Alfred Brendel, pianist


Alfred Brendel, pianist
Photo credit: Benjamin Ealovega
Click on image to enlarge.

"Brendel's playing is distinguished by its heightened intellectual and emotional intensity, by his ability to energize details while sustaining taut lines, by his infallible grasp of musical architecture and by his extraordinary empathy with composers. His performances often achieve a sense of inevitability. Surely, a listener feels, this is what the composer intended."
~ Time

"One of the defining performers of our age"
~ Boston Globe

"The audience felt as if he had taken them on a miraculous adventure of mind and music"
~ Chicago Tribune

ALFRED BRENDEL new chapters for a Renaissance man

from THE TELEGRAPH, 26 Dec 2010:
"For a man who officially retired from performing two years ago and is approaching his 80th birthday, Alfred Brendel has a remarkably packed schedule. When I meet him, he has just returned from giving a lecture series in Munich, and the next day is due to talk on "Character in Music in Beethoven's 32 Piano Sonatas" at the Wigmore Hall. He's also about to bring out a collected edition of his poems (in German and English) and next month will be giving masterclasses in Paris.

With all this hectic activity, Brendel has hardly had time to miss the concert platform, and certainly gives no sign of it.

"Well, it seemed the right time. Ideally I would like to have just quietly stopped without telling anyone, so I could avoid all those farewell parties, with the tears I did not shed!"  He laughs, clearly relishing the memory of disobeying a social convention..."I mapped out exactly what I would do when I retired. For a long time I had a literary life -- not a hobby, a second life," he says, eyeing me to be sure I've grasped the distinction, "and it was nice to pursue lecturing and writing in a more focused way."

Click here to read the full interview with Ivan Hewett.

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This season, Decca releases a new album, Alfred Brendel: a Birthday Tribute, and Phaidon releases of a major collection of Brendel's poetry, "Playing the Human Game".
Click here for a video of an afternoon tea with the Maestro with collaborator (on the English versions) Richard Stokes.

In October Brendel received GRAMOPHONE MAGAZINE's Lifetime Achievement Award.

ALFRED BRENDEL continues his life as a performer with poetry readings and lectures in Munich, Vienna, Paris, Berlin, Rome, et al., and returns to North America for lecture appearances in the period October 14 - November 5, 2011.

Lectures include:


All lectures are illustrated with musical examples, with the Maestro at the keyboard.

"You know, even though I have stopped playing, my musicality is still developing," he says. "I notice it when I teach that the clarity of speed of my musical vision has actually improved. If I could play Schubert's Wanderer Fantasy today with the physical condition of 30 years ago that would be ideal, as I have a much clearer idea what to do with it now."

(February 2011)

ALFRED BRENDEL on first US lecture tour
Pianist ALFRED BRENDEL kicked off a US lecture tour this week, offering his presentation, "On Character in Music", at the Philharmonic Society of Orange County.
"By assigning Beethoven's sonatas characters, descriptive phases, moods and other labels, he turns analysis, often so mathematical and structural, into a kind of poetry, available to the everyman. And though based on solid scholarship, he has fun with it, uses his imagination...Hearing Brendel talk about and play them again, even if in small slices, was a reminder of why he was such a great, beloved musician for so many years. He made them vivid for us." Timothy Mangan, The OC REGISTER, October 27, 2009
October 26 • Philharmonic Society of Orange County

October 30 • University of California, Berkeley

November 4 - 6 • New England Conservatory of Music

November 9 • Princeton University

November 11 • Yale University

November 16 • Washington Performing Arts Society (D.C.)

November 18 - 22 • The Juilliard School, co-sponsored by Carnegie Hall

Click here to read The Times Oct. 3, 2009 interview with Mr. Brendel, sharing his thoughts on life after performance, absurdist poetry, humor in music and more.

(November 2009)

Alfred Brendel returns to North America for recitals, Dada-esque poetry readings and more
Alfred Brendel is in the U.S. this month for his annual North American tour. With readings from his various books of Dada-esque poetry and recitals in Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, Vancouver, at Carnegie Hall and elsewhere, as well as the Mozart Piano Concerto K.453 with the Boston and Chicago symphony orchestras, the acclaim is universal:

"There are other ways to serve up this timeless music. For two delightful hours Sunday, Brendel's seemed the only way." - Michael Cameron for the CHIGAGO TRIBUNE, March 6, 2007

"When Brendel sits down at the Steinway, as he did Tuesday night when he gave a recital in Walt Disney Concert Hall, all the world drops away." - Mark Swed for the LOS ANGELES TIMES, March 15, 2007

"His is always an intimate rapport with the music, and he seems to shed light on everything he plays. Beethoven's Op. 110 Sonata No. 31 in A-flat major, with its two sublime ariosos, came next in a brilliantly luminous reading; Brendel's playing was of the highest order, its beauty of tone and poetic sensibility always in service to the composer's voice." - Georgia Rowe for the CONTRA COSTA TIMES, March 19, 2007 (March 2007)

The incomparable Alfred Brendel - Brilliant technical and expressive skills
No discussion of pianists can be complete without mention of the incomparable Alfred Brendel. A musician who has built a career on brilliant technical and expressive skills, Mr. Brendelšs performance is intimate, thought provoking and utterly exceptional. This season he toured the US with acclaimed recital and concert appearances, rounded off by a reading of his poetry at the New York Public Library. (April 2006)

Alfred Brendel plays Mozart's Piano Concerto K.595 with the Berlin Philharmonic and Simon Rattle at Carnegie Hall.
Alfred Brendel plays the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 27 in B flat major, K. 595 with the Berlin Philharmonic and Simon Rattle at Carnegie Hall on January 27th, the first concert of his annual month-long tour of North America when he also appears with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra and in recitals returning to Carnegie Hall for a program of Haydn, Mozart, and Schubert on February 27th. (January 2006)

"A Master Conjures Magical Moments" headlines the review of Alfred Brendel's recent Seattle recital.
ALFRED BRENDEL began his annual month-long American tour with 3 sold out performances of Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466 with James Levine and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and received standing ovations every night. In addition to Seattle and his yearly concerts in Carnegie Hall and Chicago, Brendel's sold out recital stops this season include Denver, Santa Barbara, Ottawa, St. Paul, and his first appearance ever in North Carolina's newly re-opened Meymandi Concert Hall. His recital audience in Ottawa will have the extra added perq of a Brendel poetry reading, to be recorded by the CBC for future broadcast. Stay tuned..... (March 2005)