· Stephen Hough’s memoir, Enough: Scenes from Childhood is published by Faber on 2 February

· World premiere of the song cycle Songs of Love and Loss at Wigmore Hall on 2 January

· The first recording of Stephen Hough’s String Quartet No. 1 ‘Les Six Rencontres’, written for and performed by the Takács Quartet, is released on Hyperion on 6 January

· Música callada, a recording of ‘silent music’ by Catalan composer Mompou is released on Hyperion on 3 February

· Concert performances with the Concertgebouw Orchestra and Sir John Eliot Gardiner 26–29 January

Sir Stephen Hough’s memoir, Enough: Scenes from Childhood, to be published by Faber on 2 February, recounts the unconventional coming-of-age story of one of the world’s leading pianists, from his beginnings in an unmusical home in Cheshire to the main stage of Carnegie Hall in New York aged 21.

The book tells of young musician’s early love-affair with the piano which curdled, after a teenage nervous breakdown, into failure at school and six-hours a day watching television, engulfed in dreams, seesawing between sexual and religious obsessions. The reader gets to meet the supportive, if eccentric parents – the artistically frustrated father, the housework-hating mother.

We read of the teachers who encouraged and inspired, and others who hit him on the head screaming, ‘you’ll do nothing with your life’. Finding his way back to the piano, after having abandoned plans for an alternative life as a Catholic priest, Hough flourished at the Royal Northern College of Music and the Juilliard School, beginning his career as an international soloist as this book ends.

The publication of Enough follows on foot to the writer’s previously published and Royal Philharmonic Society Award-winning collection of essays Rough Ideas – Reflections on Music and More (Faber), as well as his first novel The Final Retreat (Sylph).



The world premiere of Stephen Hough’s Songs of Love and Loss at the Wigmore Hall in London on 2 January – jointly commissioned by Wigmore Hall, The 92nd Street Y in New York and Tippet Rise in Montana – is surrounded by a celebration of the pianist composer’s previous song cycles, to be performed by tenor Nicky Spence, soprano Ailish Tynan, mezzo-soprano Ema Nikolovska, baritone James Newby, pianist Alisdair Hogarth and Hough himself.At the centre of the new song cycle is Hough’s One Night, a contemporary retelling of W.H. Auden’s Lullaby, a contemplation of an intimacy that might be possible in even the most casual, temporary encounter. Hough said, ‘The songs’ musical styles are intentionally shocking in their variety, ranging from romantic intensity to a crooning 1950s pop tune.’ The cycle is bookended with two celebrated Yeats poems about love growing old, while the remainder of the cycle comprises settings of poems by friends: from Andrew Ball’s darkly humorous kitchen tongs and hopeless infatuations, to Tom Vaughan’s hope for a better future from the stuck-in-the-mud present, to Jonathan Galassi’s anxious holding together of a relationship which is hopelessly falling apart, and Peter Halstead looking at our planet’s nature in peril. The all-Hough concert on 2 January also features the first London public performance of Lady Antonia’s Songs, commissioned by Wigmore Hall. In setting the four verses by Lady Antonia Fraser, Hough said, ‘The first two she wrote during the 2020 Covid lockdown and they reflect that sense of isolation we all felt at that time; the third song is a raucous romp depicting the author’s many book tours in the United States, complete with a recurring chorus; the final song tenderly remembers her late husband Harold Pinter and the quiet, domestic drinks they would share on their balcony at the end of a social night out.’ https://wigmore-hall.org.uk/whats-on/sir-stephen-hough-ailish-tynan-ema-nikolovska-nicky-spence-james-newby-alisdair-hogarth-202301021930


The first recording of Stephen Hough’s String Quartet No. 1 ‘Les Six Rencontres’, released by Hyperion on 6 January, presents a piece conceived after an invitation from the Takács Quartet: to write a companion work for a recording of the quartets of Ravel and Dutilleux.

Hough embraced this challenge by considering these two musical colossi who strode across the length of the 20th century – not so much in what united their musical languages, but what was absent from them. The term ‘Les Six’ therefore refers to the group of six French composers most prominently active around the interwar years, evoking a flavour more than a style – a flavour rarely found in the music of Ravel and Dutilleux. Hough said, ‘In Les Six it’s not so much a lack of seriousness, although seeing life through a burlesque lens is one recurring ingredient; rather it’s an aesthetic re-view of the world after the catastrophe of the Great War.’ The subtitle for the Quartet No. 1 has in it a pun and a puzzle: the six movements as an echo of ‘Les Six’, although there are no quotes or direct references from those composers; and ‘encounters’ of which only the places are specified, their phantom occurrence leaving only a trace in the memory of the places where the meetings might have taken place.

Música callada, a recording of ‘silent music’ by Catalan composer Federico Mompou is released on Hyperion on 3 February. More than 25 years after his Gramophone Award-winning Mompou album, Stephen Hough turns to the composer’s most significant cycle of piano works, Música callada, assembled between 1959 and 1967, and published over four volumes. As Philip Clark elaborates in the notes to Hough’s recording, it is tempting to presume that Mompou’s aim had been to produce a grand summation of all those compositional tics and obsessions with which he had been working since his first published music some five decades earlier. The scale of Música callada—clocking in at a weighty seventy minutes—and knowledge that this was the last piano music he published during his lifetime might also point towards the work being the endpoint of everything for Mompou. And yet the music itself tells another story. Nothing is resolved, no dangling threads are neatly tied; the surface of the music remains entirely open-ended and susceptible to change, more like a potential reboot than a switch-off.



On 26–29 January, Stephen Hough returns to The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam to perform Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Concertgebouw Orchestra under Sir John Eliot Gardiner. Hough’s spring concert season takes him to Reykjavik (Iceland), Essen (Germany), New York City, Washington DC, Miami, Houston, Atlanta (USA), Manchester, Oxford, Gateshead (UK), among others.