Jan Hugo was born in South Africa and started his musical education at a young age in Pretoria. He made his debut at 12 years old with the Hugo Lambrechts Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Leon Hartshorne, playing Saint-Saëns’ 5th piano concerto.
Just 13 years old, Jan was invited by Francesco Cipolletta to continue his studies in Modena, Italy, where a few years later he completed his Bachelor of Music degree with honorary mention cum laude. Jan continued his studies at the prestigious Accademia Pianistica Internazionale “Incontri col Maestro” in Imola, Italy, where he received guidance from Franco Scala and Boris Petrushansky. He has taken part in many masterclasses with world-renowned teachers such as Michel Dalberto, Joaquin Soriano, Robert Levin, Vovka Ashkenazy, Graham Scott, Olga Paschenko. From 2013 to 2016 Jan continued his studies at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater “Mendelssohn Bartholdy” in Leipzig, Germany, and completed his Master’s degree cum laude.
Jan has been a top prize-winner in South Africa and Europe, including 1st prize at the UNISA National Piano competition in Pretoria, overall winner of the SAMRO Bursary Competition, 1st prize of the Royal Overseas League Piano Competition in London, 2nd prize at the Alkan-Zimmerman Competition in Athens. He also received study bursaries from the Italian Cultural Institute and the DAAD.
He has performed in major concert halls and festivals throughout Europe, including at the Liszt-en-Provence Festival in France, Queen Elizabeth Hall and St. Martin in the Fields (London), the TivoliVredenburg Hall (Utrecht, Netherlands), MITO festival (Milan and Turin), Sala Mozart (Bologna). He is regularly invited to perform at all the major South African music societies and has performed as soloist with the Johannesburg Philharmonic, the KwaZulu Natal Philharmonic and Cape Town Philharmonic, under the baton of Daniel Boico, Sebastien Lang-Lessing, Bernhard Gueller, Arjan Tien, German Guttierez, Alexander Rahbari.
Jan is passionate about Franz Liszt’s music and has received guidance from numerous Liszt specialists such as Leslie Howard, Bertrand Ott and Cyprien Katsaris. He also performs on historical instruments and is currently doing research at the Sorbonne University in Paris on Thalberg and 19th century historical performance practice.
Jan often collaborates as an accompanist with Cape Town Opera and various symphonic choirs in Paris. He has a duo with his wife, the soprano Clara Hugo, and they have performed extensively in South Africa and Europe. They are currently specialising in 20th century Italian art songs at the Milan Conservatory.