Alfred Brendel on a life in music: ‘Impatience was not a vice’

Source: Alfred Brendel on a life in music: ‘Impatience was not a vice’

The great pianist at 85, looking back on ‘playing, writing, living, loving’ and wondering how he managed to fit so much in

Where, and how, does a musician’s calling reveal itself? It can be stimulated by artistic activity and aesthetic leanings in the family, by the early opportunity to listen to concerts and opera, by being exposed to recordings and YouTube. In my case, there was nothing of that sort. Nor was there an intellectual background. Without an academic piano teacher after my 16th year, I became used to finding out things for myself. It helped me to keep my mind as independent as possible.

My first recital at the age of 17 provided a clear signal: courteously received, it made my pessimistic mother give in. Of course it wouldn’t be the solid future of a bourgeois academic – the risk was incalculable. Yet I was allowed to take it. For a couple of years, I had already dabbled in as many artistic endeavours as I could find – writing sonnets that sounded profound and meant nothing, studying composition, as well as drawing or painting myself, my friends, or whatever came to mind.

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