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Osmo Vänskä /// Music Director

Stephen Hough


Stephen Hough

Stephen Hough is regarded as a Renaissance man of his time. Over the course of his career he has distinguished himself as a true polymath, not only securing a reputation as a uniquely insightful concert pianist but also as a writer and composer. Mr. Hough is commended for his mastery of the instrument as well as an individual and inquisitive mind that has earned him a multitude of prestigious awards and a longstanding international following.

Mr. Hough became the first classical performing artist to win a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2001. He was awarded the 2008 Northwestern University’s Jean Gimbel Lane Prize in Piano and went on to win the Royal Philharmonic Society Instrumentalist Award in 2010, and in December 2013, he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). Since taking first prize at the 1983 Naumburg Competition in New York, Mr. Hough has appeared with major American and European orchestras and has given recitals at the most prestigious concert halls around the world. He has given recitals in Beijing, Berlin, Chicago, Dublin, Hong Kong, London, Milan, Montreal, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Stockholm, Sydney, and Tokyo. He has appeared with the BBC, Czech, London, Los Angeles, Netherlands, New York, and Royal philharmonics; the Atlanta, Baltimore, BBC, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Montreal, National, NHK, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Toronto symphonies; and the Budapest Festival, Cleveland, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Russian National, and Tonhalle Zürich orchestras. He is a regular guest at festivals such as Aldeburgh, Aspen, Blossom, Edinburgh, Hollywood Bowl, Mostly Mozart, Musica Viva, Ravinia, Salzburg, Tanglewood, Verbier, and the BBC Proms, where he has made more than twenty-five concerto appearances. In 2018 he was Artist-in-Residence with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, where he performed a Beethoven Concerto cycle, and his recent recitals include appearances at New York’s Carnegie Hall and London’s Royal Festival Hall, among others.

This season, Mr. Hough continues his focus in recent seasons on the Beethoven concertos, performing No. 3 with the Naples (Florida) Philharmonic; No. 4 with BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Cape Town Philharmonic; No. 5 (“Emperor”) with the Phoenix and Tokyo Symphonies, and all five concertos over two days with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. He also performs Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Cleveland and Minnesota Orchestras; Saint-Saëns’s Piano Concerto No. 5 (“The Egyptian”) with the Colorado Symphony and the Hallé; and Dvořák’s Piano Concerto with the Rochester and Vienna Philharmonics. Additionally he performs Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Taiwan Philharmonic on its U.S. tour to Costa Mesa, San Diego, and Seattle, as well as with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in Glasgow. He performs solo recitals in Hong Kong, Ontario, Tokyo, and across the U.K.

Mr. Hough has composed for orchestra, choir, chamber ensemble, and solo piano, and his compositions are published by Josef Weinberger, Ltd. This season, he gives the world premiere of his Sonata No. 4 (“Vida Breve”) on a recital program that also includes works by Debussy, Chopin, and Beethoven at Atlanta’s Spivey Hall. He subsequently performs his sonata in recitals throughout the U.K. In Bilbao, Spain, the Euskadi Symphony gives the world premiere of AGATA: A Basque Fantasy for orchestra, which was inspired by the sounds of the Basque Country and features the txistu, a traditional Basque flute, in a solo role. Among his more than 40 published compositions are The Loneliest Wilderness, a cello concerto premiered by Steven Isserlis and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic in 2007; Was mit den Tränen geschieht, commissioned by members of the Berlin Philharmonic, which received its world premiere at the Berlin Philharmonie in 2009; and the string sextet Requiem Aeternam (after Victoria), commissioned by the National Gallery for their 2009 exhibition, “The Sacred Made Real: Spanish Painting and Sculpture, 1600–1700.” Among his numerous choral works are “Mass of Innocence and Experience” and “Missa Mirabilis,” respectively commissioned by and performed at London’s Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral. In 2012, the Indianapolis Symphony commissioned and performed Mr. Hough’s own orchestration of “Missa Mirabilis,” which was subsequently performed by the BBC Symphony as part of Mr. Hough’s residency with the orchestra. “Missa Mirabilis” was recorded by the Colorado Symphony and Chorus for Hyperion, and both masses were performed by the Minneapolis-based choral group VocalEssence in 2017. Mr. Hough’s piano sonatas also include broken branches (2011), notturno luminoso (2012), and Sonata III (Trinitas) (2015). He performs broken branches on an all-Hough recording for BIS that also has The Loneliest Wilderness with Steven Isserlis and the Tapiola Sinfonietta, Was mit Tränen geschieht, Un Piccolo Sonatina (for solo piccolo), Bridgewater (for bassoon and piano), and Herbstlieder (for baritone and piano). He recorded his second sonata notturno luminoso for his “In the Night” album on Hyperion; premiered his Sonata for Cello and Piano, Left Hand (Les Adieux) with Steven Isserlis in 2013, and recorded the work for Hyperion two years later.

Mr. Hough’s recent recordings for Hyperion include his first all-Debussy album, released to mark the centennial of the composer’s death, which Mr. Hough also honored in recital and in writing; and the Dream Album, a collection of short pieces by over a dozen composers, including Liszt, Dvořák, Sibelius, and Mr. Hough—the most represented composer on the recording, both in terms of original works and transcriptions. The works selected for the recording bear personal meaning, from his favorite encores, to pieces from his childhood, to works written for friends. Many of Mr. Hough’s over 60 albums Hyperion have garnered international prizes including the Deutscher Schallplattenpreis, Diapason d’Or, Monde de la Musique, several Grammy nominations, and eight Gramophone Magazine Awards including the 1996 and 2003 “Record of the Year” Awards and the 2008 “Gold Disc” Award, which named his complete Saint-Saëns piano concertos the best recording of the past 30 years. His 2012 recording of the complete Chopin waltzes received the Diapason d’Or de l’Année, France’s most prestigious recording award. In the course of the Liszt bicentenary in 2012, Mr. Hough’s recordings of the Liszt Piano Sonata and Années de Pèlerinage: Suisse were recommended on BBC Radio 3’s “Building a Library.” His 2004 live recording of the Rachmaninoff piano concertos was the fastest-selling recording in Hyperion’s history, while his 1987 recording of the Hummel concertos remains Chandos’ best-selling disc to date. In addition to the all-Debussy recording and Dream Album, recent releases on Hyperion include the Dvořák and Schumann piano concertos with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra conducted by Andris Nelsons, a solo recording pairing works by Scriabin and Janáček and a recording of Grieg’s Lyric Pieces. Mr. Hough is the featured artist in an iPad and Apple TV app on the Liszt Sonata in B Minor, which includes a fully filmed performance and commentary, released by TouchPress.

A noted writer, Mr. Hough has contributed articles for The New York Times, The Guardian, The Times (UK), The Tablet, Gramophone, and BBC Music Magazine. For seven years, until 2016, he wrote more than six hundred articles for his blog on The Telegraph, which became one of the most popular and influential forums for cultural discussion. Mr. Hough's first novel The Final Retreat published by Sylph Editions, was released in 2018, and his book The Bible as Prayer was published by Continuum and Paulist Press in 2007. Also an avid painter, Mr. Hough gave his first exhibition in London at the Notting Hill–based Broadbent Gallery in 2012. Entitled “Appassionato,” this solo show displayed nearly twenty abstract acrylic paintings dating from 2007.

Mr. Hough resides in London and is a visiting professor at the Royal Academy of Music and Juilliard. He holds the International Chair of Piano Studies at his alma mater, the Royal Northern College in Manchester, and he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Liverpool in 2011. More: