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Sir Stephen Hough elected as an Honorary Fellow at Girton College

(L-R): Sir Stephen Hough and Dr Elisabeth Kendall in front of the book case in the Stanley Library at Girton College, Cambridge

We are delighted to announce the election of Sir Stephen Hough, award-winning pianist, as an Honorary Fellow at Girton College, University of Cambridge.

Sir Stephen Hough is one of the most distinctive artists of his generation, combining a distinguished career as a pianist with those of composer and writer. He has won global acclaim for his outstanding interpretations of the piano repertoire and was the first classical performer to be awarded a MacArthur Fellowship (2001). 

Many of Sir Stephen's catalogue of over 60 albums have garnered international prizes including the Deutsche Schallplattenpreis, Diapason d'Or, Monde de la Musique, several Grammy nominations, either Gramophone Magazine Awards included 'Record of the Year' in 1996 and 2003, and the Gramophone 'Gold Disc' Award in 2008, which named his complete Saint-Saens Piano Concertos as the best recording of the past 30 years. His 2005 live recording of the Rachmaninoff Piano Concertos was the fastest-selling recording in Hyperion's history, while his 1987 recording of the Hummel concertos remains Chandos' best-selling disc to date.

  • Read more on Sir Stephen Hough on his website.

The official ceremony of admission on 5 February 2024 was preceded by a captivating 'in conversation' with the Mistress of Girton College, Dr Elisabeth Kendall, attended by students and Fellows. 

You can watch the 'in conversation' below: 

(Please note this conversation discusses books with explicit scenes and language)


During the ceremony, Girton undergraduate student, Heather Irvine, recited the poem What is Music to You? by Nigerian-German poet and chess player, Sylvia Chidi. The Mistress invited Sir Stephen to make the following pledge, witnessed by the Girton Fellowship:

“In joining the foundation of this College as an Honorary Fellow, I shall endeavour wherever possible to encourage and promote the values and vision of the College as an institution committed to inclusive excellence, and inspired by an ethic of care.”

Sir Stephen was then invited by the Praelector, The Reverend Dr Charlie Bell, to sign the College Register. 

(L-R) Heather Irvine, Reverend Dr Charlie Bell, Dr Elisabeth Kendall, Sir Stephen Hough, Dr Hilary Marlow, and Dr Dorothy Thompson

(L-R) Heather Irvine, The Reverend Dr Charlie Bell, Dr Elisabeth Kendall, Sir Stephen Hough, Dr Hilary Marlow, and Dr Dorothy Thompson

The Mistress said: It was a true privilege to welcome Sir Stephen Hough, one of the most brilliant creative artists of our times, as an Honorary Fellow. Throughout our “in conversation”, he captivated Fellows, students and guests with his remarkable story, lively wit, and charming modesty. 

Sir Stephen said: Growing up as a dysfunctional teenager in Cheshire, Cambridge University seemed far away, both geographically and educationally. That I am about to become an honorary fellow of Girton almost 40 years later makes me smile at such an unlikely but deeply appreciated outcome.

The ceremony was concluded by a celebratory dinner with the Fellows of Girton College.

You can view moments from the in-conversation and ceremony below via our Flickr album:

In Conversation & Honorary Fellow Admission: Sir Stephen Hough

Photographs © Girton College, University of Cambridge (UK).