Sir Stephen Hough: Knighthood shows the continuing relevance of classical music

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Renowned pianist and composer Sir Stephen Hough says his knighthood shows the “continuing relevance and importance” of classical music in British cultural life.

The musician was given the honour for services to music in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, which have come early this year in time for her Platinum Jubilee.

He is the first British-born classical pianist to be made a sir since Sir Clifford Curzon in 1977, it is claimed.

Sir Stephen was previously made a CBE in 2014 and was the first classical performer to be awarded a MacArthur Fellowship.

Pianist Stephen Hough rehearses ahead of launching the first series of live broadcast concerts since lockdown on BBC Radio 3 at the Wigmore Hall
Stephen Hough is reportedly the first British-born classical pianist to be made a Sir since 1977 (Doug Peters/PA)

He has appeared regularly with some of the world’s leading orchestras as a soloist, including 29 appearances at the BBC Proms.

Reacting to the news, Sir Stephen said: “I am absolutely delighted by this honour, and particularly by its implied acknowledgment that classical music is something of continuing relevance and importance in British cultural life.”

Born in Heswall, Cheshire, Sir Stephen received his formative musical training at Chetham’s School of Music and the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester as well as The Juilliard School in New York.

Among his appearances at the Proms was his 2009 performance of Tchaikovsky’s complete works for piano and orchestra and on Queen Victoria’s “gold” piano on loan from Buckingham Palace in 2019.

Pianist Stephen Hough
The pianist has made 29 appearances at the BBC Proms (Lewis Whyld/PA)

Sir Stephen’s solo Wigmore Hall recital in 2020 was the UK’s first live classical music concert in a major venue after the nationwide lockdown earlier that year.

His discography, which is made up of 70 recordings and spans four centuries of repertoire, has won numerous accolades including eight Gramophone Awards.

As a composer he has been commissioned by Westminster Abbey and Cathedral, the National Gallery in London, Musee du Louvre and the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet, among many others.

Sir Stephen is scheduled to perform 90 concerts on five continents in the upcoming 2022/2023 season as he returns to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam as well as performing the complete Rachmaninov concertos in Brazil and Australia.

His memoir Enough: Scenes From Childhood will be published by Faber in spring 2023.

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