Talk:Alfred Brendel

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Chopin Polonaises[edit]

Highly praised? Not according to many reviews I've seen, including some posted on Amazon. Brendel himself has admitted dissatisfaction with them (in Reflections from the Keyboard by David Dubal). The "highly praised" part needs to be attributed or it will be removed.THD3 23:37, 8 June 2007 (UTC)


Brendel is better known for recording Haydn(who doesn't get a mention for some reason). He eschewed the Mozart sonatas until very recently when he made the declaration that he had underestimated them for many years. So it is hard to see how he can be an acclaimed interpreter of those works. BD

Well put, BD. Brendel is one of the greatest interpreters ever of the sonatas of Beethoven and Haydn, while for Schubert he is in a class of his own. No one else comes close for Schubert. However, I agree he's not much of a Mozart pianist relative to the composers listed above, and compared with other Mozart greats like Rubinstein and Perahia. RSZ

I believe his mozart interpretation is great. I am not talking just about the sonatas. His recordigs of Mozart's piano concertos )are the best I have listened to, better than Perahia, Serkin, Anda, etc. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:28, 9 August 2009 (UTC)

I know he's sometimes accused of being dry and pedantic but that opinion seems wildly misguided to me. It's like saying Jeff Beck or Mark Knopfler are pedantic and lifeless guitar players! His Beethoven and Schubert recordings are astounding and anything but safey or bloodless - give his recordings of Beethoven's final sonatas a listen, they are mesmerizing and, best of all, they manage to sound as if this extremely difficult music was born in the moment of playing, rushing forth in a stream of subtle syncopations, drifts and melodies that coalesce, minute for minute, into aural structures. /Strausszek (talk) 18:22, 1 August 2009 (UTC)
Please remember, this discussion page is for the purpose of finding ways to improve the article, not for discussing the merits of the article's subject. There are fine discussion boards at if you want to do that.THD3 (talk) 13:44, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
Obviously subjective assessments need sourcing. However, turning to objective data, Brendel certainly started with Mozart as a significant part of his recorded repertoire. In the 35 disc Brilliant Classics set of his complete recordings prior to his joining a major label, 18 are Beethoven (his cycle with Vox as mentioned in the article), a third of the rest are WAM (6 discs less one Haydn concerto). The works being PCs 9&14 (Vanguard), 7, 19, 20, 22, 25, 27 (Vox) plus sonata K310, Fantasy K 396, Rondo K511, Variations K573 (Vanguard), and Quintet for piano and winds K452, and (with Walter Klein) the following works for 2 pianos: Concerto K365, Sonata K448, Fugue K426. So over the decade 1959-68, two companies thought it worth repeatedly asking him to record Mozart. The Beethoven cycle covers much the same period, as do the three discs of Schubert. The 5 discs of Liszt include material that pre- and post-dates the Mozart.--Peter cohen (talk) 10:09, 5 September 2009 (UTC)

Performing outside Austria[edit]

We say he didn't perform much outside Austria until the 1970s. That's interesting, because I know for a fact he toured Australia at least twice during the 1960s; I went to one of his concerts in Queensland around 1965/66 and I can still remember that he played some obscure dirges by Bartók, among other things I don't remember now. He came back various times after that. Australia was a little off the beaten track for European musicians back in the mid 60s, but he was certainly promoted as a major figure even back then. -- JackofOz (talk) 16:09, 5 September 2009 (UTC)

Brendel vs. Richter[edit]

I think that if Brendel said on interview that:

  • The late Sviatoslav Richter is "nothing" in the world of the piano
  • that he (Brendel) every time when hear Richter on the radio switch the radio off

such a person (Brendel) really does not deserve much attention. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:22, 7 May 2010 (UTC)

Whatever the merits of Richter vs. Brendel,, this page is for discussing improvements to the article, not the merits of the subject.THD3 (talk) 12:14, 7 May 2010 (UTC)

Odd opening to this entry[edit]

"He is also a poet and author of the surreal."

Author of the surreal? What does that mean? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:16, 29 April 2011 (UTC)

I wondered that also. Removed. Derekbd (talk) 20:59, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

Good. Pianist, poet, and author works for me - since Brendel has also written about music, no need for the surreal bit.THD3 (talk) 00:27, 6 May 2011 (UTC)

Awards, should we add Hon Doc?[edit]

Tomorrow (15 October 2011) he's going to receive an honorary doctorate from McGill University in Montreal. (I know because I'm a student there, but if you want a web source, Should that be added to his awards? Apparently he also has honorary doctorates from Yale and Oxford ( so shouldn't those be mentioned in his awards too? (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 23:21, 14 October 2011 (UTC).


Born in Moravia in the Czech Republic, raised in Yugoslavia (Croatia), living in the UK: why is Brendel called an Austrian? ~~ — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rbakels (talkcontribs) 21:22, 31 August 2013 (UTC)

  • As the article says, Brendel moved to Graz, Austria, when he was still a boy. So, he wasn't exactly raised in Yugoslavia. Besides, I think his family's language was German. I guess these are probably the reasons for his being considered Austrian. But I could be wrong. MUSIKVEREIN (talk) 16:11, 1 September 2013 (UTC)

Joseph Brodsky[edit]

No mention of Brodsky ? (talk) 22:21, 25 May 2014 (UTC)

Source for "One of the greatest pianists of all time"[edit]

The source for this phrase at the beginning of the article is erroneous. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:51, 28 August 2014 (UTC)

Just to remind us what's been removed: "He is widely considered to be one of the greatest pianists of all time.[1] Martinevans123 (talk) 08:15, 28 August 2014 (UTC)

This assertion is simply ignorant. See [2]. The fact that a general circulation broadcaster's publication has such a claim, with random interviews from various pianists, does not make it noteworthy in the context of an encyclopedia article about Brendel. The author of that article doesn't seem to have any particular credentials even to select the respondents for his article. Brendel is greater than Liszt, Beethoven, Chopin, Busoni, Hoffmann, Lhevinne, Godowsky, Backhaus, Rosenthal, Serkin, Bolet, and all the others revealed by a quick googling? Not verified. Don't EW. SPECIFICO talk 20:53, 24 March 2016 (UTC)

Thanks for the Google page. He features at No. 8 here, but I'm not sure how notable Interlude is. But Beethoven seems a strange candidate. Martinevans123 (talk) 21:03, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
Beethoven was acknowledged during his lifetime and ever since to be one of the gratest pianists ever. See any of the biographies of him. That #8 is the same article. It's not RS for this extraordinary assertion. SPECIFICO talk 14:46, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
Are we discussing "greatest pianists ever" or "greatest pianists in their own lifetime"? To whom was Beethoven compared? Perhaps we need to find more reliable and suitably modern source(s) for this claim? Incidentally, the article for Ludwig van Beethoven says simply, in the lede, that he "gained a reputation as a virtuoso pianist". But this claim, as far as I can see, is not repeated in the article main body and is unsupported by any source. So you may want to make some additions or changes over there? Martinevans123 (talk) 15:20, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
No interest in that article for the time being. Anyway a widely known fact is not in urgent need of a citation. But in the current article, we should not sustain promotional, undue, and improperly sourced extraordinary claim about Mr. Brendel. The author of that article has no particular expertise and to repeat he has polled an apparently random and limited number of pianists for the article. SPECIFICO talk 15:47, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
What do you make of this? Martinevans123 (talk) 15:51, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
Please be more specific and relate your question to the topic at hand. Thanks. SPECIFICO talk 15:54, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
Do you think that Philips Classics Records are having a little joke with us by issuing three volumes of CDs dedicated to Brendel in a series entitled "Great Pianists of the 20th Century"? Surely this suggests that he may well be among the "greatest pianists of all time"? And what do you make of the claim in the body of this article that reports the "2012 survey of pianists by the magazine Limelight" that ranked him as the 8th greatest pianist of all time? Are you suggesting all the pianists surveyed were deluded? Martinevans123 (talk) 16:01, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
I'm not going to respond to your straw-man query. Please review what I've said. If you read the article on that Philips album you'll see that the critical reception to his playing was quite tepid. Mr. Brendel is one of the most noted living pianists. He's had an extraordinary concert career. There's no RS that rates him one of the 10 great pianists of all time. SPECIFICO talk 16:07, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
Please explain how a fully sourced claim, from a reputable specialist publication, already placed in this article, is a "straw-man query"? Thanks. And where did "top 10" suddenly appear from? This source puts him in the "top 25". The "g-word" is also used here. Martinevans123 (talk) 16:11, 26 March 2016 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Your raising the title of a CD as if it verified an extraordinary claim about Brendel is the straw man. You continue to ignore my text above. The publication, the author, and the limited random selection of those polled does not constitute RS for this claim. I suggest you review the WP:BLP WP:V and WP:RS policies and then consider my comments in this thread. Thanks. SPECIFICO talk 16:39, 26 March 2016 (UTC)

I have ignored nothing. I suggest you stop trying to read my mind. You say "limited random selection of those polled" - so how many and who was that? Thanks. Martinevans123 (talk) 16:45, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
Please read the policies I cited above. As WP editors we must read the sources, cite them accurately, faithfully represent only what the sources actually say, and no more than what they say. The only good source in that section of the article is Peter Donohoe's piece on 50 great, not greatest. Donohoe is a concert pianist himself and is the only one among those who is qualified to make such judgments. Note that he declines to state "greatest" superlatives. Of course his list -- a broadcaster's list -- is confined to those for whom high quality broadcast recordings are readily available. SPECIFICO talk 16:53, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
Please stop telling me what to do. I've read each of those policies many times over in the last 8 years, thanks. The sources in the "Awards and accolades" section are self-explanatory and do not pretend to be over-aching or the final word in comparison of skill or ability. Brendel appeals to the popular listener as well as to the fellow concert pianist. Popular references will be understood and meaningful. This article is written for the general public, not for a musical elite. Martinevans123 (talk) 17:00, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
We are all bound to follow WP policies. The test for RS is not "elite" but rather competence commensurate to support the statement in the article. WP is not for "popular opinion" If you wish to research a source that states the (self-evident) fact that Mr. Brendel has a wide concert audience, feel free to do so, but the superlatives are WP:UNDUE. I forgot to link that one above. I am going to edit the article now to conform with the policies I've cited. SPECIFICO talk 17:21, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
You're saying that Limelight and Classic FM can't be used for sources here, as they are incompetent. I'm not sure why anyone should need to research a source for "(self-evident) facts"? Notwithstanding your disinterest in his Wikipedia article, I'd welcome your source(s) that Beethoven is today regarded as one of the world's greatest pianists. Martinevans123 (talk) 18:44, 26 March 2016 (UTC)


  1. ^ Francis Merson, [1], "Classical Music", 5 July 2012.

Edwin Fischer[edit]

Brendel in print and in broadcasts paid a more generous tribute to Edwin Fischer than this entry suggests, though his playing isn't very obviously influenced by Fischer. If the artists had been mentioned in the Desert Island Discs list, it would almost certainly be found that the Bach F minor concerto movement was in Fischer's recording. (talk) 17:46, 11 January 2016 (UTC)

"Greatest of all time" lists[edit]

This is an extraordinary claim, and like most of this article, it is weakly sourced. The citations for the rankings are both WP:PRIMARY sources and are not RS for such an extraordinary claim. We need a secondary RS that points to those rankings as being significant or noteworthy. I am disappointed to see that text repeatedly reinserted. The WP:BURDEN is on an editor who wishes to include article text, and that bit fails verification by any authoritative secondary RS reference. See also discussion above on this page and see also this list to see how vast is the field and how extraordinary is the claim that Brendel is one of the top pianists "of all time." SPECIFICO talk 00:17, 22 September 2016 (UTC)

The sources are not primary – Brendel didn't say that, Limelight, Classic FM, and the BBC did. Obviously, the sources supporting those claims are reputable and don't fail verification. WP:RS works both ways: we need sources to support a claim, but when sources make claims, they ought to be included here. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 08:59, 22 September 2016 (UTC)
I agree with Michael Bednarek; these statements are attributed and unequivocably cited, and from reliable and notable sources. There's no stricture in reporting accolades from prominent sources when each accolade is attributed and cited directly to the source. Softlavender (talk) 10:53, 22 September 2016 (UTC)
@Michael Bednarek: @Softlavender: Wikipedia is not a collection of facts. We represent RS statements according to how fully they're represented in the mainstream. Just because we find a publication that says XYZ does not mean that we include that statement in the article. It is not the mainstream view, reported worldwide, that Brendel is of that rank. If it were, we'd find numerous other sources from notable authorities of recognized expertise making that claim. Even within this article we have Harold Schonberg, arguably the most respected postwar 20th Century authority on the history of pianism and pianists, calling Brendel 'pedantic'. Schonberg and Steinberg may be cited as acknowledged authorities as to their opinions. Polls unscientifically conducted by undistinguished periodicals or websites do not qualify as authorities. Please review WP:UNDUE. SPECIFICO talk 12:02, 22 September 2016 (UTC)
Shucks, I thought it was mainly a collection of facts. Brendel being "one of the greatest" can never be a fact, of course, it's just an opinion, albeit perhaps an expert one. But am eagerly awaiting your addition to Harold Schonberg, which currently says just that he was "an extremely influential music writer"? Martinevans123 (talk) 12:25, 22 September 2016 (UTC)
SPECIFICO, even the Ranker link that you posted here has Brendel at #33 of all time. #8, #25, and one of 50 are within that average range (the average of 8, 25, and 50 is 28), so nothing out of the ordinary is being quoted here, and it's all unimpeachably cited. If we were to say/cite that Podunk Daily News readers voted Brendel #1 greatest pianist that ever lived, now that would be a problem. But what is quoted and cited in this article is not a problem at all, and is perfectly normal for Wikipedia. This seems to be a case of WP:IDONTLIKEIT on your part. Softlavender (talk) 12:59, 22 September 2016 (UTC)
The Ranker thing is also not RS for an encyclopedia, but it does provide a list that demonstrates how many recognized great pianists there have been and therefore how tenuous it is to assert that Brendel, undeniably a great pianist, is among the top 10 of all time. SPECIFICO talk 13:07, 22 September 2016 (UTC)
Wikipedia is not asserting that "Brendel is among the top 10 of all time". Moreover, Limelight, Classic FM presenters, and BBC Radio 3/Peter Donohoe are not "undistinguished periodicals or websites". Wikipedia is giving a variety of rankings from prominent sources, which average ranking is certainly in keeping with overall perception, as your Ranker link shows. Softlavender (talk) 13:13, 22 September 2016 (UTC)
The point is that these lists, while perhaps amusing for magazine or website articles, are not authoritative. Why not look for references to some objective and more noteworthy information, for example Brendel is possibly among the most prolific classical recording artists and there may be some RS discussion of the sales or distribution of his recordings, the extent of his concertizing, or other more appropriate measures. "Top ten" -- as if he were a pole vaulter or a mountain, is not appropriate to his life or career. SPECIFICO talk 14:14, 22 September 2016 (UTC)
I realise that folks across the pond may never listen to BBC Radio 3, but you're claiming that Peter Donohoe is just "perhaps amusing"? Martinevans123 (talk) 14:53, 22 September 2016 (UTC)
That‘s a straw man, not what I said. Please respond to my statements and citations of WP policy. SPECIFICO talk 15:23, 22 September 2016 (UTC)
Could you just clarify that you're perfectly happy for the reference to Donohoe's "Fifty Great Pianists" series to remain? Thanks. Martinevans123 (talk) 15:41, 22 September 2016 (UTC)
That has not been disputed here - another straw man. It's is the stuff that precedes it that is UNDUE. Please delete the text that precedes the Donohoe bit. SPECIFICO talk 15:51, 22 September 2016 (UTC)
No, that wasn't one of your quaint "straw men", it was a simple question. But I won't be deleting any of that, as I think it's relevant and well-sourced. Thanks. Martinevans123 (talk) 15:57, 22 September 2016 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I'm asking you again please to cease deflecting and instead to respond to the substance and policy stated above. Alternatively, I'll post in the appropriate venue. SPECIFICO talk 16:10, 22 September 2016 (UTC)

I don't really see a strong consensus forming here in support of your view, do you? I'm not "deflecting" anything, I'm discussing. And I'm really not sure what you mean by "I'll post in the appropriate venue". This is the appropriate venue for discussing article content, as per WP:BRD. Thanks. Martinevans123 (talk) 16:16, 22 September 2016 (UTC)
Specifico, we're not saying Brendel was a pole vaulter or a mountain or a "top ten". We are listing noteworthy reliable-source accolades in the "Awards and accolades" section of the article. There seems to be broad consensus to retain this. If you would like to add reliably sourced information to the other sections of the article, feel free. Softlavender (talk) 23:49, 24 September 2016 (UTC)

Desert Island Discs[edit]

No offence to the editors who took the time to research, add, and link this material, but it is not biographical material, and it takes up 20% of his Biography (which is a complete and total violation of WP:UNDUE). I would say, why is it even in this article? I don't recall any other Wikipedia article containing details of someone's DID choices. It might be better as a possible External Link, in my view. At the very least, all of the performers and conductors need to go, unless perhaps they are keyboardists. In my view, the whole thing should go, and become an External Link; since DID always has interesting biographical revelations, it's good for that, and there is currently a paucity of ELs anyway. In any case, these days everyone and his brother are or have been on DID, so it's not noteworthy and should not be in the text of the article, in my opinion. Softlavender (talk) 08:59, 12 February 2017 (UTC)

Update: I went ahead and moved it to External Links. Softlavender (talk) 09:25, 12 February 2017 (UTC)

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