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Ever-provocative Stephen Hough on the issue of gay pianists

Leave it to Stephen Hough, the English pianist who combines technical panache and incisive music-making in such compelling ways, to stir the blogosphere pot.

On his inevitably provocative blog, where he's apt to talk sexuality (he's gay) and religion (he's Catholic) with equal daring, Hough has raised the subject of whether it's possible to tell from the playing whether a pianist is gay. 

Not surprisingly, there's a lively comments section on this post, and I'm sure conversations will be going on in real-live domains as well.

To tell the truth, I've occasionally wondered, too, if such an essential characteristic as one's sexual orientation invariably

finds a way into a musician's art (and not just a pianist's).

Not that it's a hugely important issue, but you've got to admit, it's interesting. All of life's experiences, presumably, can translate into an interpretation at the keyboard, or on the podium, of whatever. But how might this manifest itself?

As Hough is the first to point out, there's no use relying on stereotypes in this sort of guessing game: "Is there something which makes Horowitz, Richter and Cherkassky (to choose three completely contrasting artists) different from, say, Rubinstein, Gilels and Serkin? Can you tell they were gay? It’s certainly not the old stereotype of effeminacy – Richter is one of the most physically powerful, and ‘unglamorous’ pianists of all time ..." 

Maybe next someone can address another topic that I've always been curious about: How come there seem to be so few gay male violinists? 

BALTIMORE SUN FILE PHOTO

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