On 5 January 2021, Alfred Brendel, the world-renowned Austrian-British pianist, celebrates his 90th birthday. To mark the occasion, Supraphon has come up with a special present, which will delight all the fans of the great classical music figure’s work. The label is releasing a DVD titled Alfred Brendel – My Musical Life, featuring documentary footage of the lectures and the masterclass Brendel gave in 2019 and 2020 during his visit to Prague upon the invitation of the Prague Music Performance and the Czech Philharmonic.
When, in December 2008, six decades into his illustrious career, Alfred Brendel bade farewell to an emotional Viennese audience, it was not a “full stop”, as it may have appeared at that moment. Rather a “semicolon”. With more time on his hands, the celebrated pianist went on to focus on other activities – writing essays on music and poetry, giving lectures, leading masterclasses. As he himself said with a smile: “As a pianist who writes, I’ve been called a ‘wild philosopher at the piano‘, while in America they’ve even classified me as an intellectual. That’s what one gets for publishing books, wearing glasses, and not playing Rachmaninoff,” adding: “I see my essays as, above all, the result of self-doubt, something no performer should do without, as a tool of self-criticism and an attempt at helping oneself.”
Beethoven, Mozart and Schubert are the figures he, as a pianist, treasures most. The DVD featuring the autobiographical lecture My Musical Life provides the viewer with a glimpse of the universe full of paradox that gave rise to the legend called Brendel – unveiling the sources of his inspiration, education and artistry, that which formed his vision of the world.
In January 2021, Alfred Brendel enters his nineties, possessing profound knowledge and experience, as well as a great zest for learning new things. And also a sense of humour, which he has often turned against himself. Precious few pianists have influenced the perception and performance of music as much as Brendel has. He was the first to have recorded the complete Beethoven piano works, he succeeded in bringing Franz Schubert’s music back to the concert stage. Of late, Brendel has often visited Prague to give lectures and masterclasses at the Rudolfinum, highlights of which are captured on the present DVD, now released for global distribution by Supraphon.
The documentaries that make up the DVD Alfred Brendel – My Musical Life, were directed by Jakub Kořínek and Jordan Dimov. The video postproduction was entrusted to Jakub Mayer, and in the music parts Alfred Brendel worked with the pianist Jan Bartoš and Trio Incendio.