32 Facts About Alfred Brendel


Alfred Brendel KBE was born on 5 January 1931 and is an Austrian classical pianist, poet, author, composer, and lecturer who is noted for his performances of Mozart, Schubert, Schoenberg, and Beethoven.


Alfred Brendel later moved to Graz, Austria, where he studied piano with Ludovica von Kaan at the Graz Conservatory and composition with Artur Michel.


Towards the end of World War II, the 14-year-old Alfred Brendel was sent back to Yugoslavia to dig trenches.


Alfred Brendel gave his first public recital in Graz at the age of 17.


Alfred Brendel called it "The Fugue in Piano Literature", and as well as fugal works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Johannes Brahms and Franz Liszt, it included a sonata of Brendel's own composition.


Alfred Brendel then toured throughout Europe and Latin America, slowly building his career and participating in a few masterclasses of Paul Baumgartner, Eduard Steuermann and Edwin Fischer.


Alfred Brendel's first recording was of Sergei Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No 5 in 1950.


Alfred Brendel went on to make a string of other records, including three complete sets of the Beethoven piano sonatas.


Alfred Brendel was the first performer to record the complete solo piano works of Beethoven.


Alfred Brendel has recorded numerous works by Liszt, Brahms, Robert Schumann and particularly Franz Schubert.


An important collection of Alfred Brendel is the complete Mozart piano concertos recorded with Sir Neville Marriner and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, which is included in the Philips 180 CD complete Mozart Edition.


Alfred Brendel has recorded or performed little of the music of Frederic Chopin, but not because of any lack of admiration for the composer.


Alfred Brendel considers Chopin's Preludes "the most glorious achievement in piano music after Beethoven and Schubert".


Alfred Brendel recorded extensively for the Vox label, providing them his first of three sets of the complete Beethoven sonatas.


Alfred Brendel's breakthrough came after a recital of Beethoven at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, the day after which three major record labels called his agent.


Since the 1970s, Alfred Brendel has recorded for Philips Classics Records.


Alfred Brendel completed many tours in Europe, the United States, South America, Japan and Australia.


Alfred Brendel had a particularly close association with the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, but played regularly with all major orchestras in the US and elsewhere.


Alfred Brendel has performed many cycles of the Beethoven Sonatas and Concertos, and was one of the few pianists who, in later years, could continue to fill large halls.


Alfred Brendel is only the third pianist to have been awarded honorary membership of the Vienna Philharmonic, and he was awarded the Hans von Bulow Medal by the Berlin Philharmonic.


Alfred Brendel frequently performed the music of Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert and Mozart.


Alfred Brendel has played relatively few 20th century works but has performed Arnold Schoenberg's Piano Concerto.


Alfred Brendel's playing is sometimes described as being "cerebral", and he has said that he believes the primary job of the pianist is to respect the composer's wishes without showing off himself, or adding his own spin on the music: "I am responsible to the composer, and particularly to the piece".


Alfred Brendel has worked with younger pianists such as Paul Lewis, Amandine Savary, Till Fellner and, most recently, Kit Armstrong.


Alfred Brendel has performed in concert and recorded with his son Adrian and has appeared in many Lieder recitals with Hermann Prey, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Matthias Goerne.


In November 2007 Alfred Brendel announced that he would retire from the concert platform after his concert of 18 December 2008 in Vienna, which featured him as soloist in Mozart's Piano Concerto No 9 in E-flat; the orchestra was conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras.


Alfred Brendel's first marriage, from 1960 to 1972, was to Iris Heymann-Gonzala, which produced a daughter, Doris, who is a progressive rock and pop rock musician.


In 1975, Alfred Brendel married Irene Semler, and the couple have three children; a son, Adrian, who is a cellist, and two daughters, Katharina and Sophie.


Alfred Brendel's writings have appeared in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, Korean, and other languages.


Alfred Brendel is an honorary Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford and Peterhouse, Cambridge.


Alfred Brendel has received Lifetime Achievement Awards by Edison, Midem Classical Awards, Deutscher Schallplattenpreis, Gramophone, and ECHO Klassik.


Alfred Brendel was included in Peter Donohoe's "Fifty Great Pianists" series for BBC Radio 3, which aired in 2012.