If you arrive at a concert ready to play your piece, that's not nearly good enough. You must have your music ready to the point where you can play it on a short rehearsal, after a long plane flight, on a strange piano, having had an unpleasant lunch, in an unfriendly atmosphere. You have to be so over-prepared that you can cope with anything.

Stephen Hough

Stephen Hough

Profession: Musician
Nationality: British

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I've always written - about music, art, things going on around the world. The danger is that it becomes too personal. I don't think people want it at that level of intimacy.

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.

Discovering how to spend leisure time well, especially during a time of austerity, could be as important in the effort to reduce crime as having extra police on the streets, and increasing the population of concert halls may actually help decrease the population of prisons.

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'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.

If I'm walking along the street, ideas come. Ideas about things that I'm interested in. I've jotted them down in the past on bits of paper and then, more recently, on apps in my phone. I've always written poetry since I was a kid.

I wanted to be a disc jockey.

To me, the heart of the ministry lies in being able to help deeply distressed people, not because of your own qualities but because you represent Christ.

I think it all comes from the same source, really, the writing of music, the writing of words, the playing of music. It's what drives anyone to be interested in the arts. I think it's a poetic gene; it's a wanting to go beyond.

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.

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.

There's certainly no doubt that commercialism has entered classical music to such a degree that almost no one seems to care anymore about the physical and mental health of the performer.

For about four years, all I did was watch television. I suppose my parents should have stopped me.

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.