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Famous Modern Pianists – Alfred Brendel Liszt

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Calendar March 25, 2018

Famous Modern Pianists – Alfred Brendel Liszt

Alfred Brendel, born January 5, 1931, is an Austrian pianist who has been dubbed one of the world’s most talented and famous players. In this piece, we’ll take a look at who he is, as well as which pieces he has written and played.

Child Genius?

Unlike many of his peers, Alfred Brendel was not a child prodigy. He was born in Czechoslovakia to a non-musical family, and even though he received piano lessons at age six, he played at a normal level for his age.

Even from there, life did not advance smoothly. At age fourteen, he was sent to dig trenches in World War Two, and it was only after his return at age sixteen that he began to pick up his music once more.

However, Brendel never returned to lessons, preferring to self-teach instead. He once said that he “didn’t trust anything he hadn’t learnt on his own”. It paid off though, and he soon became a well renowned pianist.

First Recital

At just age seventeen, Brendel gave his first recital, called “The Fugue in Piano Literature”.

Career Launch

It was in 1949, when he won fourth place in a prestigious Italian piano competition, the Ferruccio Busoni Piano Competition, that his career as a pianist truly grew.

It allowed him to tour Europe and Latin America, playing and attending masterclasses, growing both his audience and skill set.

Queen Elizabeth Hall

From there, he created recordings and continued to play, but everything progressed slowly until he accepted an offer to play at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Upon hearing his Beethoven programme, his audience largely expanded and many big label companies became interested in his talent.


Brendel is said to have one of the world’s most extensive record collections for a pianist. His first record was recorded at age 21, playing Franz Liszt’s Weihnachtsbaum. In general he is revered for his playings of Liszt, although his playings of Mozart and Beethoven are also loved worldwide.

Franz Liszt – A Great Inspiration

Franz Liszt (1811 – 1886) was a phenomenal Hungarian pianist and composer. From the age of five, he was drawn to the piano, and like a true child prodigy, was composing by the age of eight. At nine, he gave his first concert, which was so impressive that the local Hungarian elites offered to pay for his musical education.

This took Franz to Vienna, where he studied under Carl Czerny, who had been taught by Beethoven.

From there, Franz only grew as a pianist. He gave concerts in Vienna, where among attendees was the famous Beethoven, and then later Germany, after which he toured London, France and Switzerland. After those tours, his career continued to grow.


Brendel’s life centred around music, and even though he also wrote, his writings were about music too. He discussed music in novels, poetry and in articles, showing that music was not simply a passion for him, but a lifestyle.


Being able to play the piano is both a gift and a talent but anyone can master it! If you would be interested in purchasing a piano and playing it yourself, feel free to visit The Pianoforte’s showroom in Sydney or to contact us to find out more.