November 30, 2020
Covid has forced pianist Stephen Hough to play at different times – without a break. And he’s loved it so much, he doesn’t want to ever go back
When my book Rough Ideas was published last year I, like everyone else on the planet, had no idea how much and how quickly life in 2020 would change with Covid-19. Its chapters about music and composers and practising (and even recording) remain pertinent, but the section entitled Stage, about life on the road, backstage, in airports, in hotels – in short, life as a concert pianist – seems like scenes from another world.
There would be additional chapters if it were to be written today: playing for sparse, distanced audiences whose response to the music is hidden behind masks; regulations for behaviour on- and offstage (“Do not touch the piano except for the keys”; “Do not gather with members of the orchestra”). I’m convinced that in time we will return to a full concert and theatre schedule, but for the moment there are adjustments to be made. And some of these may end up as permanent changes.