Stephen Hough
Stephen Hough
Stephen Hough

Writings

Dallas Interview

Dallas Symphony Orchestra Playbill Article - Hough Profile

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra
You’re a familiar face to many patrons. How many times have you performed with the DSO?
I suppose it’s around six or seven different weeks now.

What keeps bringing you back?
Getting asked is a good start! I love Andrew, the players, the management, the hall … and I have some very dear friends in the area who are fabulous cooks!

What’s your best memory with the DSO?
I suppose our concert in Carnegie Hall a few years ago. And also I played the first subscription week following 9/11 - it was nice to be back at work after such a harrowing time a few days earlier in my apartment in New York.

Rach/Composers

You’ll be performing Rachmaninoff’s four piano concertos in three weekends. What are the challenges in this?
Staying alive! Seriously, it’s not just playing all the notes (should we have a prize for the person who can count them?), but more keeping the musical energy level at a peak. This music is high-octane in every way and I don’t want one bar to sound routine or unfocused.

Is there one that is your favorite?
Really not. All four are unique masterpieces in very different ways.

What would you tell people about the Rachmaninoff performances they may not know?
The 1st was revised 10 years after he’d written the 3rd and is a totally different piece from its first incarnation. According to Rachmaninoff’s grandson (he told me himself) the 2nd has nothing to do with Rachmaninoff’s treatment from Dr. Dahl, but rather the composer was in love with the doctor’s daughter. Inspired by love not depression. The 3rd received one of its first performances with Mahler conducting. The 4th was revised at least three times and is over 150 bars shorter now than at its first performance. It’s the most personal and experimental of the four.

Is Rachmaninoff your favorite composer for piano?
He writes wonderfully for the instrument --- unless you have very small hands!

Performing/touring

You’ve performed around the world – where did your interest in piano begin?
In a family friend’s house when I discovered the coffin-like box in the corner which made such glorious sounds. I wanted to play straight away and begged my parents for a piano and a teacher.

You live in the UK and the US – which do you like better (no bias here, of course)?
Impossible to say. They are both so different. Although wasn’t it Oscar Wilde who said “We have everything in common with the Americans these days … except, of course, language”.

You perform chamber music, with orchestras, in festivals, all over – which is your favorite type of venue in which to play?
The Meyerson is easily in the top six, although for recitals it can be wonderful to play in a smaller, more intimate hall. Shriver Hall in Atlanta is fabulous in this regard.

You’ve also performed with many types of soloists – are you able to make friends with these people, or are you really like “two ships passing in the night?”
I tend now only to play chamber music with people I know (and like!). Sadly many of my friends are like ships passing in the night as we see each other too infrequently.

What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you during your travels?
Wanting to avoid being seen in an unshowered, unshaven state in Sydney, Australia and then finding that I’d been taped for national TV’s Candid Camera. (I managed to withhold approval for the broadcast though!)

What has changed the most in this business since you started performing?
Gosh. That question makes me feel old! Probably the answer is me. As you play more you learn to cope with different situations more easily.

What do most people not know about careers in classical music/as a professional musician?
It’s not glamorous most of the time. Arriving alone in a deserted railway station in Holland in the rain and having to drag a heavy suitcase to a seedy hotel having not eaten anything all day.

What do you do in your free time?
Read, walk, paint, write, see friends … panic that I’m not practicing!

What would most people in the audience not know about you?
That I have an Australian passport (acquired recently due to my father having been born there); that I wanted at one point to be a priest; that I have a piece of chocolate for breakfast most mornings…

What’s your most famous encounter as a musician?
Performing for the entire British royal family (including the late Princess Diana and Queen Mother) at Buckingham Palace a few years ago.

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