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Photograph by Eric Richmond

An active and ever-growing repertoire that encompasses such composers as Beethoven, Berg, Brahms, Debussy, Schubert and Stravinsky reinforces the pianist Nicolas Hodges’ superior prowess on the contemporary music scene. As Tempo magazine wrote: “Hodges is a refreshing artist; he plays the classics as if they were written yesterday, and what was written yesterday as if it were already a classic.” Born in London and now based in Germany, where he is a professor at the Musikhochschule Stuttgart, Hodges approaches the works of classical, romantic, 20th century and contemporary composers with the same questing spirit, leading the Guardian to comment: “Hodges' recitals always boldly go where few other pianists dare... with an energy that sometimes defies belief.”


Hodges’ virtuosity and innate musicianship give him an assured command over the most strenuous technical complexities, making him a firm favourite among many of today’s most prestigious contemporary composers. Close collaboration with such contrasting figures as John Adams, Helmut Lachenmann and the late Karlheinz Stockhausen is central to Hodges’ career and many of the world’s most revered composers have dedicated works to him, including Thomas Adès, Gerald Barry, Elliott Carter, James Clarke, Hugues Dufourt, Pascal Dusapin, Beat Furrer, Isabel Mundry, Brice Pauset, Wolfgang Rihm and Miroslav Srnka. Hodges enjoyed a particularly close relationship with the late Sir Harrison Birtwistle, who described Hodges as “like my Peter Pears”.


In September 2018, it was announced that Hodges’ long-term collaborator, the composer Rebecca Saunders, had been selected by Roche Commissions as the 10th recipient in their commissioning series. to an utterance was premiered by Hodges at the Lucerne Festival, with the Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra and Enno Poppe, in September 2021, marking the seventh work on which Hodges and Saunders have collaborated. Further performances of the work have included with the Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra conducted by Enno Poppe at the Musikfest Berlin; the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi at Milano Musica/La Scala; and the London Philharmonic Orchestra with Edward Gardner at the Royal Festival Hall.


Recent world premiere performance highlights for Nicolas Hodges have included Betsy Jolas’ bTunes for Nicolas, at the BBC Proms, with Karina Canellakis and the BBC Symphony Orchestra; Simon Steen-Andersen’s award-winning Piano Concerto with Francois-Xavier Roth and the SWR Symphony Orchestra Freiburg Baden-Baden at the Donaueschingen Festival, with subsequent performances with the Bergen Philharmonic and Edward Gardner, and the Helsinki Philharmonic and André de Ridder at Musica nova Helsinki; Mountain Messenger by Christian Wolff, with the Basel Sinfonietta and Ilan Volkov; Variations from the Golden Mountains by Sir Harrison Birtwistle at London's Wigmore Hall; and Gerald Barry’s Piano Concerto, with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Peter Rundel, followed by the UK premiere with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Thomas Adès in Birmingham, repeated at the Aldeburgh Festival. He also gave the world premiere of Thomas Adès' own piano concerto In Seven Days with the London Sinfonietta, followed by further performances of the work with orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra of Europe.

Other notable performance highlights for Nicolas Hodges have included the world premiere performance of Elliott Carter's Dialogues for piano and orchestra with the London Sinfonietta and Oliver Knussen. Hodges also gave the US and Berlin premieres of the work with the Chicago Symphony and Berlin Philharmonic orchestras respectively – both conducted by Daniel Barenboim – and the New York premiere, at Carnegie Hall, with the MET Orchestra. Hodges has performed a variety of works at the BBC Proms, notably Messiaen’s Des canyons aux étoiles... with Sakari Oramo and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, having performed the Ligeti Piano Concerto with the orchestra earlier in the same season, and the UK premiere of Michael Finnissy’s Piano Concerto with the Britten Sinfonia.


Nicolas Hodges has established successful relationships with many of today’s leading orchestras and ensembles, and engagements include regular performances with orchestras such as the BBC Symphony, Boston Symphony, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, hr-Sinfonieorchester Frankfurt, London Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Melbourne Symphony, MET Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Orchestre Philharmonique de Luxembourg, Philharmonia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, St Louis Symphony, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic, Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich and WDR Sinfonieorchester Cologne, and ensembles including ASKO/Schoenberg, Amsterdam, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Contrechamps Geneva, International Contemporary Ensemble New York and the Remix Ensemble, Porto. 


Among the distinguished conductors with whom Nicolas Hodges regularly collaborates are Thomas Adès, Daniel Barenboim, George Benjamin, Martyn Brabbins, Sylvain Cambreling, Edward Gardner, Susanna Mälkki, Cornelius Meister, Jonathan Nott, Emilio Pomarico, David Robertson, Pascal Rophé, François- Xavier Roth, Peter Rundel, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Pierre-André Valade, Ilan Volkov and Ryan Wigglesworth. 


Also an avid chamber musician, Hodges has performed in Berlin (Musikfest), Brussels (Ars Musica), Hamburg (Ostertoene), Helsinki (Musica Nova), London (Barbican Centre, Wigmore Hall, Southbank Centre and the BBC Proms), Lucerne (Festival), Madrid (INAEM), Melbourne International Arts Festival, New York (Carnegie Hall and Mostly Mozart), Paris (IRCAM and Festival d’ Automne), Rome (IUC), Salzburg (Festival and Biennale), Strasbourg (Musica), Stuttgart (Eclat), Tanglewood (Festival), Tokyo, Vienna (Wien Modern) and Zurich (Tage für Neue Musik). He also collaborates regularly with the Arditti Quartet, Adrian Brendel, Colin Currie, Ilya Gringolts, Anssi Karttunen, Michael Wendeberg, Carolin Widmann and has been a member of Trio Accanto since 2013. 


Nicolas Hodges’ varied discography includes Thomas Adès’ piano concerto In Seven Days, with the London Sinfonietta conducted by Thomas Adès (Signum Classics); Pascal Dusapin’s concerto À Quia (BIS); the complete late piano works of Sciarrino (Metronome); and music by Michael Finnissy and Gershwin (Metronome). Hodges has recorded four solo discs on Wergo, including works by Walter Zimmermann, Brice Pauset, Rolf Riehm and Harrison Birtwistle – the last coupled with Beethoven and including the first recording of the prize-winning Gigue Machine – as well as a disc of works by Christian Wolff with Trio Accanto. Forthcoming discs contain works by Annesley Black, Pierre Boulez and Rebecca Saunders.

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