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Alfred Brendel

Michael Berkeley's guest is pianist Alfred Brendel. With Carmen, Beethoven and German cabaret music.

Alfred Brendel is one of the great musicians of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. He's renowned for his masterly interpretations of the works of Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, Liszt and Beethoven; in fact he was the first performer to record the complete solo piano works of Beethoven.

Alfred Brendel gave his first public recital in Graz at the age of only 17, in 1948, and went on performing around the world for more than sixty years. Since his retirement in 2008 he has relished the chance to teach young musicians, and to spend more time going to exhibitions, reading and writing; he has published six volumes of essays and two collections of his own poetry.

In Private Passions he talks to Michael Berkeley about the composers and musicians he admires, and looks back at his early life. It wasn't a musical childhood; the family had no record player, but his mother used to sing cabaret songs. And later, as a teenager, his father managed a hotel and he discovered a stack of LPs, all operettas. The War made an unforgettable impression. Alfred Brendel reveals too what drew him to live in Britain: the musical culture here, the Third Programme, the Proms, and the flourishing choral tradition. He chooses one of Gesualdo's madrigals, which for a long time was thought too difficult to sing. We also hear Liszt, Schubert, Bach, Zelenka, Beethoven, and Bizet's Carmen. At the end of the programme, he talks honestly about his recent deafness, and how it has affected his love of music. He gets no pleasure from playing the piano, he says, but still loves the violin; and he dreams of music all the time, and plays it continually in his head.

Produced by Elizabeth Burke
A Loftus production for BBC Radio 3.

Available now

35 minutes

Last on

Sun 31 Dec 2017 12:00


Music Played

  • Fredy Raymond

    Ich reiss mir eine Wimper aus

    Performer: Max Hansen.
  • Carlo Gesualdo

    Non t'amo, o voce ingrata

    Choir: Delitiæ Musicæ. Conductor: Marco Longhini.
  • Jan Dismas Zelenka

    Trio Sonata no.6 in C minor (2nd mvt: Allegro)

    Performer: Heinz Holliger. Performer: Maurice Bourgue. Performer: Klaus Thunemann.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Brandenburg Concerto No.5 (1st mvt, cadenza)

    Performer: Alfred Cortot. Orchestra: Paris Ecole Normale.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    String Quartet in A minor, Op.132 (3rd mvt: Heiliger Dankgesang)

    Ensemble: Busch Quartet.
  • Franz Schubert

    Die Junge Nonne

    Performer: Edwin Fischer. Singer: Elisabeth Schwarzkopf.
  • Franz Liszt

    Piano Concerto No.1 in E flat (2nd mvt: Quasi Adagio)

    Performer: Wilhelm Kempff. Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Anatole Fistoulari.
  • Georges Bizet

    Michaela's Aria (Carmen, Act 3)

    Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra. Conductor: Alceo Galliera. Singer: Elisabeth Schwarzkopf.


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