Pianist Stephen Hough has been awarded Honorary Membership of the Royal Philharmonic Society, the141st recipient since the first Honorary Membership was made to Carl Maria von Weber in 1826. Hough has a long association with the Society. The RPS supported him early in his career – he studied at the Juilliard School in New York as the first ever winner of the RPS Julius Isserlis Prize for study abroad in 1980 and won the RPS Music Award for Instrumentalist in 2009.

The award was presented to Stephen Hough by RPS Council member Sally Groves and RPS Executive Director Rosemary Johnson during a concert at Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Hall last night (31 May) in which Hough played Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.3 with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. The choice of venue has a particular symmetry: Stephen Hough heard his first ever orchestral concert at Philharmonic Hall at the age of 8 in 1969, given by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and pianist John Ogden, and conducted by Sally Groves’s father Sir Charles Groves, who himself was also an RPS Honorary Member.

In its citation, the Royal Philharmonic Society said: “Stephen Hough is a concert pianist, internationally renowned for his virtuosic command of his instrument as well as the intelligence and insight of his beautifully crafted interpretations. He has appeared regularly on the major stages of the world as a recitalist, in concerti and in chamber music. His discography runs to more than 50 recordings and he has twice been awarded the coveted Gramophone recording of the year. But Stephen is a man with many hats; and in 2009 was named by the Economist as one of "20 Living Polymaths”. It is a title which he justly deserves: – as well being a musician he is remarkable for being acclaimed as a fine composer, a painter, a teacher, and through his public writings. This year he published his first novel and many will have followed his cultural blog in the Daily Telegraph over many years to discover that as well as music, his interests range from theology and poetry, to hats and soap operas.

The impulse behind, and which links all this creativity, is his understanding of the complexities of life, and his continual questioning, and desire to explore the very essence, of what makes us all human. RPS is proud to welcome him as an Honorary Member.”

Illustrious Honorary Members have included Rossini (1839), Brahms (1882), Clara Schumann (1887), Stravinsky (1921), Aaron Copland (1970), Paul Sacher (1991) and Lady Evelyn Barbirolli (2001). Recent recipients have included founder of El Sistema José Antonio Abreu (2008) Sir Brian McMaster (2009) Graham Johnson, Fanny Waterman (2010) George Benjamin, Tony Fell, Mark Elder (2011) John Stephens (2012), Dr Ahmad Sarmast, Rosemary Nalden, Aaron Dworkin, Ricardo Castro, Armand Diangienda (2013) Martin Campbell-White, Marin Alsop (2014) Evelyn Glennie (2015) and Graham Vick (2016) and Barrie Gavin (2017).


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