Alfred Brendel’s 85th birthday has been well covered by the media. Here’s some background information from Deutsche Welle.
It’s been seven years since Alfred Brendel ended his concert career. “Sixty years of playing in public seemed sufficient,” he remarked then with a wry touch. Shortly afterward, he suffered an acute hearing loss and has since then only been able to hear distorted tones. He’s stopped practicing.
The worst imaginable fate for a musical professional? Brendel, who looks 15 or 20 years younger than he is, doesn’t wear his heart on his sleeve. “The appearance is deceiving, but it could be worse,” he says with a twinkle in his eye and a hint of a smile. “I get the impression that I could die now – but then, things keep coming up,” he adds in a birthday portrait on German television broadcaster ZDF.
Interviews with Alfred Brendel have grown rare, but that’s not to say he’s gone into retreat. In December 2015 he was in Bonn, Germany, for the International Telekom Beethoven Competition to give a lecture titled “A Pianist’s A to Z.” His observations on the world of music and musicians were glass-clear, fun, broad-based, and filled to the brim with anecdotes and a lifetime of experience. And it was evident: Even with a lectern and not a piano as a prop, Brendel has retained every ounce of his stage presence.
And Universal has issued a retrospective set of his recordings.
Alfred Brendel is the focus of a colossal 114-CD set, ‘Alfred Brendel. The Complete Philips Recordings’. It gathers together his entire recorded legacy for the label from the late 1960s until his Farewell Concert in 2008. It includes two complete cycle of the Beethoven piano sonatas, three of the Beethoven piano concertos, the complete Mozart piano concertos as well as major surveys of music by Haydn. Mozart, Schubert, Liszt, Brahms and Schumann.
Alfred Brendel was presented with an early copy of the limited edition set (which retails for about £180) by members of the Universal team: Paul Moseley, Managing Director, Decca Classics; Costa Pilavachi, Senior VP Artists and Repertoire Universal Global Classics and Barry Holden, VP Catalogue, Universal Global Classics.