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LIVE from the NYPL: ALFRED BRENDEL in conversation with Paul Holdengraber


It has often been said that Vladimir Horowitz had two topics of conversation, the piano and Horowitz.

Not so of Alfred Brendel. His capacious erudition, his delight in architecture, his love for literature and cartoons, especially Shakespeare, Edward Gorey and Gary Larson, are well known. "The philosopher king of the modern keyboard," and one of the world's greatest living pianists will reveal his love of inspired nonsense, his dadaist propensities and his passion for kitsch in a conversation with Paul Holdengräber, Director of Public Programs at the New York Public Library ("LIVE from the NYPL"). For the past decade, Brendel has been writing poetry:



Once upon a time
I was no wunderkind
Due to my obstinacy
I became one later.

Brendel's taste for absurdity, "If I had to write my autobiography, I'd make the whole thing up;" his bewilderment at his own success, "the fact that I managed to acquire some esteem fills me with amused and slightly incredulous pleasure;" and, of course, his love for music will be explored during an evening of music and miscellany.

About Alfred Brendel

Alfred Brendel, who celebrates his 75th birthday during January 2006, is among the greatest musicians of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Renowned for his masterly interpretations of the works of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms and Liszt, he is one of the indisputable authorities in musical life today and one of the very few living pianists whose name alone guarantees a sell-out anywhere in the world he chooses to play.

Yet Brendel had a most untypical start compared to most of his peers. He was not a child prodigy, his parents were not musicians, there was no music in the house and, as he admits himself, he is neither a good sight—reader nor blessed with a phenomenal memory. "A teacher can be too influential," he feels. "Being self-taught, I learned to distrust anything I hadn't figured out myself." More valuable than teachers was listening to other pianists, conductors and singers?and himself. Brendel learned by recording the piece he was studying, listening to himself and reacting to it. "I still think that for young people today this is a very good way to get on," he says, "and it makes some of the functions of a teacher obsolete."

During the 1960s Brendel created history when he was the first pianist to record all of Beethoven's piano works and his reputation as one of the finest Beethoven interpreters was established. Alfred Brendel's most recent recording activities have focussed on Mozart and he has revisited a number of the Piano Concertos and made new recordings with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and one of the greatest Mozart conductors of today, Sir Charles Mackerras.

About Paul Holdengräber

Paul Holdengräber is the Director of Public Programs - newly minted and now known as "LIVE from the NYPL" - for The Research Libraries of The New York Public Library. At the NYPL his stated goal is to make the lions roar.