Stephen Hough



Competition Winner

Born: November 22, 1961 (Heswall, United Kingdom)

Sir Stephen Hough is widely recognized as one of the most distinguished artists of his era, holding simultaneous careers as a pianist, composer, and writer. Named by The Economist as one of the Twenty Living Polymaths, Hough's accolades include the MacArthur Fellowship (2001) and Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2014. He has also received the Jean Gimbel Lane Prize in Piano from Northwestern University (2008), the Royal Philharmonic Society Instrumentalist Award (2010), and was conferred Honorary Membership of the RPS in 2016.

Since winning the Naumburg Competition in 1983, Hough has performed with the world's top orchestras and given recitals at major concert halls. He's a regular guest at prestigious festivals such as Salzburg, La Roque-d'Anthéron, Mostly Mozart, Edinburgh, and BBC Proms, where he has made over twenty appearances.

Hough's engagements span across global venues, from recitals in Chicago, Hong Kong, London's Royal Festival Hall, and New York’s Carnegie Hall, to performances with the Czech, London, and New York Philharmonics, among other esteemed orchestras. His association with major music festivals extends to Aldeburgh, Aspen, Blossom, Edinburgh, and the Hollywood Bowl, to name a few.

Hough's impressive discography of more than 60 albums has won multiple international awards. His 1996 and 2003 records were named 'Record of the Year' by Gramophone Magazine, and his complete Saint-Saens Piano Concertos recording earned him the Gramophone 'Gold Disc' Award in 2008. His 2012 recording of the complete Chopin Waltzes received France’s most prestigious recording award, the Diapason d’Or de l’Annee.

In addition to his performance career, Hough has composed works for a variety of ensembles. His compositions include a Naumburg commission, Partita for piano, for pianist Albert Cano Smit, Naumburg Award winner 2017; "Mass of Innocence and Experience" and "Missa Mirabilis," commissioned by and performed at London’s Westminster Abbey and Cathedral, as well as works for the Cliburn Foundation, Takacs Quartet and others. His works have been performed by the likes of the BBC Symphony and musicians of the Berlin Philharmonic.

Hough also contributes regularly to publications such as The Guardian, The Times, and BBC Music Magazine, and has written a blog for The Telegraph, one of the most popular forums for cultural discussion. He is the author of several books, including The Bible as Prayer and The Final Retreat. His Rough Ideas: Reflections on Music and More won a 2020 Royal Philharmonic Society Award, and his memoir Enough: Scenes from Childhood was published by Faber in the spring of 2023.

He lives in London, where he serves as a visiting professor at the Royal Academy of Music and holds the International Chair of Piano Studies at his alma mater, the Royal Northern College in Manchester. He also teaches at The Juilliard School.

Hough's solo Wigmore Hall recital in 2020 was the UK's first live classical music concert in a major venue after the nationwide lockdown earlier in 2020.

Sir Stephen, was given the knighthood, award for services to music in the Queen's Birthday Honour's List 2022, by King Charles III. He is the first British-born classical pianist to be made a Sir since Sir Cliffor Curzon in 1977.

Excerpt from The New York Times review, November 5, 1985

Concert: Stephen Hough

"Reading the list of Walter W. Naumburg Foundation winners since 1925 can soothe the competition process's sourest of enemies, at least for a minute or two. Large numbers of Naumburg successes really seem to have added to the substance of professional musical life - Adele Marcus (1928), Jorge Bolet (1937), William Kapell and Robert Mann (both 1941), Joseph Silverstein (1960) and Lucy Shelton (1980).

Last Wednesday, the Naumburg Foundation celebrated its 60th season with a recital by Stephen Hough, a pianist from Britain and winner in 1983, at Alice Tully Hall. Mr. Hough fits nicely into the general profile of past Naumburg products, in whom sophistication and solidity have tended to prevail over glamour or explosive personality. Indeed, Mr. Hough is a musician of such extraordinary refinement that his virtues may end up as an impediment to the ''big career.''

In three Scarlatti sonatas and four Mendelssohn ''Songs Without Words,'' dynamic levels were unusually low; yet Mr. Hough's sense of style and his technical ability to control detail played very softly, often at very high speeds, gave these pieces not just a musical presence, but also somehow an acoustical one - a presence that was more vivid than any of the foot-stamping outbursts that occurred later in the evening. Mr. Hough, in other words, seems to convey sound more palpably at sotto voce than at fortissimo.

Mr. Hough is a pianist of uncommon ability... he seemed a less than victorious heaven-stormer but a wonderful manipulator of understatement. It is the kind of talent some of us will cherish.. Ben Weber's ''Fantasia' (Op. 25), was beautifully colored, but it was at the end in Liapunov's ''Ronde des Sylphes'' that the really cherishable elements of Mr. Hough's qualities came together. Here the most intricate double-note passagework at blinding speeds had not only perfect clarity, but also the easy, confident joy of a man who loves not only the piano but music, as well." Bernard Holland

Sir Stephen Hough knighted by King Charles at Windsor


1983 Piano Competition

First Prize

Commissioned Works

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Naumburg Performances

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Recording Awards

1983 Philip Naumburg Solo Recording Prize (Stephen Hough)

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