Alfred BrendelLast November, Austrian pianist Alfred Brendel announced that he would be retiring from the concert stage at the end of 2008. At 77-years-old, he has now been performing publicly for 60 years. The recordings of his early career show a little greater variety of music and a little more verve, but he has earned the regard of many as the pre-eminent interpreter of the Austro-Germanic repertoire and as an intellectual and traditionalist when it comes to music-making. He believes that music needs to be brought to life and have feeling in the way the composer intended, not by molding it to his own or another person's expressive ideas.
He has recorded the Beethoven and some of the Mozart concertos more than a couple of times.

 
 
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 17, Op. 31/2 "Tempest" - 1. Largo-Allegro-Adagio
Liszt: La campanella, S. 140/3
Schoenberg: Piano Concerto, Op. 42
Schubert: Piano Sonata in B flat major, D 960 - 1. Molto moderato
Liszt: Sonata in B minor
Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 21 - 2. Andante
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3 - 3. Rondo
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 - 3. Rondo


Brendel is not always the sober-minded musician that one might think. His most famous lecture is titled "Must Classical Music be Entirely Serious?" and the interview book about his life and music is entitled "Me, of All People." He has also written and published a fair amount of comic poetry, not just about music, but other cultural icons and phenomena as well (the two books available in English are One Finger Too Many and Cursing Bagels).

Last night in Washington, DC, he played his last recital in the US. If you want to see him in person now, you'll have to catch him in Europe. If that's not possible, check out his official website maintained by Philips/Decca. Among the usual items found on any artist's website, there are some humorous pictures in his bio and, under the "Brendel on Culture" heading, you'll find lists of his favorite recordings and his favorite paintings.