Performance Saturday, May 9, 2015 | 8 PM

Stephen Hough

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Stephen Hough writes, "Chopin is more like Solomon, reaching out for one of the Queen of Sheba's more exotic perfumes, nostrils quivering with the intoxicating, heady harmonies." That insight is evident in his playing, which the San Francisco Chronicle lauded for its utmost intimacy and lyricism. The program also includes works by Debussy.


  • Stephen Hough, Piano


  • DEBUSSY La plus que lente
  • DEBUSSY Estampes
  • CHOPIN Ballade No. 2 in F Major
  • CHOPIN Ballade No. 1 in G Minor
  • CHOPIN Ballade No. 3 in A-flat Major
  • CHOPIN Ballade No. 4 in F Minor
  • DEBUSSY Children's Corner
  • DEBUSSY L’isle joyeuse

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.


Chopin Ballade No. 3 in A-flat Major, Op. 47
Stephen Hough, Piano

At a Glance

Claude Debussy was fascinated with and inspired by Frédéric Chopin from a young age. He once said, “Chopin is the greatest of all, for with the piano alone he discovered everything.” Though Debussy’s overall aesthetic differs from Chopin’s, both composers utilize intimate, contained forms and have a flair for mood-painting and the use of exotic sounds.

The four Debussy works on this evening’s program were composed between 1903 and 1910. They all possess his signature impressionistic voice, which is at once immediately recognizable and yet unique to each work. Debussy drew harmonic, sonic, and melodic inspiration from a variety of artistic sources, including medieval music, Asian cultures, older European styles, and even popular melodies. 

Situated between the two groups of Debussy works on tonight’s program are Chopin’s virtuosic ballades, which germinated from a poetic impulse and exemplify the Romantic genre of the self-contained piano miniature. Composed by one of the era’s most preeminent composers, these works present both technical and musical challenges to the performer at every turn.


This performance is part of Keyboard Virtuosos I, and Keyboard Virtuosos I Mini.