“I want to make music. This means, that I prefer Steinway.”
Alfred Brendel is the preeminent thinking pianist, a loner to whom fame came through the power of imaginative integrity, an artist who has achieved — at his best — a divinatory rapport with piano literature from Bach to Schoenberg. Yet by his account, "I did not come from a musical or intellectual family…I have not been a child prodigy. I do not have a photographic memory; neither do I play faster than other people. I am not a good sight-reader." Born in Wiesenberg, Moravia — in the latter-day Czech Republic — in 1931, he received piano lessons from ages 6 to 16 and studied composition privately while supporting himself in a variety of odd jobs.
Brendel was among the first generation to learn from recordings, the legacies of Cortot, Kempff, Schnabel, Furtwängler, and Toscanini proving especially valuable. “Furtwängler conveyed…this sensation of music not being played, but rather happening by itself." Armed with such ideals, Brendel embarked upon an international recital and recording career which, in the 1960s, saw his reputation grow throughout Europe and North America as he became a frequent guest with the world's greatest orchestras, touring and recording not only the Classical masters — Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Schumann — but also Liszt, Mussorgsky, Stravinsky, Bartók, and Schoenberg, and garnering numerous awards since.