Me of All People: Alfred Brendel in Conversation with Martin Meyer

Overview

"I was not a child prodigy; indeed, I had none of the requisite qualities for making a successful career." This "shortcoming" has not prevented Alfred Brendel from becoming one of the greatest pianists of the twentieth century. His solo recitals and appearances with the leading orchestras of the world make him a regular guest in London, Paris, New York, Vienna, Berlin, Munich, and Amsterdam, and at the major European and American music festivals.In a series of dialogues with Martin Meyer, Brendel speaks about his life, the development of his
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Overview

"I was not a child prodigy; indeed, I had none of the requisite qualities for making a successful career." This "shortcoming" has not prevented Alfred Brendel from becoming one of the greatest pianists of the twentieth century. His solo recitals and appearances with the leading orchestras of the world make him a regular guest in London, Paris, New York, Vienna, Berlin, Munich, and Amsterdam, and at the major European and American music festivals.In a series of dialogues with Martin Meyer, Brendel speaks about his life, the development of his career, his music-making, his travels, his poems and essays; about his childhood in Zagreb, adolescence in Graz, and experiences as a young man in Vienna ("I was in Vienna, but I was never a 'genuine' Viennese"); about literature, painting, architecture, and kitsch. Brendel talks about the freedoms and obligations of a performer and discusses the work ofmusicians who have fascinated him—Alfred Cortot, Edwin Fischer, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Wilhelm Kempff, and Bruno Walter—and those who have irritated him, as did Glenn Gould. The conversations between Brendel and Meyer are both serious and witty. Me of All People abounds in amusing anecdotes and contains penetrating insights into the music of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Liszt, Busoni, and Schoenberg. Alfred Brendel emerges as a deep thinker, a passionate skeptic, and an emotional musician. He is a multitalented figure with an engaging sense of humor, a healthy dose of modesty, and an enormous appetite for life.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Me of All People is rather what one might expect from a talk with this pianist—it is erudite, wide-ranging and a little dry. . . . While parts of the book may be a little technical for non-musicians, the force of Brendel's intellect is a welcome change from the usual pabulum dished up in interviews with 'star' performers."—Washington Post Book World, 1/26/03

"It should go without saying that Me of All People, which summarizes much that Brendel has said elsewhere about composers, performing, and other pianists, is a compendium of observations that will entertain music lovers. It could serve as a model of how such books should be presented."—Michael Kimmelman, The New York Review of Books, Vol. L, No. 10

"This provocative book, written in his 70th year, reveals just how different Alfred Brendel was, and his, from his keyboard colleagues, in more respects than merely his unique mastery of the Central-European piano repertoire."—Michael Church, Financial Times, December 2002.

"I think you will find everything readable and stimulating."—Vroon, American Record Guide, Jan/Feb. 2003.

"Today, it is harder than ever for aspiring performers to sustain successful careers. For them, Me of All People offers much timely insight. Brendel . . . shares a lifetime of wisdom on such topics as the importance of virtuosity, the changing tastes of audiences, the relevance of critical reviews, and the challenges of recording. As a bonus, alert readers can glean valuable lessons about life."—Richard Bobo, American Music Teacher, December/January 2003/2004

The New Yorker
In A Pianist's Landscape, Carol Montparker quotes Martha Argerich as saying, "I love to play the piano, but I hate being a pianist." Alone onstage and performing from memory, a piano soloist probably has the loneliest, most nerve-racking job in music. Boris Berman's Notes From the Pianist's Bench offers an illuminating program of technical tips culminating in advice on what he calls the "technique of the soul," a method of consciously learning a series of emotional responses that reliably situate the performer inside the spirit of a piece. Drawing on Stanislavsky's theories of acting, Berman explains that "during the emotional high of an inspired performance a pianist should never cease listening to an objective inner monitor that guided him through hours of preparatory work."

One contemporary pianist famous for listening to his inner monitor is Alfred Brendel. In his recently published conversations with Martin Meyer, Me of All People, translated from the German by Richard Stokes, Brendel recalls the enviable confidence of his early career: "I went on stage, played and did not realize what fear was." The main challenge, he says, lies in balancing fidelity to the work itself with personality and spontaneity. When things go well, "one has the impression that the work is playing itself." And, according to Charles Rosen's Piano Notes, a good performance occurs not in spite of technical trials but sometimes even because of them: "There has to be a genuine love simply of the mechanics and difficulties of playing, a physical need for contact with the keyboard, a love and a need which may be connected with a love of music but are not by any means totally coincident with it."

(Leo Carey)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801440991
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2002
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 9.46 (h) x 1.03 (d)

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