November 19, 2020
Pianist Stephen Hough's Essay Collection "Rough Ideas: Reflections on Music and More" Wins 2020 Royal Philharmonic Society Award

Book wins in ‘Storytelling’ category, which focuses on writings, spoken word, radio, television, film, and digital / online projects, among other media, that further the understanding of classical music

LONDON, ENGLAND (November 18, 2020) — The Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) Awards, widely considered the most prestigious music awards in the UK, have named pianist Stephen Hough’s book Rough Ideas: Reflections on Music and More as the 2020 award winner in the ‘Storytelling’ category, which focuses on writings, spoken word, radio, television, film, and digital / online projects, among other media, that further the understanding of classical music.

The awarding jury of the Royal Philharmonic Society, which was founded in 1813, praised Rough Ideas as “a colourful and compelling document of a maverick musical mind. It vividly charts vast terrain, illustrating how a virtuoso musician is not divorced from the rest of the world.”

Stephen Hough is regarded as a Renaissance man of his time. Over the course of his career he has distinguished himself as a true polymath, not only securing a reputation as a uniquely insightful concert pianist but also as a writer and composer. On June 1, 2020, he re-opened London’s Wigmore Hall, performing the UK’s first live classical music concert in a major venue since its nationwide lockdown in March. Later that summer he made his 29th appearance at the BBC Proms.

As an international performer, Stephen Hough spends much of his life at airports, on planes, and in hotel rooms—and the essay collection Rough Ideas expands notes he has made, in his words, “during that dead time on the road.” Published by Faber & Faber in the UK and Farrar, Straus & Giroux in the US, this is the first time the pianist’s eclectic reflections on music and more are brought together in one place.

In over 400 pages, he writes vividly about people he's known, places he's travelled to, books he's read, paintings he's seen; and touches on more controversial subjects, such as assisted suicide and abortion. Even religion is there—the possibility of the existence of God, problems with some biblical texts, and the challenge involved in being a gay Catholic.


About Stephen Hough

Stephen Hough is one of the world's leading pianists, winning global acclaim and numerous awards for his performances and recordings. 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 Order of the British Empire. He has appeared with virtually all major American and European orchestras and has given recitals at the most prestigious concert halls around the world. He has recorded more than 60 albums for Hyperion, most recently a three-disc set of Beethoven's complete piano concertos with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Upcoming 2021 engagements include concerto performances with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover, St Louis, Cincinnati and Atlanta Symphony Orchestras, Seoul Philharmonic, and the National Symphony Orchestra, Taiwan.

He is also a writer, composer, and painter and was included in The Economist's list of '20 Living Polymaths.' His writing has appeared in BBC Music Magazine, Gramophone, The GuardianThe New York Times, and The Times (London). His first novel, The Final Retreat, was published by Sylph Editions in 2018. As a composer, he has written for orchestra, choir, chamber ensemble, and solo piano, and his compositions are published by Josef Weinberger, Ltd. He resides in London and is a visiting professor at the Royal Academy of Music and Juilliard. 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, visit and follow him on Twitter @houghhough.

About the Royal Philharmonics Society

For over 200 years, the Royal Philharmonic Society has been at the heart of music, creating opportunities for musicians to excel, championing the vital role that music plays in all our lives. It all began in 1813 when a group of musicians set out to establish a series of orchestral concerts in London. The Society’s regular performances attracted world-class artists including Mendelssohn and Wagner, and it commissioned exhilarating new music for an eager public to hear: most famously, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. In its founding gesture, the Society created a lasting culture. Other orchestras found their footing and their music resounds across Britain today.

200 years later, the Society continues to celebrate and empower musicians who – like its founders – strive to enrich society with all that they do. Through grants, commissions, coaching and performance opportunities, the RPS helps exciting young performers and composers find their voice. Through the renowned annual RPS Awards, presented in association with BBC Radio 3, the Society celebrates the quality, impact and ingenuity of the finest artists and creative forces at work today. Through its Membership, the RPS aims to cultivate national pride and curiosity in classical music, and rouse audiences to recognise the vital and valued role they play in the country's thriving musical heritage. Through all its endeavours, the RPS is dedicated to proving classical music’s rightful and powerful place in society.

For more information about the RPS and RPS Awards, visit

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For press / review copies of Rough Ideas, please contact:

Shuman Associates 
(212) 315-1300 |

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