Legendary pianist Alfred Brendel to visit Prague

Alfred Brendel, photo: Jiyang Chen, Wikimedia CC BY-SA 3.0

The legendary pianist Alfred Brendel will come to Prague this weekend to take part in a three-day festival organised in his honour. The Czech-born musician, considered to be one of the world’s greatest living pianists, will present his books, give a master class and lecture on the art of playing Mozart. The event gets underway at Prague’s Rudolfinum concert hall on Sunday.

Alfred Brendel, photo: Jiyang Chen, Wikimedia CC BY-SA 3.0
Alfred Brendel was born in 1931 in the town of Loučná nad Desnou in former Czechoslovakia and started his career seventeen years later in Graz. One of the most prolific recording artists of all time, Mr Brendel has received many major music awards.

He is only the third pianist in history to be named an honorary member of the Vienna Philharmonic and was also appointed an honorary Knight Commander of the British Empire for Outstanding Services to Music in Britain, where he has lived since 1972.

Marek Šulc is one of the organizers of the event:

“I think Alfred Brendel is a living legend. He is now 88 years old. He no longer performs,but his interpretation was really legendary. For example he was the first pianist to record the complete piano music of Ludwig van Beethoven.

“He was also largely responsible for bringing out Schubert’s piano sonatas and Schönberg’s piano concerto and he also recorded all 27 Mozart’s piano concertos. He worked with the greatest orchestras and legendary conductors.”

After being in the spotlight for nearly 60 years, Alfred Brendel bid farewell to the concert stage in 2008, but remains active in many other fields, giving lectures and pursuing his literary career.

Mr Brendel will launch the festival on Sunday with a public lecture on the art of Mozart interpretation, entitled On Playing Mozart, followed by a launch of his books, Complete Edition of Poetry and Pianist’s Alphabet. After the official programme, visitors will also have a unique chance to meet the legendary pianist in person.

Alfred Brendel will also lead a masterclass with the Czech ensemble Trio Incendio and will attend a concert of the ensemble Quatuor Diotima from Paris, who are coming to Prague specially at his invitation to perform the music of Béla Bartók.

Another highlight of the three-day event will be the Czech premiere of a piece by Czech composer Miroslav Srnka, perhaps the best-known Czech contemporary composer of the present day.

Marek Šulc again:

“Miroslav Srnka is really a very famous Czech composer. Two years ago his opera South Pole premiered in Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich. He is also a very good friend of the Quatuor Diotima members and the piece Future Family was in fact commissioned by the quartet. So this is the connection. And Mr Brendel himself is a big fan of 20th century and contemporary music.”

The three-day festival in honour of Alfred Brendel is organised by Prague Music Performance Institute & Festival, in cooperation with the Czech Philharmonic.