(K. Brent Tomer),
ACCLAIMED for countless recordings and laden with awards, including a $500,000 MacArthur “genius” grant, 54-year-old Stephen Hough is the undisputed top dog among British concert pianists. He is even more sought-after in America, where he has been touring for much of this year. In Britain this month he is due to play Liszt, Schubert and Franck at the Edinburgh festival and Rachmaninov’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” in his 25th appearance at the BBC Proms in London.
There are reserves of power in Mr Hough’s touch, and an ingrained refinement; his self-composed encores usually dissipate with sly comedy the high seriousness of his art. Elegantly at ease with himself, he is a performer with whom audiences also feel easy.
Mr Hough was born and brought up near Liverpool. The £5 ($6.70) second-hand piano his parents bought him was all he needed to start honing the talent which led him, via the Royal Northern College of Music, to win the Naumberg international piano competition in New York when he was 21. That win signalled the start of a relationship with America which has grown steadily closer…Continue reading