Brendel’s final concerts

Alfred Brendel’s performance at the Athens Concert Hall tonight is of particular importance. For as the talented pianist recently announced, he will stop giving concerts next year. His final concert will take place in Vienna on December 18, 2008, where he will perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 9 («Jeunehomme»), accompanied by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Brendel will not retire altogether. A well-known writer – he has written poetry and prose about music, especially piano music, available in Greek from Nefeli Publications – the 77-year-old will continue to give lectures about music and recite poetry given that he is still in a very good shape. Born in what was then Czechoslovakia in 1931, Brendel found himself in Zagreb during WWII, along with his family. At the age of 14 he had to dig trenches and as a result suffered frostbite. As he came from a family that had no connection to music, he took only a few piano lessons and although he was in the class of top pianist Edwin Fischer, he actually remains self-taught. He gave his first concert at 17, with works by Bach, Brahms, Liszt and his own compositions. At 21, he had already recorded Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No 5. His approach to music reflected something deeper, a personal relationship with every composition he chose to perform. Tonight’s program will feature works by Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert and Mozart.