Paul Daniel was born in Birmingham. As a boy, he sang in the choir of Coventry Cathedral, where he received musical training. He attended King's College, Cambridge, where he studied music. After graduation he went on to learn conducting at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, where his teachers included Sir Adrian Boult and Sir Edward Downes.
In 1982, he received a position on the musical staff of the English National Opera, remaining there until 1987. In the late 1980s, he was Musical Director of a number of amateur choirs, including Wokingham Choral Society, often featuring his future wife, the soprano Joan Rodgers.
From 1987 to 1990, he was music director of Opera Factory. From 1990 to 1997, he was Musical Director of Opera North and Principal Conductor of the English Northern Philharmonia. He attracted attention for his work in neglected operas and newer repertory. The former included Dukas' Ariane et Barbe-bleue, Tippett's King Priam, Franz Schreker's Der Ferne Klang, Korngold's Violanta, and Britten's Gloriana. He conducted Opera North in its 1992 debut at The Proms with Boris Godunov. The latter included conducting the world premieres of Michael Berkeley's Baa, Baa, Black Sheep and Benedict Mason's Playing Away, which was premiered at the Munich Biennale and won awards for best production and design.
He became Music Director of English National Opera in September 1997 He encountered difficulty early in his tenure at ENO, with the departure of Dennis Marks as ENO's general director about a month after Daniel's own arrival. This forced Daniel unexpectedly to assume a more public role as the artistic face of the organization, until the arrival of Nicholas Payne as general director. One analysis of this situation was that this additional work distracted Daniel from developing a fuller rapport with the orchestra. In December 2003, Daniel announced his resignation from ENO at the end of his contract in 2005. In addition, towards the later part of his tenure, there were reports of clashes between Daniel and ENO artistic director Sean Doran. He expressed concerns about the future of ENO in an April 2005 interview with The Guardian, which led to ENO's Director of Marketing, Ian McKay, booing Daniel at the conductor's last performance as ENO music director. His work at ENO included the world premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage's The Silver Tassie, which ENO and Daniel recorded for commercial release.
Daniel first guest-conducted the West Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO) in 1995, and returned in April 2006. In May 2007, he was named the WASO's next Principal Conductor, effective as of January 2009, with an initial contract through December 2011. In November 2010, the WASO announced the extension of Daniel's contract as principal conductor through December 2013, at which time he concluded his WASO tenure.
Daniel became principal guest conductor of the Real Filharmonía de Galicia (Santiago de Compostela) in 2007. In January 2012, he was named the orchestra's next principal conductor and artistic adviser, as of January 2013, with an initial contract of 3 years. In July 2012, the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine (ONBA) announced the appointment of Daniel as its next music director, effective with the 2013–2014 season. He had previously guest-conducted the ONBA in 2006 and 2011. In May 2017, the ONBA announced the extension of Daniel's contract through 2021.
His honours include receiving an Olivier Award in February 1998 for outstanding achievement in opera, and a Gramophone Award in 1999 for his English music series on Naxos Records. He was awarded the CBE in the 2000 New Year’s Honours list. In September 2005, Daniel conducted the Last Night of the Proms for the first time.
Daniel has two daughters from his past marriage to opera singer Joan Rodgers. The marriage ended in divorce. His commercial recordings, which include performances with Rodgers, are featured on a number of record labels, including Chandos, Naxos, Linn, and Aeon.
- "Birthdays for 5 July 2003". The Times, 5 July 2003.
- Christopher Morley (16 February 2007). "Daniel's forever young". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 19 February 2007.
- Richard Morrison, "An operatic baton charge". The Times, 21 January 2003.
- Rupert Christiansen (11 May 2005). "The arts column: Daniel's trials in the ENO lions' den". Telegraph. Retrieved 16 March 2007.
- Rupert Christiansen (5 December 2003). "ENO musical director resigns". Telegraph. Retrieved 19 February 2007.
- Mark Honigsbaum (30 November 2005). "Chaos at the Coliseum after shock resignation of ENO artistic director". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 February 2007.
- Rupert Christiansen (22 December 2005). "Chairman of opera house defends his record as he quits". Telegraph. Retrieved 19 February 2007.
- Charlotte Higgins (22 April 2005). "House of pain". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 February 2007.
- Charlotte Higgins (22 April 2005). "Outgoing ENO boss speaks out". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 February 2007.
- Richard Jinman (9 June 2005). "ENO chief follows up boos with apology". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 February 2007.
- Edward Greenfield (12 July 2002). "Turnage, The Silver Tassie". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
- Harriet Cunningham, "Paul Daniel named principal conductor in Perth". Gramophone, 21 May 2007.
- Stephen Bevis, "English maestro to conduct WASO". The West Australian, 17 May 2007.
- "Paul Daniel to continues as WASO's Principal Conductor" (PDF) (Press release). West Australian Symphony Orchestra. 9 November 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 March 2012. Retrieved 25 February 2012.
- "WASO announces Principal Conductor and Artistic Adviser" (PDF) (Press release). West Australian Symphony Orchestra. 3 May 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 April 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
- "Paul Daniel sustituirá a Ros Marbà al frente de la Real Filharmonía". Santiago Siete. 25 January 2012. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014. Retrieved 25 February 2012.
- "Nommé directeur artistique et musical de l'Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine, Paul Daniel prendra ses fonctions en septembre 2013" (PDF) (Press release). Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine. 15 July 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 July 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
- "Paul Daniel prolonge sa collaboration avec l'ONBA" (PDF) (Press release). Opéra National Bordeaux. 25 May 2017. Retrieved 2017-05-28.
- Rupert Christiansen (2005-09-12). "Bigger, and even better". Telegraph. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
- Tom Service (2005-09-12). "Last Night of The Proms: BBCSO and Chorus/Daniel (Royal Albert Hall, London)". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
- Richard Kay (27 August 2009). "Opera diva Joan Rodgers hits a new pitch". Daily Mail. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
- Tim Ashley (2006-10-20). "Poulenc: The Carmelites, Wyn-Davies/ Boylan/ Barstow/ Palmer/ ENO Orch and Chorus/ Daniel". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-03-13.
- Andrew Clements (2008-03-07). "Bainton: Concerto Fantasia; The Golden River; etc, Fingerhut/ BBCPO/ Daniel". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-03-13.
- Stephen Pritchard (2010-09-25). "Various: Works for flute and orchestra – Katherine Bryan (flute), Royal Scottish National Orchestra/ Daniel". The Observer. Retrieved 2012-03-13.
- Andrew Clements (2011-12-22). "Barber: Knoxville: Summer of 1915; Berlioz: Les Nuits d'Eté; Britten: Les Illuminations – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-03-13.
- Groves Artists agency page on Paul Daniel
- West Australian Symphony Orchestra page on Paul Daniel
- "Paul Daniel takes Spanish appointment". Ingpen & Williams agency press release, January 2012
| Music Director, Opera North
Elgar Howarth (Music Advisor)
| Music Director, English National Opera
| Principal Conductor and Artistic Adviser, Real Filharmonía de Galicia
| Music Director, Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine