Scholarly, personable, fastidious, and perceptive in matters of style, Ian Hobson achieved his reputation as a pianist able to do justice to music of many periods.
His thoughtful pursuit of interesting repertory has transferred itself to his work as conductor. With his own Sinfonia da Camera, as well as with other leading chamber orchestras, Hobson has offered stimulating concerts, some of which have been preparatory to recordings for the company he founded specifically to document both standard repertory and other works of unusual interest. He has been a long-standing music professor at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana during the regular academic year and as director of the Summer Music Festival.
After schooling at the Royal Academy of Music and Cambridge University, Hobson undertook further studies at Yale University. Among his teachers were Sidney Harrison, Claude Franck, and Menahem Pressler. Silver medals in the Artur Rubinstein and Vienna-Beethoven competitions preceded a first prize in the 1981 Leeds International Piano Competition. With that award, Hobson found himself fully launched on an international solo career. In addition to performing recitals, Hobson appeared with many of the world's major orchestras, including several in London, the Scottish National Orchestra (now the Royal Scottish National), the Halle, the Royal Liverpool Orchestra, the Orchester der Beethovenhalle, the ORD-Vienna, the New Zealand Symphony, and many of America's principal symphonic ensembles. His concerto repertory, aside from more customary fare, includes the concertos of Mendelssohn's mentor, Ignaz Moscheles, and Ignace Paderewski (works recorded by the pianist), Clara Schumann, and Henry Holden Huss. For recitals, Hobson has included in his eclectic programming works such as Brahms' Variations for Piano, the Chopin-Godowsky etudes, Rachmaninov's Preludes and 17 Etudes-Tableaux, in addition to works written for him by contemporary composers, including Gardner, Lees, Liptak, and Ridout. Demand has grown for appearances that present Hobson as both conductor and soloist with such orchestras as the English Chamber Orchestra, the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, the Kibbutz Chamber Orchestra of Israel, the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, and his own Sinfonia da Camera. 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 Hobson's many other activities, he has conducted opera. Espousing repertory from Pergolesi to Richard Strauss, he 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, was released on the Zephyr label in early 1998. Since he founded Sinfonia da Camera in 1984, Hobson has attracted world-class artists to perform with the ensemble . 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. Aside from an active performance and teaching schedule, Hobson has served on competition juries, and at the request of Van Cliburn served as a juror for the preliminary and final rounds of the 10th Cliburn International Piano Competition in 1997. The following year, Hobson returned to Poland for the Artur Rubinstein Competition, this time multi-tasking as juror, recitalist, and orchestra conductor for the schedule's final round. He continues to maintain a busy schedule as a recitalist in a broad variety of repertoire.