was taken in Gstaad, in Switzerland, where Menuhin had this wonderful festival. We went there every summer. And my mom would
take me to all the rehearsals and concerts. I grew up listening to music. And the first orchestra I ever heard was this very chamber orchestra, for
example, as a young kid.
I never one day I’d be their music director. So, in a sense, everything happened — started there in Gstaad and here in London where Menuhin lived.
And at the age of four, having absorbed all this music, I demanded that I had to play the violin. And I said to my parents, “I have to play the
AMANPOUR: Which they must have loved, right?
HOPE: Well, I think, you know, if surrounded by music all the time, things like this can happen. That’s the great thing about music, it can inspire
children, it can open their minds. And I was determined. I just wanted to play. Yes, that’s it.
And I studied with Sheila Nelson, who is a great, great teacher. Yehudi Menuhin found this teacher for me, paid for the lessons as well. So, he
gave me that first chance. And for that, I’m eternally grateful.
AMANPOUR: So, just to be clear, Menuhin was so good that wasn’t it Einstein who said something about there must be a God. What does he
HOPE: Yes. When Menuhin gave his debut in Berlin in 1929 and he was 12 years old, Einstein rushed back and said to this 12-year-old boy, almost
falling on his knees, “Now, I know there’s a God in heaven.” That’s a much-used quote. But it’s true, there was nobody like Menuhin. And his
first explosion onto the international scene was unparalleled.
AMANPOUR: I just want to tell you, I encountered the great man when I was shop assistant down the road from here.
AMANPOUR: Yes. When I was 20 years old. And he came in and, of course, his wife came in because she’s quite — you know, she quite something. But
his aura was really, really present.
AMANPOUR: And it’s amazing to meet you today and to talk about him. Because you then went to the Menuhin Boarding School —
AMANPOUR: At the age of six.
HOPE: I was eight, in fact. Yes.
AMANPOUR: Eight, in fact.
AMANPOUR: And it was pretty dire, wasn’t it?
HOPE: Well, it was too early for me, you know. It’s now a very, very fine school.
[23:30:00] But at the time, you know, I didn’t really know what practice was. I didn’t know what the regime of making music was. I just wanted to
have fun and play.
And so it didn’t go down too well. I was very unruly. I have to spend too much time on one piece. And so I’m also boarding, I was homesick. And so
the whole thing was — it didn’t go well, put it that way.
AMANPOUR: Well, your mom, in fact, speaks very eloquently to the bits that didn’t go well. When she was called in by the teachers for some
disciplinary action and complaints about you, this is what she said as quoted in your film.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELEANOR HOPE, MOTHER OF DANIEL HOPE: Daniel had done something that was strictly forbidden and he held on to my chair and he said, “He was caught
practicing the Mendelssohn Concerto.” And I said I beg your pardon? Is that a crime? Was there something wrong with that? He said, “No. But he’s
far too young to be playing the Mendelssohn.” And I said what is he supposed to be playing? “He’s supposed to play the Bach A Minor.” And I
said, well, he’s been playing that for two years. Isn’t it time to move on? “No,” he said, “It’s certainly not. And what’s more? He was caught
practicing secretly in the bathroom.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOPE: That’s true.
AMANPOUR: She does give a great rendition of it, right.
HOPE: She does, yes.
AMANPOUR: I mean it seems absurd but I guess music and violin and the great to have a particular schedule that you’re meant to follow.
HOPE: That’s right. And, you know, it was too early for me. But I was frustrated because I love Mendelssohn. I wanted to play this piece and I
wasn’t allowed to. So I stole the music from a friend and I went to the communal bathroom. I locked myself in there and I started playing and it
probably sounded terrible. But it was the beginning of my love affair with Mendelssohn’s music. And to this day, when I play that piece, I still
think back to those memories.
AMANPOUR: You also think back very very profoundly to the memories of your ancestral home to Germany. You play a lot of music. You’re determined to
keep the spirit alive and also to keep those silenced Jewish composers alive, those were the Nazis tried to silence. And fast forward to Kaddish
which is the great mourning song for the dead —
AMANPOUR: — is one that you play often. This is by Maurice Ravel. And you also, I believe, played it for Menuhin at his deathbed.
HOPE: Not at his deathbed but his final concert, in fact, was in 1999, just a few days before he died very suddenly. And I played it as an encore
after we played together as a gesture because I grew up on his recording of the piece. In fact, it was the last time I saw him.
And so in hindsight, it became my own personal requiem or Kaddish for him. And ever since then, I’ve played it many times at very different occasions,
the Bundestag in Germany for example or to remember people in Thomas mom’s house in the film. We were lucky enough to get in there before it was sold
AMANPOUR: The great German writer?
HOPE: Yes. Just to remember certain moments in history. Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass have helped organize concerts in Germany to
remember that and often the Kaddish is the piece that I choose to share on those occasions.
AMANPOUR: You said, “It’s my personal Kaddish playing this” and what you did for Yehudi Menuhin. Do you feel Jewish?
HOPE: I feel like a big mixture. I’m Jewish, Catholic, Anglican, European.
AMANPOUR: Because, of course, I ask that because your family were Christians but of Jewish descent.
AMANPOUR: And you have dedicated so much of your professional life to keeping the spirits of great Jewish and Judaism alive.
HOPE: I feel an incredibly strong connection to that heritage. And my mother’s side, you know, it goes back to the first rabbi so it’s
inescapable in that sense and I’m very proud of it. But also, the Irish Catholic side, let’s say there’s a lot of deals in our family if you go
back far enough.
AMANPOUR: You have maybe the red hair of the Irish Catholic.
HOPE: Oh, that’s funny enough. That comes from the Jewish —
AMANPOUR: Well, there you go. What do I know? Would you like to play Kaddish for us?
HOPE: I’d love to.
[23:35:00] AMANPOUR: Beautiful. Sounds like tears.
AMANPOUR: I wonder, you know, as you play that which is a specific mourning song, whether you mourn a little bit for what’s happening back in
your homeland, Germany, what’s happening across Europe, the rise of the kind of politics that is a stone’s throw away from Nazi Germany.
HOPE: Yes. I think it’s a very troubling time in world history, not just in Europe but everywhere, the rise of the far-right. And I think the way
that the world has become much smaller with all of these benefits also means that things happen much faster. And they have — at least I have the
impression that they have a tendency to spiral out of control.
And so, you know, the two young children now — just had a new baby and a 4-year-old boy, I asked what’s going to happen to them? What’s their
future going to be, the future of Europe, the future of politics, the future your peace?
AMANPOUR: And yet you have gone to regain your German citizenship and you explained that you’ve gone to reclaim some of the family property there.
And in your film, you talk about, you know, what’s happening there. Almost like you went there, you sort of felt a little bit alien going back. I
just want to play the clip of what you said and actually, it’s in German.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(GERMAN LANGUAGE – CAPTIONS UNREADABLE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Well, that was obviously said a couple of years before we’re talking right now. Where were you? And you had this kind of premonition
of what we may be living through right now.
HOPE: That was at the museum in Lubeck, Germany in the Thomas Mann famous, the famous writer who was forced out of Germany as well, immigrated to the
United States. And it’s an extraordinary museum which looks at immigration and enforce of immigration and the whole history of that. And we’re seeing
that, of course, now in Germany that everywhere this whole idea of people on the move for whatever reason. And I think there is a great fear and
great worry in Europe. At the same time, I do believe very much in the European principles and I do consider myself a European or an Englishman
abroad, put it that way.
AMANPOUR: Your father became really the one who was behind you in taking you to your practice sessions and all your performances. And he said that
— I think he said that you almost had no personal life. Being a violinist from a very very young age meant that you sacrificed a lot.
HOPE: Of course, there are sacrifices that one has to make. At the same time, you know, both my parents were unbelievably supportive. My father
would write his books at the same time while I was practicing. He would keep an eye on me but would never force me. And it’s always an interesting
(INAUDIBLE) with parents to give that support without going too far.
But giving a child that chance to experience music, classical music, is one of the greatest joys that one can do. And I’m eternally grateful for that
chance. And I see it with my children as well. There’s something about classical music which infiltrates the soul and opens up the imagination.
AMANPOUR: Having said that, you know, there’s so much cutting and slashing of culture and music in art at schools today here and across Europe and
across the United States. And it’s also incredibly expensive. I mean the school that you went to, the Menuhin School, is actually very very
expensive. I think it’s something 55,000 pounds per year.
HOPE: Now it is.
AMANPOUR: Well, yes, now it is. Yes. [23:40:00] How can young children who don’t have that, you know, those means and yet might have a talent even
be exposed to music?
HOPE: You know there are many wonderful programs that give children instruments for free. For example, particularly in Germany where I live,
there are dozens of foundations that engage in young people and give them the chance. There’s one in the U.K. but also worldwide called Live Music
Now which brings — created by Menuhin, brings young musicians together with people who wouldn’t necessarily experience classical music, people in
old age homes, people in hospitals.
But more important than that, there are chances for them to get access to the music itself and that is the most important thing. So to all
politicians out there, I hope that you’ll consider not cutting anymore from the cultural budgets of the world.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And it seems that we need it more than ever right now with all the hard, you know, harsh environment that we all live in. Thank you,
HOPE: Thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: And the film “Daniel Hope, The Sound of Life” premiers here in the U.K. this week.
And now we pivot and peer away to dance where our next guest Damian Woetzel shines. Once the toast of the New York City Ballet, he has now left into a
new career as president of the historic Juilliard School in New York, a proving ground for the great actors, dancers, and musicians of tomorrow.
And he told our Walter Isaacson about his amazing career and why he and the cellist Yo-Yo Ma could unexpectedly drop into an American school near you
WALTER ISAACSON, CONTRIBUTOR: You had an education that was very wide- ranging because of your parents. It wasn’t focused on dance initially.
DAMIAN WOETZEL, PRESIDENT, JUILLIARD SCHOOL: No. I mean the whole concept really was just having the opportunity to engage with as many different
things and then we’ll see where it went. And I can assure you, ballet was not the intention. It was enrichment of a sort.
What I realized is that I like to be on stage and it happened to be a way to get on stage so I stuck with it. And as things went along, some things
stuck harder than others. And you know my brother. You’ve met him.
ISAACSON: You were both studying Chinese.
WOETZEL: We’re both studying Chinese.
ISAACSON: You’re both jamming —
WOETZEL: Jams and music and different instruments and lots of different opportunities as I said. But then, you know, as you get older, you start
to realize the one that really — where you have a foothold.
ISAACSON: But do you think a broad-based education and everything on the sciences of the humanities to the arts helps you be more creative?
WOETZEL: Oh, I think it’s essential. I think that the idea of creativity is all about how things go together. It’s not simply about focus on one
thing. It’s about having the — you know, about letting go of certitude and engaging in curiosity and saying ” Yes, I want to, you know, be as good
as I can at one thing” but it’s how it relates to everything else. That’s where the creativity actually comes.
ISAACSON: It was around age 15 I think when you had your first break from it, right. There was Young Apollo, was it?
ISAACSON: It was created for you. Explain that to me.
WOETZEL: Well, I grew up in Boston and my brother and I, as you said, have lots of different opportunities. And, you know, the story I love to tell
about this so you’re going to have to indulge me is that, you know, on one Saturday morning on the way to these things, he and I in the back of the
car looked at each other and I said, “I’m not going to Chinese anymore.” I just, you know, it’s just not — I’m going to spend more time at ballet.”
And he said, “Well, I’m not going to ballet anymore. I’m going to spend more time on Chinese” and he’s been a partner in McKinsey in China almost
30 years and I went on to be a ballet dancer.
And at that moment, which is I think I was 11 at that point, I really felt this is it. I’m going to be a dancer. I’m going to be a dancer. I just
felt it. And all the other things fed it in different ways but my — I started to narrow right at that moment. And at 15, as you said, I was
lucky enough to have an opportunity to make a New York debut at the Joyce Theater downtown on Eighth Avenue which had just opened as a house for
dance. And I had a nice reception, I guess and –
ISAACSON: Why did you want to come back to New York?
WOETZEL: New York, really the epicenter, you know. And it’s an image in my mind of like where the pulse is. And, you know, the New York City
Ballet founded by George Balanchine, Lincoln Kirstein, New York State Theater, Lincoln Center, all of that was here and that’s where I set my
ISAACSON: More important was Jerome Robbins do you come here?
WOETZEL: Well, increasingly so. It’s really the truth, you know. I think that as I grew up, I start to become more and more aware of what we call
the repertory and what might be considered classics and what might be considered bold and innovative. And through it all, your heroes start to
develop. [23:45:00] First as performers. That’s because I think when you’re engaging in an art form like ballet, you look at your heroes so you
And then what’s Misha dancing becomes the question. Yes, I know he dance swan-like but what’s that thing with the sailors? Nancy Free, Jerome
Robbins. I remember seeing photos of Misha doing that piece and, of course, I knew something like West Side Story. And then it was, “Oh, wait.
Same guy? Wait.” And that’s — you know, this is childlike.
But suddenly, I’m here in New York and Jerome Robbins is walking around. And the history is the present. And so I was lucky enough to not only work
with Jerry but he really in some ways identified me and brought me into the company.
ISAACSON: What was your favorite Jerome Robbins performances or roles that he played?
WOETZEL: Well, there’s two to that come to mind instantly. One I mentioned, Fancy Free. It was Jerry’s debut as a choreographer in
collaboration with Leonard Bernstein and we happened to be talking in their anniversary year, their centennial.
ISAACSON: Right. Leonard Bernstein.
WOETZEL: Leonard Bernstein and Jerome Robbins as well. And so these —
ISAACSON: They worked together very closely here in Lincoln Center?
WOETZEL: Well, in those days, Lincoln Center wasn’t here yet. But Jerry made Fancy Free with Lenny as a collaboration and it’s an extraordinary
story. You know they’re young guys on the cusp of greatness and there they are making this thing. One of the treasured possessions I have are
recordings of how Leonard Bernstein would make a recording.
And I picture it happening in some kind of very down at the heels recording studio in Times Square but it records and he sent Jerry a record of the
latest music of Fancy Free with this piano score to choreograph out on the road because Jerry was like on tour. And then — so you’d hear this, you
know, piano and then Jerry would take the microphone and talk. And he’d say, “Dear Jerry, you know, I hope you can understand this and understand
And on one of these recordings — so I’ll give you a sense of this extraordinary legacy. He said, “I hope you can understand this particular
section. It’s really a mess with the pianos and it’s all Aaron Copeland’s fault” and you hear somebody laughing in the back.
ISAACSON: And that was Aaron Copeland?
WOETZEL: — playing two pianos with Leonard Bernstein.
ISAACSON: Oh, wow. Wow. And so you posted that in City — at City Ballet?
WOETZEL: Yes. Yes. When I first joined New York City Ballet, it was a ballet that Jerry called me to very early and it’s a story about three
sailors on shore leave. Later, a second version was a Broadway show on the town. You may know, New York, New York but first came Fancy Free. And it
was really just that mighty, mighty yacht, damn, they arrived. You know, countless curtain calls.
And these young guys — and Jerry was in it as a dancer and he did this sailor. He was, you know, did a rumba dance and the other sailors like a
kid from Kansas is kind of dreamy. Another one is a little bit Russian tumble short guy who’s got a lot of energy. And Jerry would create these
characters. So Fancy Free.
ISAACSON: You said you retired in 2008. You didn’t really retire.
ISAACSON: You broaden your aperture again. It was just like going back to your childhood where you became interested in everything, in society and
combining them. Explain, you know, what was your thought process there.
WOETZEL: Well, as I became the dancer I became, I was lucky enough to start to widen at a certain point and I started being the arts guy in the
room, in a room of many things. I would get to go to conferences or what have you and talk about the role of the arts in society and in an
aspirational way, as well as a realistic way.
And it grew out of so many things that I believed in benefited me coming to a place like New York and ending up at Lincoln Center, and understanding
the history of Lincoln Center, and how that’s wedded to the history of New York City itself. So I started engaging about that particularly, you know,
the obvious touch points, education for instance, where is the arts in education someone like myself benefited so greatly from having that
ISAACSON: Do you worry that we’re losing arts in the schools?
WOETZEL: Of course. Yes. I mean I spent a lot of energy and time trying to work on that, talk about that, turnaround arts program which I know
you’ve seen in action. It’s created by President Obama’s Committee on Arts and Humanities expressly for making sure that arts reach the most
challenged school districts in this country.
ISAACSON: And tell me, you do art strikes with Yo-Yo Ma sometimes, Lil Buck Reilly. What does that mean?
WOETZEL: So Yo-Yo and I dreamt up this concept of art strike and it simply was that that idea that you can have a massive impact in a short amount of
time if you focus your energy and you have the right collaborative partners essentially. And kind of the principle of it was that a visiting artist
[23:50:00] of any kind will often have enough time to do something in a community that they’re not ordinarily in.
So we literally said on the way to the airport why not stop at a school? You know, it was kind of like that. And that’s an art strike possibility.
ISAACSON: So what, you just rushed into a school?
WOETZEL: Well, you know, you have to lay a little groundwork. The idea of a presenter can say, you know, would you take the time while you’re here
doing your performance of whatever kind it is to do a little bit of community work and we’ll partner you with something. So Yo-Yo and I tried
this out in L.A. about, I don’t know, seven or eight years ago. He had a concert at Disney Hall.
And before he went to the airport as it were, we went to a magical place called Inner-City Arts down in Skid Row, downtown Los Angeles and it’s sort
of an oasis for arts education. Students from the general vicinity are — they come on buses and they spend time there and they engage in music and
dance and visual arts and drama. And it literally is like a garage door goes up and you go in and you’re like this is heaven.
ISAACSON: It culminates with you coming here to Juilliard, not a typical choice. A dancer taking over Juilliard but everything you just explained
to me seems to be part of the great vision for Juilliard which is connecting it.
WOETZEL: After my “retirement” and dancing in 2008, I was so lucky I did – – you know, I was directing performances, I was doing art strikes with Yo- Yo, I was working on arts education. I ended up working for you at the Aspen Institute in an arts policy program, really looking at ways that we
can really push the arts in society.
And a lot of the same people kind of start to filter into this conversation on all the sides, whether they’re — you know, we’re doing the performance
at Lincoln Center or we’re talking at an arts education conference or, you know, Yo-Yo and there’s Lil Buck and there’s — they start to emerge. And
I was very intentional about keeping the opportunity to do all these different things.
But then this idea came to me about Juilliard and it just was like lightning. I just thought, “Well, that’s where it all can happen. It can
all happen.” It’s the cradle if you will. It’s not only the artists, individuals that we can nurture and give all these opportunities to broaden
and narrow and broaden and narrow and to give them the opportunity to develop their voices as artists and as citizens of the global world. Oh my
God, I just thought and it’s dance and it’s a drama and it’s music in the same building and it’s right here. And that vision I thought of when I
moved here that New York is like this and to me, that’s Juilliard.
ISAACSON: And I’m sure you’re not going to keep it in the building.
WOETZEL: No. We’re already outside. We’ve done our version of art strike on open up the garage door the other day on 66th Street. And the fire
company came and put their truck in front and we had a jazz concert and people were dancing. And it was like this is, you know, that utopia that
you hope for that people are engaging and they’re finding ways that it’s a part of their lives.
And it’s the role of the artist in my mind, not only to perfect their craft but to take what they have and to give it to others in ways that you can’t
imagine. And you can always add more, be collaborative beyond collaborative, to say what does this have to do with this, let’s overlap
these things and see what we can make. And Juilliard has, you know, this is the place that can be — it creates the artists, it gives them the
opportunities and then it sends them out into the world.
ISAACSON: Damien, thanks for being with us. Appreciate it.
That’s it for our program tonight.
Thanks for watching ‘Amanpour and Company.’
Join us next week.
To play us out, a little more hope.
Daniel Hope, that is.