October 28, 2019
Pianist Stephen Hough's Essay Collection "Rough Ideas: Reflections on Music and More" To Be Published in U.S. by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, February 4, 2020
Jiyang Chen

NEW YORK, NEW YORK (October 28, 2019) — Pianist, composer, writer, and all-around polymath Stephen Hough’s fourth book, a wide-ranging essay collection titled Rough Ideas: Reflections on Music and More, is published in the U.S. on February 4, 2020, by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Mr. Hough addresses an eclectic range of musical questions in these essays, including: “Is there too much music?” “Do special clothes make a difference [in how musicians perform]?” and “Gay pianists: can you tell?”. He also offers insight into particular composers and works, guidance in the practice room, and an inside look at the many challenges of a life on stage—from stage fright to disruptive ringtones. Beyond music, subject matter ranges from the light-hearted (e.g., “Beef Stroganoff and a bag of bones”) to the controversial (e.g., “Suicide? Let me assist you”). Religion is a theme of particular importance, and Mr. Hough explores questions about the existence of God, problems with some biblical texts, and the challenges involved in being a gay Catholic.

On the genesis of the book, Mr. Hough says:

“I spend a lot of my life sitting around – at airports, on planes, in hotel rooms – and most of this book expands notes I have made during that dead time on the road. Many of these jottings found their way into print, on paper or online, but others remained unfinished musings on scraps of paper or saved as files on the go on my iPhone: seeds, saplings, waiting to be planted or repotted or pruned.”

Stephen Hough on Rough Ideas

Mr. Hough’s first book, The Bible as Prayer: A Handbook for Lectio Divina, was published by Paulist Press in 2007 and followed in 2014 by Nosing Around, a series of ruminations on perfume published by Shrinking Violet Press. In spring 2018, Mr. Hough’s debut novel, The Final Retreat, was published by Sylph Editions. The novel is the diary of a middle-aged Catholic priest on silent retreat while being blackmailed. Through the protagonist’s state of desperation and crisis of faith, Mr. Hough explores themes that had been on his mind for many years, including the idea of the “wounded healer”—“those people who set themselves up as being helpers in the community and then fail in themselves.” The novel received wide acclaim, including five stars from BBC Music Magazine and a “Novel of the Week” selection in Catholic publication The Tablet.

This season, Mr. Hough gives solo recitals and concerts with orchestra throughout North America. His current recital program, which includes his own Sonata No. 4 (“vida breve”), is performed in Cincinnati, Fort Worth, Katonah (at Caramoor), New Orleans, and Santa Barbara, among other cities, and he appears as a concerto soloist with the Dallas, Nashville, National, and Toronto Symphonies. He also performs overseas this season with orchestras in Australia, China, Iceland, Korea, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Singapore, Slovakia, Sweden, and the U.K., and in recital in Germany, Taiwan, and the U.K., including in London, Manchester, and Oxford. He appears in chamber concerts featuring his compositions in Oxford, Milan, and London, among other cities, with such leading artists as violinist Renaud Capuçon and cellist Steven Isserlis.

Mr. Hough has recorded more than 60 albums for Hyperion Records, and this season the label releases his next two albums: a solo disc of late works by Brahms and a two-disc cycle of the complete Beethoven piano concertos with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra under Hannu Lintu, in celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday.

About Stephen Hough

Stephen Hough is regarded as a Renaissance man of his time. Over the course of his career, he has not only secured a reputation as an insightful pianist, but also as a writer and composer. In 2001, he was the first classical performing artist to receive a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and, in 2013, he was named a Commander of the British Empire. He has appeared with most of the major American and European orchestras and plays recitals regularly in major halls and concert series around the world. His recordings have garnered international prizes including the Deutscher Schallplattenpreis, Diapason d’Or, Monde de la Musique, several Grammy nominations, and eight Gramophone Magazine Awards including the 1996 and 2003 “Record of the Year” Awards and the 2008 “Gold Disc” Award. Mr. Hough has composed music for orchestra, choir, chamber ensemble, and solo piano, and his compositions are published by Josef Weinberger, Ltd. He is also an avid painter whose work has been exhibited at the Broadbent Gallery in London.

A noted writer, Mr. Hough has contributed articles to The New York Times, The Guardian, The Times (U.K.), Evening Standard, The Tablet, Gramophone, and BBC Music Magazine. For seven years, until 2016, he wrote more than six hundred articles for his blog on The Telegraph, which became one of the most popular and influential forums for cultural discussion. Mr. Hough resides in London and is a visiting professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London and The Juilliard School in New York. He holds the International Chair of Piano Studies at his alma mater, the Royal Northern College in Manchester, and he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Liverpool in 2011. To learn more about Stephen Hough, visit stephenhough.com and follow him at @houghhough on Twitter and Facebook.
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