Page last updated at 18:04 GMT, Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Pianist Brendel to take final bow

Alfred Brendel
Brendel will give his final performances on Wednesday and Thursday

Alfred Brendel, one of the world's greatest pianists, is giving his final public performances this week.

Brendel, 77, will take his final bow at the famous Golden Auditorium in the Musikverein, in Vienna, Austria, after 60 years on the concert stage.

He will perform Mozart's ninth piano concerto, K.271 in E-flat major - the Jenamy - with the Vienna Philharmonic later and on Thursday.

Brendel has described the piece as "one of the greatest wonders of the world".


Brendel was born in 5 January 1931 at Wiesenberg, northern Moravia - now the Czech Republic - and began studying the piano aged six.

He later studied the piano, composition and conducting in Zagreb and Graz, completing his piano studies with Edwin Fischer, Paul Baumgartner and Edward Steuermann.

Brendel cited his first musical memory as "winding up a gramophone playing opera records, and trying to sing along to it".

He gave his first public recital aged 17 and started touring after winning fourth place in the Busoni Competition in Italy in 1949. He began recording in the 1950s.

His repertoire has ranged from Bach to Schoenberg, but his main focus has been on Beethoven, Schubert and Mozart.

Brendel has been based in London since 1971.

Here is a selection of your comments:

I remember seeing Brendel playing a recital at Haberdashers Aske school when I was very young. I was more into pop music at the time and had abandoned the piano in favour of a guitar. Listening to Brendel play persuaded me to look at the piano again. Although I have never become a pianist, and compose for a living using the hefty help of a computer, the piano is now my favourite instrument, and I can spend countless happy hours at the keys playing as badly as Alfred Brendel plays brilliantly!
Joss, UK

I watched and listened to Alfred Brendel at Birmingham's Symphony Hall, earlier this year. Quite simply, Brendel is one of the most sublime pianists of our time. His music has intelligence, wit, control, dexterity and most importantly; love. I marvel at how he makes the music come alive, his playing makes me feel as though I completely understand a piece, without having to analyse it. I hope he will keep recording!
Alexander Ward, Stafford, Staffordshire

I remember in 1975 at the age of 16 I found myself, to have been absorbed in the music I was listening to on the radio for a longer time than usual, the announcement at the end was that we have been listening to the impromptus opus 142 by Frantz Shubert played by Alfred Brendel and that started off a life long passion of classical for me music for me.
Ole Rahbek, London, England

I first heard Alfred Brendel in 1978/79. He played Beethoven's 4th piano concerto at the Royal Albert Hall in London. It completely blew me away and even after all these years I still remember it. In recent years I've been fortunate to hear many of his fine performances in Reading. There is nobody else who plays as well as he does.
Gina, Perth, Western Australia

I have heard him many times though 40 years of concert-going. He is one of the greatest of the present lot, but on stage he comes across as aloof, arrogant even. I once saw him stare at the audience for seconds as someone coughed as though saying "how dare you?'.
ctan, Malaysia

I had the honor of hearing Alfred Brendel's final piano recital in the United States, at Strathmore Hall in Maryland. It was an experience that will live in my memory for many years. The clarity of his playing, and the ability he has to reveal the structure of the music was remarkable. He did this throughout without resorting to unnecessary drama or emotion. Rather his performance allowed the music to take center stage rather than the performer. For that quality I shall always be grateful.
Michela Caudill, Baltimore, Maryland

I shall always remember an exceptional week during the summer of 1977 when Alfred Brendel offered an understated, yet majestic traversal of all five Beethoven piano concertos. The concerts were performed during a sweltering heat wave, yet Brendel never wavered from his sense of interpretive certainty. Despite evening temperatures around 35 C, the master lent a sense of developmental continuity as he moved from the airy classicism of the B Flat Concerto (the earliest to be composed) to the heroic grandeur of the "Emperor." More than three decades later that week remains one of my most precious musical memories.
Robert Read, Los angeles, California U.S.A.

I'm in Vienna but unfortunately it has not been possible to obtain a ticket, even though I have been trying since July! The best live performance I've ever heard was Brendel playing Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven in Vancouver. His playing is the antithesis of the shallow, Vegas-style playing one often hears from the 20-something 'superstars' currently storming the concert circuit.
John Dupuis, Vancouver, Canada

About a decade ago I had the immense pleasure of seeing and hearing Mr Brendel perform all of the Beethoven piano sonatas in a series of concerts spanning two or three years. His presence on stage was magical.
Hugh Black, London, Canada

My partner and I met in 1972. One of the earliest memories we share is listening to Alfred Brendel playing Mozart on the 8-track tape player in my van. He is very special to us.
Catherine Bremer, San Francisco, CA, USA

My wife and I were listening Alfred Brendel first time in Moscow in 1990, in the midst of the turbulent and politically pivotal years. He played in one of the best Moscow Halls and we were lucky to get a pair of "not-so-great" seats. Still, the performance was astonishing and unforgettable. We so much enjoy Brendel's brilliance of sound, deepness of interpretation and his exquisite technique.
Alexei Belenki , Washington, D.C.

Brendel's Beethoven allows you to be present at the act in which the work is first created.
Julian Young, Auckland New Zealand

For me his performances and recordings are among the best in the world. He brings a satisfying mixture of restrained intelligence and a sort of newness and curiosity to the compositions, almost as if they are coming to life in the moment. His interpretation of the works of Beethoven and Schubert are particularly impressive and important. I'm sad to see him leaving the stage but happy that he is controlling his exit from it in the same manner which he conducted his career from the start.
Mark S Maluso, New York, NY

It was 1983 or 84 in Glasgow, Scotland. Mr Brendel, on a rainy evening, showed me the depth and beauty of classical music. I grew up in a working class neighbourhood in 60's/70's of Hong Kong and until that evening had never felt the urge of civility and culture at that level. Soon after, my bank saving was kept down with regular visit to the concert hall - Edinburgh, London, Toronto. Listening to his music always brings back the memory of cultured life in Glasgow, Scotland and Cambridge, England.
Uri Law, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

In 1974 I was a stagehand working at O'Shaughnessy Auditorium in St Paul, Minnesota. I arrived late afternoon for a concert with Mr Brendel and saw a very serious bespectacled gentleman in shirtsleeves laboring over the Steinway Concert Grand. This was not unusual. The tuner was always called in advance of such events, although I did not recognize this one. He not only tuned the instrument, but spent quite some time shaving some of the hammers until they struck with the precision and action he required. He then sat before the instrument and ran the keyboard in a manner I had rarely heard among our usual tuners. When the concert began later that evening, I realized, of course, that the new tuner was in fact Mr Brendel himself. The concert was amazing and the Steinway never sounded better for a few months after.
John Finnegan, St Paul, MN USA

When I was young playing double bass in the Chicago Civic Orchestra, I once heard an incredible pianist rehearsing backstage. To my pleasant surprise it was Alfred Brendel. Being a great fan, especially of his Beethoven performances, I went to ask for his autograph. After signing his first autograph, he promptly ripped it up and said "That will not do", and signed again. I trust this same perfectionism was present in everything he did, as it is in his music.
Andrew Roberts, Wakefield, QC Canada

I saw Mr Brendel perform at the Concert Hall in Reading earlier this year in what was one of his final performances in the UK. It was one of the best recitals I have ever attended - spellbinding and magical.
Dan Harris, Reading, UK

We had the pleasure of hearing him play at the Chicago Symphony Hall in 2006-2007. Wonderful!
Mona, Chicago, USA

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