Alfred Brendel, piano
Alfred Brendel Biography
Alfred Brendel studied piano and composition in Zagreb and Graz, completing his piano studies with Edwin Fischer, Paul Baumgartner and Eduard Steuermann. For 60 years he enjoyed a distinguished international career concentrating on the works of central European composers from Bach to Schoenberg but also featuring many works by Liszt. He was the first pianist to record Beethoven's complete piano works, and was highly influential in getting Schubert's Piano Sonatas and the Schoenberg Piano Concerto recognised as integral parts of the piano repertoire. He has performed regularly at the world's musical centres and festivals, and with the leading orchestras and conductors, and his extensive discography has made him one of the most respected artists of our time. His final concert appearance was with the Vienna Philharmonic on December 18, 2008, which was voted one of the 100 greatest cultural moments of the last ten years by The Daily Telegraph.
He has received honorary degrees from many universities including Oxford and Yale and was awarded an honorary KBE in 1989. In 1992 he received the Hans von Bülow Medal from the Berlin Philharmonic and was granted Honorary Membership of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in December 1998. In 2001 he was recipient of the "Lifetime Achievement" awards at both the MIDEM Cannes Classical Awards, and the Edison Awards in Holland, as well as the prestigious "Beethoven Ring" from the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna. He has received the Leonie Sonning Prize, the Robert Schumann Prize, the 2002 South Bank Show Classical Music Award, as well as the 2004 Ernst von Siemens Prize, the 2007 Venice Prize "A life for music", the 2008 Karajan Prize and the 2009 Praemium Imperiale in Tokyo.
Besides music, literature has remained Alfred Brendel's foremost interest and second occupation. He has published two books of essays, Musical Thoughts and Afterthoughts and Music Sounded Out the latter of which was awarded the 1990 Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award for writing. A volume of collected essays, Alfred Brendel on Music, came out in January 2001 to mark his 70th birthday. There are also three German collections of poems which have been followed by a volume of collected poems, Spiegelbild und schwarzer Spuk, as well as volumes of translations into French, Italian and Dutch. Two English selections entitled One Finger Too Many and Cursing Bagels appeared in the Faber Poetry Series. A biligual edition of collected poems ("Playing the Human Game" Phaidon Press) is available from December 2010. A book of conversations with Martin Meyer, Ausgerechnet ich, was published in 2001, it's English version (2002) bearing the title The Veil of Order.
Alfred Brendel continues to give lectures, poetry readings and masterclasses throughout the world, including the Wigmore Hall in London, the Laeiszhall in Hamburg, the Cité de la Musique in Paris, the Musikhochschule in Freiburg, the Berlin Philharmonie, Zurich University and the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna, as well as New York University, Cal Performances Berkeley and Harvard.
For further information, please visit the website www.alfredbrendel.com.
Alfred Brendel will join the InterHarmony International Music Festival in Acqui Terme, Italy, on July 21, 2017, to deliver a lecture on performing Mozart, a composer whose “mastery and power of expression […] seem virtually unlimited”. Brendel's talks have been roundly praised due to his uncanny ability to translate his informed and astute interpretations of the classical tradition from musical expression to verbal description. This lecture is not only chance for students to benefit from his observations and insights into problems of performance – it is a way to hear the master demonstrate musical examples.
Regularly cited as one of the most important pianists of the last century, Alfred Brendel’s unlikely career began as a largely self-taught pianist in a non-musical family, until a breakthrough performance of Beethoven rocketed him to international fame. His recordings and performances would reinvent the Austro-Hungarian tradition for modern audiences. His discography, one of the most extensive ever recorded by a pianist, includes the complete piano works of Beethoven and all of Mozart's piano concerti. He has been recognized with honorary doctorates from Cambridge, Oxford and Yale, as well as the Lifetime Achievement Awards of Edison, MIDEM Classical Awards, the Deutscher Schallplattenpreis and Gramophone Magazine, the recording industry's highest accolade.