Alfred Brendel: Pianist and Poet

During a recent lecture Alfred Brendel said, “Only in contradiction does the world seem to become a little less absurd” and “the only crowd I’m not wary of is the public of concerts.” His right hand played the table top as he listened to a recorded excerpt of Mozart. Afterwards he sat in conversation with pianist Nino Gvetadze.

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Alfred Brendel is celebrated the world over as one of the finest living pianists. He is also a poet. When asked by Richard Stokes to choose his favourite from among his own collected poems he read the one ending with “the most sophisticated way of speaking softly is silence.”


Poet laureate Andrew Motion has a poem about Brendel in his latest collection (Public Property, Faber) and says that ‘in their black comedy and their surreality his poems very obviously belong in a tradition of middle-European poetry…You can read it alongside Holub, and what he brings to this tradition, and re-kindles, is the whole new subject area of music.‘” —Nicholas Wroe