The English pianist, conductor and teacher, Ian Hobson, studied piano and organ at the Royal Academy of Music in London; then pursued academic studies at Magdalene College in Cambridge, receiving B.A. degree in 1972. Subsequently he studied piano with Claude Frank and harpsichord with Ralph Kirkpatrick at the Yale University in the USA, receiving D.M.A. in 1978. Among his distinguished teachers were also Sidney Harrison, Ward Davenny, and Menahem Pressler. He made his London debut in 1979. Silver medals in the Artur Rubinstein and Vienna-Beethoven competitions preceded a first prize in the 1981 Leeds International Piano Competition.
With that award, Ian Hobson found himself fully launched on an international solo career. He made his USA debut in New York in 1983. In addition to performing recitals, he has appeared with many of the world's major orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Scottish National Orchestra (now the Royal Scottish National), Royal Liverpool Orchestra, Hallé Orchestra, ORD-Vienna, Beethoven Orchester Bonn, Israel Sinfonietta, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and Houston Symphony Orchestra.
Ian Hobson's programs consistently demonstrate a repertoire that spans the centuries and demands an extraordinary command of styles and scholarly vision, in addition to great keyboard prowess. His recordings and recital performances encompass a cross section of works from mammoth to miniature: a series of works from The London Pianoforte School, the complete cycle of L.v. Beethoven Piano Sonatas, all of Johannes Brahms' Variations for Piano, as well as Sergei Rachmaninov's 17 Études-Tableaux and 24 Preludes, Frédéric Chopin-Leopold Godowsky's Etudes, J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations (BWV 988), and contemporary works written for him by Ridout, Lees, Liptak, and Gardner. An ingenious programmer, he commemorated the 200th anniversary of the Franz Schubert's birth in a unique recital at New York's 92nd Street Y during the 1997-1998 season; entitled Homage to Schubert; the program comprised Ravel's Valses nobles et sentimentales, the great Sonata in G major, D894 by Schubert himself and the complete arrangements for piano of Schubert's compositions by Leopold Godowsky.
Increasingly, Ian Hobson is in demand as a conductor, particularly for performances in which he doubles as piano soloist. He made his debut with the Stuttgarter Kammerorchester as conductor and soloist in October 1997. He has led the English Chamber Orchestra, Kibbutz Chamber Orchestra of Israel, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Northwest Chamber Orchestra, Fort Worth Chamber Orchestra, Fresno Philharmonic, San Diego Chamber Orchestra, Santa Rosa Symphony, Nebraska Chamber Orchestra, and Tallahassee Symphony, as well as his own Sinfonia da Camera - a chamber orchestra he formed in 1984 which quickly gained international recognition through its recordings. Hobson also is heard with some frequency as a partner in duo piano and piano four-hands recitals with his wife, Claude Edrei Hobson. In addition to his many other activities, he has conducted opera. Espousing repertory from Giovanni Battista Pergolesi to Richard Strauss, Hobson performed and recorded John Philip Sousa's El capitan in the world premiere of a new concert edition. The production, featuring the Sinfonia da Camera and a cast of young singers, was released on the Zephyr label in early 1998. Since he founded the ensemble in 1984, Hobson has attracted world-class artists to perform with the Sinfonia da Camera. Violinists Pamela Frank, Gil Shaham, Itzhak Perlman, Elmar Oliveira, and Pinchas Zukerman; pianists Michel Block, Charles Rosen, and Menahem Pressler; clarinetists David Shifrin and Richard Stoltzman; guitarist Christopher Parkening; and singers Marilyn Horne and Nathan Gunn are but a few who have appeared during the Sinfonia's annual concert series.
During the last several seasons, engagements have included appearances at Alice Tully Hall, at New York's Mostly Mozart Festival, performances of the F. Chopin and Moscheles concertos at the Bard Music Festival, and recitals in the USA, England and Italy. He performed the Piano Concerto of Henry Holden Huss at Carnegie Hall with the American Composers Orchestra and the Concerto for Piano of Clara Schumann on Great Performers at Lincoln Center. He performed and recorded Paderewski's Piano Concerto and Fantasie Polonaise with the Sinfonia Varsovia conducted by Jerzy Maksymiuk in 1995. In January 1997 he performed and recorded the Henry Holden Huss Concerto and the Ernest Schelling Suite Fantastique with Martyn Brabbams and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.
Ian Hobson is also active as an opera conductor with a wide range of repertoire ranging from Cimarosa and G.B. Pergolesi, W.A. Mozart and L.v. Beethoven through works by Johann and Richard Strauss. In September 1997 he conducted and recorded John Philip Sousa's comic opera El Capitan in a newly restored version with the Sinfonia da Camera and a stellar cast of young singers; the recording was released in January 1998 on the new Zephyr label recently founded by Hobson.
In 1975 Ian Hobson joined the faculty of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana as music professor. Since then he has made that school a center for exciting performance both during the regular academic year and as director of the Summer Music Festival. Aside from an astonishingly active performance and teaching schedule, he is a much sought-after judge for both national and international competitions. He was invited at the specific request of Van Cliburn to participate as a juror for both the preliminary and final rounds of the Tenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 1997. In 1998 he acted as juror, performed as a recitalist and conducted the final round of the Artur Rubinstein Competition in Poland. In March of 2000 he was a juror for the Chopin Competition in Florida. In September 2001 he joined the jury for the International Pianoforte Competition Cologne (Foundation Tomassoni) in Germany.
Ian Hobson has made many recordings for other labels during the course of his career. Arabesque Recordings has produced more than twenty recordings by artist. Recent releases on this label include "The Complete Solo Piano Transcriptions and Arrangements of Sergei Rachmaninov," "The Complete Piano Variations of Johannes Brahms," "The Complete Piano Sonatas & Other Works of Robert Schumann," "Hobson's Choice" (a collection of the pianist's favorite pieces, exploring the multiple faces of virtuosity across three centuries of music). Recent releases include a disc of the "Piano Music of Benjamin Lees" for Albany Troy; the complete Felix Mendelssohn "Works for Piano and Orchestra" for Arabesque; the S. Rachmaninov "Early Piano Works," also for Arabesque; and the Huss Piano Concerto and Schelling "Suite Fantastique" for Hyperion. With William Warfield and the Sinfonia da Camera, Hobson recorded Igor Stravinsky's L'Histoire du Soldat and William Walton's Facade. BMG's Catalyst label has also released his recording of Kevin Oldham's Concerto for Piano, Op. 14, with the Kansas City Symphony under the direction of William McLaughlin. He has recorded W.A. Mozart's Piano Concertos Nos. 23 and 24 with the English Chamber Orchestra conducted by Sir Alexander Gibson for EMI.
In January 1998 Ian Hobson formed Zephyr Productions, Inc. as the parent company for his new label, Zephyr Records. The inaugural releases on the Zephyr label included the complete L.v. Beethoven's Piano Sonatas as well as the Sousa opera. Other recent releases include works by Falla and Ravel; two volumes of concertos by Ignaz Moscheles; the Schubert/Godowsky transcriptions for piano; and David Johnson's Twelve Preludes and Fugues for Piano. Upcoming releases will include music for two pianos by Camille Saint-Saëns/Franz Liszt.