Stephen Hough is a highly regarded pianist with a leading international career based from his homes in his native Britain and in New York.
Hough studied at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and at Juilliard. He came to international attention when he won the Naumburg International Piano Competition in 1983. Since then he established a reputation an interest in unusual repertoire -- both newer compositions and disregarded works of the past. In the late 1990s he began to emerge as a respectable composer of thoughtful and well-crafted piano music.
Hough is active as a soloist, accompanist, chamber musician, and concerto soloist. In the last-named role, he has appeared with the major orchestras of the world with conductors such as James Levine, Rattle, Salonen, Vänskä, Dutoit, Gergiev, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Neeme Järvi, Claudio Abbado, and Michael Tilson Thomas on the podium. He has been a frequent visitor to the annual BBC Proms series, appearing over a dozen times. He has also played at the Aspen, Ravinia, Tanglewood, Blossom, Hollywood Bowl, and Mostly Mozart Festivals in the U.S., and at the Edinburgh and Salzburg Festivals among leading European gatherings.
He plays chamber music with the Cleveland, Emerson, and Juilliard Quartets and other groups. With the Juilliard's long-time first violinist Robert Mann, Hough has performed and recorded the complete violin and piano sonatas of Beethoven and Brahms. Hough's recital partners also include friends such as Joshua Bell, Pamela Frank, Tabea Zimmermann, Michael Collins, and Steven Isserlis.
He records for the British label Hyperion, and has released over thirty compact discs. His devotion to unusual repertory of various eras in music is reflected in some of his titles. His album New York Variations includes the Ghost Variations by George Tsontakis and John Corigliano's Etude Fantasy and was named Time Magazine's Best Classical CD of the Year. His recording of piano concertos of Scharwenka and Sauer won Gramophone Magazine's award in 1996 for Concerto Record of the year and the top prize of Record of the Year. On that disc, he was accompanied by conductor Lawrence Foster and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He has recorded the little known complete orchestra-and-piano works by Felix Mandelssohn and the solo piano music of Mompou (another Gramophone Award winner and also winner of a Diapason d'Or). Hough has also won the Classic CD and Deutschen Schallplattenkritik Prize. Hough has recorded piano music of Coates, Chaminade, Liszt, Lieberman, Franck, Bowen, and his own well-regarded etudes and piano transcriptions, as well as complete series of Saint-Saëns' and Rachmaninov's piano concertos.
In 2001, Hough was the recipient of a prestigious MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.