Alfred Brendel is a pianist and the author of several books of essays and poetry, most recently Music, Sense and Nonsense: Collected Essays and Lectures. (October 2016)
IN THE REVIEW
The Growing Charm of Dada
Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round So Our Thoughts Can Change Direction
Some Winter Wonders
Schubert’s Winter Journey: Anatomy of an ObsessionIs Schubert, among great composers, the most immediately moving? I would think so. But he was also the most phenomenal in the amount of work he produced. Even next to the prodigious output of Bach and Handel, Haydn and Mozart, Schubert’s accomplishments seem truly inconceivable, considering that he lived for …
A Pianist’s A–VThere are exceptional cases where events from the composer’s life can be traced in the music. Beethoven, in his Sonata op. 110, composed the experience of returning to life after a severe case of jaundice. Similarly, Schoenberg in his String Trio turned a major health crisis into sound. And Brahms conceived his D-Minor Piano Concerto under the impact of Schumann’s plunge into the Rhine. Generally, however, the desire to link tendencies and incidents in an artist’s life to his compositions will lead us astray. The notion that a griever longs to compose his grief, a dying musician the experience of dying, or a person overwhelmed with joy his gaiety belongs in the realm of fairy tales.
Beethoven’s Musical CharactersEach sonata by Beethoven has its own particular character. But is this really anything more than a platitude? Should we still be clinging to such concepts as “character” and “atmosphere”? Aren’t the musical cognoscenti interested primarily in understanding “structure,” leaving something as vague as “poetic associations” to amateurs? And haven’t …
Two PoemsWhen Christo had wrapped the Three Tenors on the balcony of La Scala the civilized world fell unnaturally silent Falsetto supplications barely audible through the sackcloth were registered in horror and glee by opera lovers attending the spectacle but where that desperate …
On Isaiah Berlin (1909 – 1997)Michael Ignatieff He was born in the twilight of imperial Russia and he was buried on a grey Friday morning at the end of the century in the Jewish section of Oxford’s Wolvercote cemetery. At the age of seven, he watched the banners of the Russian Revolution waving below the …
Getting Back to Life
Alfred Brendel on Music: Collected Essays4.29 · Rating details · 41 Ratings · 1 Review
In this definitive collection of a renowned pianist's writings—some of them never before published in English—Alfred Brendel brings the clarity and originality of expression that characterize his performances to the printed page. Whether discussing Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Liszt, Schoenberg, or other pianists, his reflections will prove invaluable to serious pianIn this definitive collection of a renowned pianist's writings—some of them never before published in English—Alfred Brendel brings the clarity and originality of expression that characterize his performances to the printed page. Whether discussing Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Liszt, Schoenberg, or other pianists, his reflections will prove invaluable to serious piano players and listeners alike.
Paperback, 432 pages
Published December 1st 2000 by Chicago Review Press (first published November 2000)