Michael Houstoun was born in Timaru, New Zealand, in 1952 and showed an early aptitude for music. Under the tutelage of Sr Mary Eulalie and Maurice Till he moved through the examination grades and by the age of 18 had won every major piano competition in New Zealand.
His first international success came in 1973 when he won third prize at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Further study with Rudolf Serkin followed and in 1975 he took fourth prize at the Leeds International Piano Competition. After six years living in the USA and London (where he undertook valuable study with Brigitte Wild) he returned to New Zealand in 1981 where he has remained ever since.
One more international competition, the Tchaikovsky in 1982 where he took sixth place, signalled the end of his competitive career. Since then he has amassed a large repertoire (40 concertos, the complete Beethoven sonatas etc) covering most styles from JS Bach to the present day and including chamber music, orchestral scores, song accompaniment, and many commissions from New Zealand composers.
His awards include the Turnovsky Prize (1982), an honorary doctorate in literature (Massey University, 1999), a New Zealand Arts Foundation laureateship (2007), an honorary doctorate in music (Victoria University of Wellington, 2011), Life Membership of Chamber Music New Zealand, and he was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2012 Diamond Jubilee Queen’s Birthday honours.
He is Advocate for Chamber Music New Zealand and Patron of the Nelson School of Music, the Regent on Broadway theatre in Palmerston North, the Kerikeri International Piano Competition, The New Zealand Institute of Registered Music Teachers and the New Zealand Music Examinations Board.
Although he has played in the USA, Europe and Asia he currently restricts his performing life to New Zealand, happily free from the burdens of international travel and large scale professional infrastructures.