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Tag: Alfred Brendel at King Edward’s School

Alfred Brendel and the Chief Master

Alfred Brendel at King Edward's School, Birmingham

Alfred Brendel and John Claughton, Chief Master of King Edward’s School.

John Claughton, Chief Master, said: “It was a rare privilege for all of us to welcome one of the world’s greatest musicians to the school and it was an unforgettable occasion both for those who have listened to Brendel play throughout their lives and for pupils whose musical careers are beginning. He spoke about the nature of music and art with a wisdom born of a lifetime’s dedication.

“This school has a great tradition in music, producing exceptional players through a 90-strong Symphony Orchestra, providing nearly 20 different musical groups and a choir of 150 boys. So, to hear such a man in the beautiful surroundings of the Ruddock Hall was an unforgettable moment for all of us.”

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Five-star review in the Birmingham Post

Alfred Brendel at King Edward’s School.

He may have retired from the concert platform but Alfred Brendel remains a consummately communicative performer.

On Tuesday the pianist held 500 listeners in the palm of his hand as he delivered what was the fifth Tolkien Lecture in the magnificent Ruddock Hall within King Edward VI School’s remarkable new performing arts building.

Introducing his distinguished guest, Chief Master John Claughton revealed that KES Old Boy J.R.R.Tolkien in fact came from a family of piano manufacturers – a neat link as Brendel launched into a talk derived from his own masterly book, A Pianist’s A to Z.

Speaking from a lifetime of experience, Brendel addressed so many aspects of the performer’s art – how to balance intellect and emotion, how to observe the way vocalists and conductors cultivate and phrase singing lines (in other words the importance of a “cantabile tone – playing out of the instrument’s keys, not hitting out at them), and, perhaps most strikingly, how a pianist should take composition lessons from a good teacher in order fully to appreciate considerations of structure, notation and general cohesion.

Brendel’s talk was peppered with anecdotes and jokes, often mischievous, and always tellingly pertinent. He also included recorded examples from pianists he particularly admired (“on a good day, when the wind was blowing in the right direction for them”) – Edwin Fischer in Bach, Alfred Cortot in Chopin, and offerings by Schumann and Haydn where he didn’t identify the performer; modestly, perhaps they were from himself.

And his facial expressions during the Haydn extract illustrating humour in music were almost as eloquent as had been his fingers during the many decades when his playing spoke so much to us all.

Christopher Morley
24 September, 2015

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Tomorrow: Alfred Brendel at King Edward’s School

Alfred Brendel’s Tolkien lecture is tomorrow at 1830 in the Ruddock Hall of the Ruddock Performing Arts Centre at King Edward’s School.

A final video, then, to celebrate this great man, and to whet your appetite. This is one of Mozart’s most powerful piano sonatas (his KV457), in a glorious performance:

 

 

 

 

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Alfred Brendel at King Edward’s School — three days to go

With three days to go before Alfred Brendel’s Tolkien lecture, we have a chance to explore the artistry of this fascinating man.

When he retired from the keyboard, Alfred Brendel turned to poetry. Today’s selection is his poem, ‘Cologne’:

The Coughers of Cologne
have joined forces with the Cologne Clappers
and established the Cough and Clap Society
a non-profit-making organization
whose aim it is
to guarantee each concert-goer’s right
to cough and applaud
Attempts by unfeeling artists or impresarios
to question such privileges
have led to a Coughers and Clappers initiative
Members are required to applaud
immediately after sublime codas
and cough distinctly
during expressive silences
Distinct coughing is of paramount importance
to stifle or muffle it
forbidden on pain of expulsion
Coughs of outstanding tenacity
are awarded the Coughing Rhinemaiden
a handsome if slightly baroque appendage
to be worn dangling from the neck
The C&C’s recent merger
with the New York Sneezers
and the London Whistlers
raises high hopes
for Cologne’s musical future

 

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Alfred Brendel at King Edward’s School — four days to go

With four days to go before Alfred Brendel’s Tolkien lecture, we have a chance to explore the artistry of this fascinating man.

Alfred Brendel was one of the first artists to explore fully the music of Liszt, valuing it not just for its virtuosity, but also for its musical innovation and extraordinary imaginative power.

Brendel describes Liszt as the ‘Romantic sovereign of the piano … [the] Radical precursor of modernity … the piano’s supreme artist.’

Today’s performance is of Liszt’s second piano concerto:

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Alfred Brendel at King Edward’s School — five days to go

With five days to go before Alfred Brendel’s Tolkien lecture, we have a chance to explore the artistry of this fascinating man.

Alfred Brendel’s lecture is entitled ‘A-Z, A Pianist’s Alphabet’. In 2013 he published a little book of thoughts and aphorisms of a similar title. From this, today’s selection is Alfred Brendel’s entry for ‘Silence’:

‘Silence is the basis of music. We find it before, after, in, underneath and behind the sound. Some pieces emerge out of silence or lead back into it.

But silence ought also to be the core of each concert. Remember the anagram: listen=silent.’

 

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Alfred Brendel at King Edward’s School — six days to go

With six days to go before Alfred Brendel’s Tolkien lecture, we have a chance to explore the artistry of this fascinating man.

Alfred Brendel was the first to record the complete piano works of Beethoven, and today’s selection is his mighty 1970 performance of the mightier-yet Hammerklavier (op.106).

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Alfred Brendel at King Edward’s School — one week to go

With one week to go before Alfred Brendel’s Tolkien lecture, we have a chance to explore the artistry of this fascinating man.

Today, one his most celebrated performances of a composer he did more than anyone in the twentieth century to champion, Franz Schubert. Brendel describes Schubert as ‘the most astonishing phenomenon in musical history.’

This is the first piece from Schubert’s late Klavierstücke (D946) in a recording described as ‘one of the classics of the gramophone.’

 

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Alfred Brendel at King Edward’s School

Alfred Brendel's Tolkien lecture for the Music Department of King Edward's School, Birmingham.

This year’s Tolkien lecture, the fifth in the series, is given by one of the greatest musicians of the last century, Alfred Brendel. His career as a performer lasted 60 years and involved appearances with the leading orchestras and conductors of the world. He was also the first pianist to record of all Beethoven’s piano works. His final concert appearance was with the Vienna Philharmonic in 2008 and since then he has taken to writing and delivering lectures, poetry readings, and master-classes. He has recently spoken at the Festivals of Salzburg, Verbier, in the Vienna Musikverein and Konzerthaus, and at Princeton, Yale, and Cambridge.

Mr. Brendel’s title is ‘A-Z, A Pianist’s Alphabet’.

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham