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Named by The Economist as one of 20 Living Polymaths, British pianist Stephen Hough is a true renaissance man - a leading concert pianist, writer, composer and painter. He has won global acclaim for his outstanding interpretations of the piano repertoire.
Born on the Wirral in 22 November 1961, Stephen Hough began piano lessons at the age of five. In 1978, he was a finalist in the Young Musician of the Year Competition, winning the piano section.
As a recitalist, Hough has appeared on the major stages of the world including Carnegie Hall, Chicago's Symphony Hall, London's Royal Festival Hall and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. He has also appeared at festivals worldwide including Verbier, Salzburg, Edinburgh, Aldeburgh, Tanglewood and Aspen.
Hough has made more than 50 CDs, including the highly acclaimed set of Rachmaninov's Piano Concertos, recorded live with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra under Andrew Litton. These have been compared to the recordings made by the composer himself. Many of Hough’s albums have garnered international prizes including several Grammy nominations, and eight Gramophone Magazine Awards including Record of the Year’ in 1996 and 2003.
A visiting professor of piano at the Royal Academy of Music in London, Hough also holds the International Chair of Piano Studies at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. He has written for The Guardian, The Times, and was invited by the Telegraph Media Group in December 2008 to write a cultural blog that receives 10 to 15 thousand visit every week. He has also written extensively about theology.
Hough uncovered a mistake in Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1, 138 years after the work was finished. After looking at the manuscript online in the Berlin Staatsbibliothek, Hough noticed a 'wrong note' F had been changed to a B flat in blue pencil. Before seeing the manuscript, he had cited a number of reasons for wanting to change the note in the score.
In 2009 Hough played recitals in London's Royal Festival Hall as well as becoming the first British instrumentalist to give a solo recital on the main stage of Carnegie Hall in almost 20 years.
Also in 2009, Hough won the Gold Disc Award at the Classic FM Gramophone Awards. His recording of Saint-Saens' complete works for piano and orchestra topped the vote as the best recording of the past 30 years.
In June 2013, Hough auctioned his 5 foot 8 inch Blüthner piano dating from the 1920s. It was listed with an estimated value of £3,000 - £4,000, but sold for £5,200.
Critics and the public alike were unanimous about the excellence of Stephen Hough's 2013 album of Brahms concertos. The year was capped by Hough being named as a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in the New Year's Honours list.
Also an accomplished composer, Hough's cello concerto - written for Steven Isserlis - was first performed in March 2007. That same year, Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral performed masses Hough wrote for them.