In superficial terms, to have an orchestral career is to be better than others, or at least to be chosen over others on that particular occasion; it is a form of survival.

Stephen Hough

Stephen Hough

Profession: Musician
Nationality: British

Some suggestions for you :

I enjoy painting. It's an incredible release of tension, and I feel very excited doing it. I squeeze out some wonderful red paint, and I get a thrill. My heart starts beating faster. It's almost a sensual thing working with these thick acrylic paints. I almost want to put my hands in.

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

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.

I would do a sort of violence to myself if I didn't express myself in the directly creative ways of writing, both words and music.

I haven't studied theology in any systematic way. I don't think I'd find certain subjects - canon law, for instance - terribly interesting. But I'm always picking around and finding different things.

When you're a kid, Beethoven is Beethoven, but as I've grown older, my astonishment at the sheer inventiveness of the man has increased, and I have an appreciation that I didn't have when I was in my 20s.

I really feel something's missing if I'm not writing.

I didn't want to look back in 10 or 20 years and say, 'Yes, I always wanted to write that piano sonata or that novel, but I never had time.'

In anything, there has to be that moment of fasting, really, in order to enjoy the feast.

It's very hard to come up with ideal situations... With different moods and the difficulties of traveling around, I often play my best under the worst conditions.

I've loved Alfred Cortot's playing from an early age, and I never tire of hearing his recordings, particularly Chopin and Schumann from the 1920s and '30s.

I love listening to things like those wonderful piano pieces of Stockhausen. It's just not my thing as a composer or performer, and thank goodness we're not obliged to be Modernist any more.

Most people are at a concert because they want to be inspired, entertained, moved; we musicians have the mission to be bringers of joy, of ecstasy.

Painting is just a hobby. I really don't think of it much more than that. But writing music and writing words... my life would feel as if it had a big hole if I took those away.