Monday, April 27, 2020

Review: Stephen Hough's Rough Ideas

By Elaine Diehl

Pay no attention to the scary-looking man staring at you from Stephen Hough's webpage. He’s actually one of the funniest, warmest, smartest individuals I’ve had the pleasure to interview. We spoke by phone about his new book, Rough Ideas - a collection of essays, musings and meditations mostly written in airports, hotel or dressing rooms while he waited to go to the next place. And Stephen Hough goes A LOT of places! In addition to being an author, Stephen Hough is a jet-setting international classical music superstar.

The book reveals a bit of Mr. Hough’s inquisitive nature, his unique take on topics from The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby,” to Jobim’s “Girl From Ipanema” (hint - one requires harmony to be complete, the other doesn’t…can you guess which is which? You may be surprised!) Mr. Hough, novelist, columnist, blogger and essayist, is an excellent writer. His words about music and the life of a musician, from walking out on to a stage or into the recording studio are fascinating, even to a non-musician. He also writes vividly about people he's known, places he's travelled to, books he's read, paintings he's seen; and touches on more controversial subjects, including religion and his challenges being a gay Catholic.

Rough Ideas is a perfect book to carry along when you don’t have large chunks of time to read a full work of fiction. The collection is well-organized, clearly and thoroughly indicized and the pieces are short. Rough Ideas will make you laugh at times, it will teach some history (another passion of the curious Mr. Hough), and it will make you think, deeply, about this world we all inhabit. The Reader will learn about the piano maker whose affiliation with the Third Reich cost it its reputation and almost forced them out of business, why Chopin’s B minor Sonata is harder to play than Liszt’s and the people Stephen Hough calls. “Good Americans.” Stephen Hough quotes the legendary conductor, Hans von Bulow, who wrote “Do not despise the fifteen minutes spent waiting for your carriage to arrive.’ Clearly, Stephen Hough puts his waiting time to good use. Rough Ideas is a great read for musicians, music lovers and everyone else. It is thoughtful and thought-provoking and a glimpse behind the curtain that most of us will never see. As he writes on the final page, “To write is to have read. To speak is to have listened, a conversation with others and with the Past, reflections frozen into Words about things which flow beyond words.”

Pianist Stephen Hough records for the Hyperion Label. His new album, Brahms: The Final Piano Pieces, was released in January. His new book, Rough Ideas is available now on Farrar, Strauss and Giroux. For a link to Stephen Hough’s music and my full interview, visit

Monday, April 20, 2020

Live Music at WGUC by Wesley Weidig and Luke Jackson

We love presenting live music from our Corbett Studio here on WGUC and our listeners seem to enjoy it as well.

Not too long ago we invited a couple guitarists from UC’s College Conservatory of Music to play for us live on WGUC.

In the early 1970s, Clare Callahan initiated a Classical Guitar degree program at the College Conservatory of Music at UC. Along the way, guitarist Christopher Wilke studied at CCM, earning a Master’s degree... then a Doctorate from the Eastman School.

Chris is on Faculty at CCM and brought a couple of his students by to play for us in December and I know you’ll enjoy these performances by Wesley Weidig and Luke Jackson from CCM.

Monday, April 13, 2020

A Visit With Stephen Hough Across The Atlantic

Pianist and Author Stephen Hough is described by The Washington Post as, “a virtuoso who begins where others leave off.” The Economist has named him as one of Twenty Living Polymaths.

He is a dedicated educator, a recording artist who has over 60 albums to his name (including the new, Brahms: The Final Piano Pieces, released earlier this year) and a composer. And, as I discovered during our recent telephone interview, Stephen Hough is a delightful, perfectly charming British gentleman!

He was scheduled to perform as part of Xavier University’s Piano Series later this month. He told me that he’s been performing at Xavier since the 1980’s and has many fond memories and friends there.

Even though this concert had to be postponed from the original April date to October 8, he agreed to chat about his career, the Brahms CD and his new book, Rough Ideas.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Passover and Easter Music

Some of the most beautiful music ever written was composed for holidays. As we enter the Passover and Easter seasons, WGUC will bring you four specials featuring some of that beautiful music and magnificent performances. We know many services will be cancelled this year due to our current health emergency, so we hope these will bring you some comfort and a bit of the tradition.

Remember, these specials can be heard anywhere thanks to our website, our mobile app, or your smart speakers (Play WGUC). All times are EDT. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 7, 6:30 p.m.
The Music of Passover: Our annual celebration in music and word with Naomi Lewin.

Wednesday, April 8, 7:00 p.m.
A Musical Feast for Passover with Itzhak Perlman: The springtime Jewish holiday of Passover is about liberation from slavery in ancient Egypt. In this one-hour special, superstar violinist Itzhak Perlman shares Passover music from many traditions, plus songs and memories from his childhood in Israel. The program draws its shape from the Passover Seder and, like that ancient family ritual, the music gets progressively giddier as the show moves along.

Friday, April 10, 6:00 p.m.
Bach’s St. Matthew Passion: A complete performance by the English Baroque Soloists and Monteverdi Choir under the direction of John Eliot Gardiner.

Sunday, April 12, 11:00 p.m.
Handel’s Messiah: A performance of the Easter portion of Handel’s beloved work by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Cambridge Singers and Soloists under the direction of John Rutter.