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

  • Encores:
  • CHOPIN Nocturne in F-sharp Major, Op. 15, No. 2
  • MINKUS Dulcinea Variation from Don Quixote (arr. Stephen Hough)
  • HOUGH "Osmanthus Romp"
  • GRIEG "Notturno," Op. 54, No. 4

Event Duration

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


  • Stephen Hough

    Stephen Hough is a Renaissance man of his time, securing a reputation not only as a uniquely insightful concert pianist, but also as a writer and composer. In 2001, Mr. Hough was the first classical performing artist to win a MacArthur Fellowship. He was awarded Northwestern University's 2008 Jean Gimbel Lane Prize in Piano Performance, won the Royal Philharmonic Society Instrumentalist Award in 2010, and was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in January 2014. He has appeared with most of the major European and American orchestras, and performs recitals regularly in the world's most distinguished halls and concert series.

    Mr. Hough's 2014-2015 season began with return visits to the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and to the Aspen, Grant Park, and Blossom music festivals with The Cleveland Orchestra. His season continues with an extensive tour of Asia and Australia. He performs with numerous North American orchestras and appears in recital in New York, Boston, San Francisco, Atlanta, Cincinnati, and at the Kennedy Center and the Savannah Music Festival. Highlights of his European season include performing and recording the Dvořák and Schumann piano concertos with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Andris Nelsons, and a recital at London's Royal Festival Hall.

    Many of Mr. Hough's catalogue of more than 50 albums have garnered international prizes. His most recent releases include Stephen Hough's French Album and In the Night. As a composer, Mr. Hough has written works for orchestra, choir, chamber ensemble, and solo piano; as a writer, he contributes to numerous newspapers and publications. In 2008, he was invited by The Telegraph to start a blog that has become one of the most influential forums for cultural discussion. His book, The Bible as Prayer, was published in 2007.

    Mr. Hough resides in London, where he is a visiting professor at the Royal Academy of Music and holds the International Chair of Piano Studies at his alma mater, the Royal Northern College in Manchester. In September, he joined the faculty of The Juilliard School. 

    More Info


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.
Program Notes


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