Daniel Snowman: writer, lecturer, broadcaster

Daniel Snowman lecturingDaniel Snowman is a social and cultural historian. He was born in London, educated at Cambridge and Cornell, and at 24 was a Lecturer at the University of Sussex. For many years, he worked at the BBC where he was responsible for a wide variety of radio series on cultural and historical topics.  Since 2004, Daniel has held a Senior Research Fellowship at the Institute of Historical Research (University of London) for whom he has given lectures, organised and chaired both academic and public Seminars and recorded a succession of interviews with leading fellow historians. In 2019, he joined the Committee of the Friends of the IHR.

A long-time member of the London Philharmonic Choir (1967-2015), he has always had a strong and informed interest in music and musicians, his books on the Amadeus Quartet and Plácido Domingo combining close-up portraiture of the artists concerned with the broader brush of the social historian.

Recent books include a study of the cultural impact of the ‘Hitler Emigrés’, a collection of critical essays on the life and work of today's leading historians and a brief biography of Verdi. Daniel's 2009 book The Gilded Stage: A Social History of Opera has been published throughout the English-speaking world and is now available in Italian, Spanish and Chinese and is currently planned to appear in a number of other languages.

Daniel Snowman is a frequent lecturer at arts festivals, academic and cultural institutions, luncheon clubs etc, and in a typical year delivers some 40–50 illustrated talks and lectures across the UK and abroad.Since 1999 he has delivered over 600 illustrated lectures to members of The Arts Society formerly NADFAS; In 2002 and again in 2006 he undertook a two-month, round-the-world lecture-and-research tour, including visits to various parts of Australia, New Zealand and North America. Daniel has also lectured for the Royal Opera (Covent Garden), Glyndebourne, English National Opera, the New York Metropolitan Opera Guild and Los Angeles Opera. In winter 2010/11, he delivered a six-part series of public lectures at the Royal Academy of Music on the Social History of Opera, and in 2017 presented a 12-week (36-session) course on the history of opera at the Victoria and Albert Museum to accompany their major exhibition on the subject – a lecture series he repeated at the V&A in 2018.

Daniel has also lectured on cruise liners, and between 2001 and 2014 he led over 50 music tours (for companies such as Cox & Kings, Martin Randall and ACE) to major international venues, including Aix-en-Provence, Barcelona., Berlin, Bregenz, Budapest, Cracow, Dresden, Halle, Leipzig, Madrid, Milan, Munich, Naples, New York, Paris, Prague, Riga, Rome, Salzburg, Savonlinna, Seville/Andalucia, Stockholm, Torre del Lago, Turin, Valencia, Venice, Vienna and Warsaw.


Daniel is Project Consultant to the UK-wide festival in 2019/20 to mark the contribution to British cultural and intellectual life of the 'Hitler Emigrés.' Insiders/Outsiders Festival site.

Daniel will be presenting a 2-month lecture course on "Victorian Britain: Music and the Arts", 6th May - 1st July 2021

What the critics say about The Gilded Stage

‘Surely the most comprehensive history of opera ever written... This wonderful book will become the standard history of opera’
Sir Charles Mackerras

‘Companionable, crisp, witty, its broad research lightly dispensed, The Gilded Stage embodies Daniel Snowman's challenge to meld social and artistic history’
Warren Keith Wright, OPERA

‘A box of delights for operamanes and the cloth-eared curious alike’
Patrick Gale The Independent

‘A mighty achievement, by far and away the best history of opera available’
Tim Blanning, Literary Review

‘Daniel Snowman's magnificently comprehensive, joyously readable The Gilded Stage: A Social History of Opera is by far the best, certainly the most enjoyable one-volume survey of the subject to have been published…’
Michael Quinn, The Stage

‘This compulsively readable book... Daniel Snowman's social history of opera swarms with intriguing insights.’
Neville Cohen, The West Australian

‘Snowman's ambitious and meticulously researched undertaking…’
Joanne Sydney Lesser, Opera News

‘This comprehensive, scholarly and witty book.’
Brian Maye, The Irish Times Weekend Review

‘This charmingly written and endlessly fascinating book...  What a treasure this book is!’
American Record Guide

‘A tremendous achievement... A wonderful book for any music lover’
Roger Parker, Professor of Music, King's College, London

‘...witty, erudite, but effortlessly readable’
Aveek Sen, The Telegraph (Calcutta)

‘A treat to read’
The Scotsman

‘...told with fantastic adecdotal brio’
The Daily Express

‘This glorious book’
Saga Magazine

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