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Copyright © 20 May 2004 Tess Crebbin, Germany


Alfred Brendel talks ...

... about his early training

When I was ten years old, my piano teacher had the wonderful idea to send me to our cathedral organist for harmony instruction. I am very grateful to him because as an introduction to harmony he made me play all the cadences in all imaginable forms. That became my foundation for transposition.

... about his first encounter with the music of Schoenberg

When I was in my twenties, young Michael Gielen, who was then living in Vienna, told me that it would be a good idea for me to learn the piano concerto by Arnold Schoenberg. For one week I did, cursing all the way, until I finally saw light at the end of the tunnel for the first time. I had never previously played even one Schoenberg note. That became a good foundation for later on. I then went on to play his piano works op 19 and op 11.

... about Busoni

In 1949 I went to the Busoni competition in Bozano and this was why I first began to study Busoni. I also played his transcription of Bach's Prelude and Fugue for organ in D Major and I won one of the prizes. I was barely eighteen then. In 1854, on occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the death of Busoni, I published the essay Vollender des Klavierspiels ('Perfectionist Piano Playing'). Luckily, now things have become better as far as Busoni receiving adequate attention. There are physical reasons for the lack of public Busoni performances: you have to have very big hands. Busoni cannot be 'arpeggioed'. You have to play the chords as they were written. If I were younger, I would now play all his elegies, not just some of them. And I would also play the second Sonatine of 1912, which I consider to be his piano masterpiece. It is one of his most daring pieces. Busoni was one of the great composers who were also great pianists. That is very rare.



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