Alfred Brendel

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Alfred Brendel 2010

Alfred Brendel , KBE (born January 5, 1931 in Wiesenberg , Czechoslovakia ) is an Austrian pianist . He is considered one of the most important interpreters of classical-romantic music of the 20th century.


When Brendel was three years old, the family moved to Yugoslavia , where the parents ran a pension on the Adriatic island of Krk . He attended school in Zagreb , where he received piano lessons from Sofija Deželić at the age of six. After moving to Graz in 1943, he studied piano and composition at the local conservatory . He completed his piano studies with Paul Baumgartner and especially with Edwin Fischer . In 1947 he passed the state examination in piano at the Academy for Music and Performing Arts in Vienna . In 1949 he started his international career as a prize winner at the Busoni competition in Bolzano . In 1950 he moved to Vienna and in the early 1970s to London , Hampstead .

Brendel is married for the second time. He had his first marriage from 1960 to 1972 with Iris Heymann-Gonzala, from her daughter Doris. Doris Brendel is a folk-pop-rock musician and was the singer of the band "The Violet Hour" (album "The Fire Sermon" 1991). In 1975 he married Irene Semler and they have three children with her, their son Adrian (a musician with whom he also worked) and two daughters, Katharina and Sophie.


Brendel is best known for his interpretations of the piano works by Franz Schubert , Ludwig van Beethoven , Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Franz Liszt . He is the first pianist who completely recorded Beethoven's piano works . He has also made a name for himself as a song accompanist (among others with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau ). Joachim Kaiser considered Brendel to be the most important Schubert interpreter of the second half of the 20th century.

In his last concert years he recorded Beethoven's cello sonatas with his son, the cellist Adrian Brendel .

On 18 December 2008, adopted by Brendel concert life with the Jenamy piano concerto by Mozart ; the Vienna Philharmonic under Charles Mackerras played in the Musikverein .

In 2009 Brendel had an appearance in the award-winning documentary by the two directors Lilian Franck and Robert Cibis , Pianomania . The film was very well received nationally and internationally, was celebrated at many festivals and included in the catalog of the Goethe Institute .


Brendel is also an essayist whose essays on musical topics are available in several anthologies. In the volume “Reflecting on Music” he deals with Beethoven, Schubert, Liszt, Busoni and questions of interpretation. He compares Schubert's sonatas with those of Beethoven and tries to work out Schubert's independence from the great model. Unlike the “architect” Beethoven, Schubert “composed like a sleepwalker”. While Beethoven put his music in a fixed framework, Schubert put more trust in the directness of the emotions. With Schubert, the “burden of form” should weigh as lightly as possible.

Brendel also writes poetry (humorous, bizarre, grotesque); five collections have appeared so far.

Fonts (selection)



  • Pointing the finger. 45 texts , Munich 1996.
  • Annoying laughter while saying yes. New texts , Munich 1997.
  • Little devils. New poems , Munich 1999.
  • One finger too many. 142 poems , Munich 2000.
  • Mirror image and black ghost. Collected and new poems , Munich 2003.

Awards and honors


Web links

Commons : Alfred Brendel  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^
  2. "I see the end clearly and without tears" . In: Die Zeit , No. 19/2008; interview
  3. Alfred Brendel receives Duisburg Music Prize . In: Rheinische Post . April 23, 2009, p. A7 .
  4. Alfred Brendel was awarded the Mozart Medal ( Memento from October 9, 2016 in the Internet Archive ),, January 29, 2014
  5. The Festschrift contains articles by Imogen Cooper , Andreas Dorschel , Till Fellner , Peter Gülke , Florence Noiville and Simon Rattle, among others .