If 'ecstasy' means to stand outside ourselves, then what better ambition can there be as we wait in the wings of the Royal Albert Hall: to leave self-obsession behind and take the audience on a journey across the high wire of Beethoven or the flying trapeze of Liszt.

Stephen Hough

Stephen Hough

Profession: Musician
Nationality: British

Some suggestions for you :

The piano is an instrument that can easily sound overly thick, and I love to think that I can work with textures - particularly the inner textures inside the melody or the bass line. There is an analogy there with painting; I love paintings where you see colour underneath the colour and, underneath that, more texture and shape.

Whether such socialism is foolish naivety or heroic idealism is a matter of opinion, but what is certain is that, however many CDs are sold or tours sold out, the sound waves themselves are free.

I was very quick; I did nothing but play the piano apart from being at school. I was at home with my mother, saying, 'Go out and get some fresh air.' No, I wanted to play the piano all the time I could. I was completely obsessed.

To me, spirituality is the everyday stuff which we're dealing with all the time. It's not going into some ecstatic trance. It's changing a nappy, or making a meal at the end of a very tiring day.

Bach and Beethoven erected temples and churches on the heights. I only wanted to build dwellings for men in which they might feel happy and at home.

Out of silence is born concentration, and from that comes learning.

Many people who don't like Rachmaninov's style consider the 'Rhapsody' his masterpiece. It's written fantastically well for orchestra and piano. He combines a lot of effervescence with a deep, Romantic spirit.

Silence is the necessary soil for any thought to flourish.

Before Liszt, a conductor was someone who just facilitated the performance, who would keep people together or beat the time, indicate the entries. After Liszt, that was no longer the case; a conductor was someone who shaped the music in an intense musical way, who played the orchestra as an instrument.

I'd never thought about living in London until about 1999.

Playing the piano is incredibly personal... But when it's your own piece, it's doubly so.

The daily glitter of skyscrapers competing with the stars is an unnecessary, unforgivable decadence.

I once nodded off during one of my own concerts. While I was playing.

I want music to move me, and I don't think it can do that without at least a link to tonality. It's the tug between atonal and tonal which makes music poignant.