In addition to serving on the jury, renowned pianist, composer, and one of Twenty Living Polymaths (The EconomistStephen Hough has been commissioned to compose a new work for the 2021 Cliburn Competition, to be performed by all 30 competitors. This marks the second time that the composer of the commissioned work will also serve on the jury. Details on the piece will be released in early 2021, and competitors will receive it no later than March 25, 2021.


“The most perfect piano playing conceivable.” –The Guardian

Named by The Economist as one of Twenty Living Polymaths, Stephen Hough combines a distinguished career as a pianist with those of composer, writer, and painter. He was the first classical performer to be awarded a MacArthur Fellowship and was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the New Year’s Honours 2014.

Concerto highlights in 2019–2020 include performances with the New York, Dallas, Toronto, Singapore, Iceland, and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestras, as well as the Slovak Philharmonic, Radio Filharmonisch Orkest, and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. With the Malmö Symfoniorkester and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Mr. Hough performs Liszt’s First and Second piano concertos, and in May–June 2020, he tours Beethoven’s Third, Fourth, and Fifth Piano Concertos in China, performing with the China Philharmonic and Shanghai Symphony Orchestras, among others. Recent appearances include the Cleveland and Minnesota Orchestras; Finnish Radio, City of Birmingham, and Tokyo Symphony Orchestras; London and China Philharmonic Orchestras; and the Wiener Symphoniker.

Mr. Hough is a regular guest at festivals such as Salzburg, Mostly Mozart, Edinburgh, La Roque-d’Anthéron, and BBC Proms, where he has made more than 25 appearances. Recitals in 2019–2020 span the United States, Europe, and beyond, including performances at the Taiwan National Concert Hall, Cliburn Concerts, Caramoor, London’s Royal Festival Hall (International Piano Series), and Wigmore Hall (chamber residency featuring Steven Isserlis, Renaud Capuçon, and Michael Collins, among others).

Mr. Hough’s extensive discography of over 60 CDs has garnered international awards including the Diapason d’Or de l’Année, several Grammy® nominations, and eight Gramophone Awards, including Record of the Year and the Gold Disc. Upcoming releases include Beethoven’s complete piano concertos (with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra under Hannu Lintu) and Final Piano Pieces of Brahms, while recent releases include solo piano works by Debussy, Hough’s Dream Album, and a live recording of Schumann and Dvořák’s piano concertos with Andris Nelsons and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, all for Hyperion Records. His award-winning iPad app The Liszt Sonata was released by Touch Press in 2013.

As a composer, Mr. Hough has been commissioned by Wigmore Hall, Musée du Louvre, London’s National Gallery, Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral, the Genesis Foundation, Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, the Walter W. Naumburg Foundation, Orquesta Sinfónica de Euskadi, and the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet. His music is published by Josef Weinberger Ltd.

Stephen Hough’s first novel, The Final Retreat, was published by Sylph Editions in March 2018, and in August 2019, his Rough Ideas: Reflections on Music and More was published by Faber & Faber; he has also written for The New York Times, The TelegraphThe TimesThe Guardian, and the Evening Standard. Mr. Hough is an Honorary Bencher of the Middle Temple, an Honorary Member of the Royal Philharmonic Society, a 2019-22 Visiting Fellow at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, a Visiting Professor at the Royal Academy of Music, the International Chair of Piano Studies at the Royal Northern College of Music, and is on the faculty of The Juilliard School in New York.