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.

Stephen Hough

Stephen Hough

Profession: Musician
Nationality: British

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One of the things that touches me most when I play for an audience is that although we may be unable to communicate in words or have diametrically opposed views on hot-button issues, while the music sounds we can be at peace, we can be friends. The vibrations that fill an auditorium have no passports, and they unite ears when hearts may be divided.

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.

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.

Once or twice, I've taken the Gideon Bible out of the drawer, opened it at random, and found myself stuck in the middle of a genealogical list. And that's when I thought: why not cherry-pick the best bits, passages that people can actually use?

I don't watch television! At least not when I'm traveling. For some reason, I have always found it depressing to watch television in hotel rooms. I try to use that time, as well as time on planes, to write.

I was out of the U.K. as a care-free, fun-loving student for much of Mrs. Thatcher's time in Downing Street, and as I didn't own a television in New York, never read the newspapers, and am old enough to have lived before the Internet, she is a shadowy figure in my memory.

Learning great works like the Liszt Sonata or Beethoven's 'Hammerklavier' should be a struggle to a certain extent, where you need to labor intensely with your own brain and soul for the meaning of the work instead of cutting and pasting a bunch of stuff together from the Internet and - boom! - there you are with a performance ready to go.

I love my painting - it fills me with passion. But it's not something I expect anyone else to love.

I've twice been on the point of giving up my performing career to train for the priesthood.

Where prominent writers are expected to have a socially, politically responsible voice, musicians sometimes find meaning only in the voice which produces melodies with vocal chords.

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.

The things I do outside of playing the piano are done out of an inner necessity, not just because I want to try my hand at different things.

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 don't think of faith as something that's like a rock, that never changes. I think it's something that's very fluid, always changing.