Stephen Hough

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Hough in Cleveland in 2010

Stephen Andrew Gill Hough, CBE (/ˈhʌf/;[1] born 22 November 1961) is a British-born classical pianist, composer and writer. He became an Australian citizen in 2005 and thus has dual nationality (his father was born in Australia in 1926).[2]


Hough was born in Heswall (then in Cheshire) on the Wirral Peninsula, and grew up in Hoylake, where he began piano lessons at the age of five. In 1978, he was a finalist in the BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition and won the piano section. In 1982, he won the Terence Judd Award in England. In 1983, he took first prize at the Naumburg International Piano Competition in New York City.

Hough holds a Master's degree from the Juilliard School where his studies were assisted by the receipt of the first ever Royal Philharmonic Society Julius Isserlis Scholarship for study abroad. He has studied with Heather Slade-Lipkin, Gordon Green, and Derrick Wyndham. He is also a composer and transcriber, and often includes his own works in his recitals. The premiere of his cello concerto, written for Steven Isserlis, took place in March 2007, and in the summer of the same year Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral performed masses he wrote for them.[3] In 2009 his trio for piccolo, contrabassoon and piano ('Was mit den Traenen Geschieht') was premiered at the Philharmonie in Berlin by members of the Berlin Philharmonic. His song cycles 'Herbstleider' (2007) and 'Other Love Songs' (2010) were premiered and recorded by members of The Prince Consort. His 'Sonata for Piano (broken branches)' was premiered by himself at the Wigmore Hall in 2011. In 2012 the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and Symphonic Choir gave the world premiere of the orchestrated version of his Missa Mirabilis.

He is an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he is a visiting Professor, and a Fellow of the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, where he is the International Chair of piano studies.

He became the first classical music performer to be awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2001, joining prominent writers and scientists who have made significant contributions in their fields. In 2009 he was named by The Economist and Intelligent Life magazines as one of 20 living polymaths. In 2010 he was named Instrumentalist of the Year at the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards. He was given an honorary doctorate by the University of Liverpool in 2011. He is a Governor of the Royal Ballet Companies (The Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and the Royal Ballet School). He is a patron of the charity The Nightingale Project, which takes music and art into hospitals[4] and of Music in Prisons (Irene Taylor Trust).[5] He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2014 New Year Honours for services to music.[6][7]

He had a solo exhibition of his paintings at the Broadbent Gallery in London in October 2012.[8]


Hough has appeared as a soloist with major orchestras around the world including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Dallas Symphony, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Toronto Symphony, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the St. Louis Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic, the English Chamber Orchestra, the NHK Symphony Orchestra, Malaysian Philharmonic, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.

As recitalist Hough has appeared on the major stages of the world including Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium, Chicago's Symphony Hall, London's Royal Festival Hall and the main stage of the Concertgebouw. He has appeared at festivals worldwide including Verbier, Salzburg, Edinburgh, Aldeburgh, the Proms, Mostly Mozart (New York), Sapporo, Ravinia, Blossom, Tanglewood, Aspen, Hollywood Bowl and Saratoga.

As chamber musician he has worked with Steven Isserlis, Joshua Bell, Michael Collins and Tabea Zimmermann, as well as the Juilliard Quartet, the Emerson Quartet, the Takacs Quartet, and the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet.


He has made over 50 CDs, one of his most notable being a set of the four Rachmaninoff Piano Concertos and the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, recorded during live performances with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra under the baton of then music director Andrew Litton, which have been compared to the recordings by the composer himself. These recordings won him his seventh Gramophone Award as well as the Classical BRIT Critics Award.

His recording of the five Saint-Saëns concertos won the Gramophone Record of the Year in 2001, and was later voted the Gold Disc, "winner of winners" in a poll commemorating 30 years of the award.[9]

His recording of the Complete Chopin Waltzes won the Diapason d'Or de l'Année in 2011

His own compositions can be heard on a CD called Broken Branches from BIS Records and on the Prince Consort's CD Other Love Songs on LINN Records.

Teaching and writing[edit]

He is a visiting professor of piano at the Royal Academy of Music in London and the International Chair of Piano Studies at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.

He joined the Roman Catholic Church when he was 19. He has written about his homosexuality and its relationship with both his music-making and his religion.[10][11] He has also published The Bible as Prayer: a handbook for lectio divina.[12]

In 2008 he won the Sixth International Poetry Competition.[13]

He has a blog at the Telegraph newspaper's website.

Selected discography[edit]


External links[edit]