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Two Poems

Robert Crawford, 23 September 2010

... alone In your office. Today I’d haul my piano In medias res And play Like Géza Anda, Like Alfred Brendel, Like Frédéric Chopin, Like Claude Debussy, Like all the alphabet Of subtle pianists So impossibly When we kissed It would make us both cry. 50 Be my Harley, my girly, paunchess roadie, So I can launch my fifty-something boy band: I need you ...

How to play the piano

Nicholas Spice, 26 March 1992

Music Sounded Out 
by Alfred Brendel.
Robson, 258 pp., £16.95, September 1990, 0 86051 666 0
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Glenn Gould: A Life and Variations 
by Otto Friedrich.
Lime Tree, 441 pp., £12.99, October 1990, 9780413452313
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... variation in the intensity and tone colour separately allotted to them. Yet it was possible for Alfred Brendel to remark in 1976: ‘pianists are about to lose the skill of “polyphonic playing”, once held in high esteem, a loss that makes itself felt not only in Bach, and not only in dense contrapuntal structures.’ He was discussing ‘Bach and ...


Frank Kermode: Being in New York, 7 July 1983

... to keep us at it. Of course, the city affords more refined and elegant pleasures. May was Alfred Brendel month: he played his Beethoven sonata cycle in seven recitals spread over about three weeks. I was at the first and the last. In between, despite the habitual coolness of some reviewers, there had evidently been a triumph, and for the seventh ...

A Single Crash of the Cymbals

Roger Parker, 7 December 1989

Franz Liszt. Vol. II: The Weimar Years 1848-1861 
by Alan Walker.
Faber, 626 pp., £35, August 1989, 0 571 15322 4
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Franz Liszt: A Chronicle of his Life in Pictures and Documents 
by Ernst Burger, translated by Stewart Spencer.
Princeton, 358 pp., £45, October 1989, 0 691 09133 1
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... Spencer) are well chosen to illustrate the man and his aesthetic attitudes. The goal of the book, Alfred Brendel says in his Foreword, is to allow readers ‘to paint their own portrait of Liszt’. It is, of course, an illusory goal, since no amount of raw historical information can sidestep the necessity for critical historical judgment. But no ...

This Charming Man

Frank Kermode, 24 February 1994

The Collected and Recollected Marc 
Fourth Estate, 51 pp., £25, November 1993, 1 85702 164 9Show More
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... Baker, David Mellor, Alan Bennett. There are a few outers: Jonathan Miller, Stephen Spender, Alfred Brendel, Melvyn Bragg – but even in these he is good on the hair, which, according to Craig Brown, was what he always homed in on. Rosemary Sayigh, Boxer’s sister, provides the most intimate of the recollections. In 1931, when Mark was born, the ...

On and off the page

Thomas Nagel, 25 July 1991

Isaiah Berlin: A Celebration 
by Edna Margalit and Avishai Margalit.
Hogarth, 224 pp., £25, June 1991, 0 7012 0925 9
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... with him. Of the 14 essays and one poem (by Stephen Spender) three have previously been published. Alfred Brendel writes about humour in music, Francis Haskell on controversies about the transition from Late Roman to Early Christian art; Bernard Williams, in a wonderful and unsummarisable essay called ‘Naive and Sentimental Opera Lovers’, writes about ...

Off the edge

Frank Kermode, 7 November 1991

Musical Elaborations 
by Edward Said.
Chatto, 128 pp., £20, October 1991, 0 7011 3809 2
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... There is, in the final lecture, a fascinating account of what it was like to listen to Alfred Brendel playing the Brahms Piano Variations, Op. 18, a work he had not known, though he at once realised its connection with the String Sextet in B flat. He subtly distinguishes between that experience, and the experience of listening, in the same ...

On the Blower

Peter Clarke: The Journals of Woodrow Wyatt, 18 February 1999

The Journals of Woodrow Wyatt: Volume I 
edited by Sarah Curtis.
Macmillan, 748 pp., £25, November 1998, 0 333 74166 8
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... foibles and frailties. At dinner one night this philistine meets ‘the wife of a famous pianist (Alfred Brendel): she is surprised I have never heard of him’. Nor, on first encounter, has the man who knows everybody heard of Tony O’Reilly, either as an Irish wing-threequarter or in his later position as head of the Heinz organisation. Yet when ...

A Kind of Slither

Michael Wood: Woody Allen, 27 April 2000

The Unruly Life of Woody Allen 
by Marion Meade.
Weidenfeld, 384 pp., £20, February 2000, 0 297 81868 6
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... at us? Or telling us nothing, having decided to take the money and run? There’s a poem by Alfred Brendel in which a woman asks him if he is Woody Allen. He says he’s Charlemagne, but the woman doesn’t believe him. Marion Meade tells a similar story about Allen himself. Someone she calls ‘an elderly dowager’ asks him if he is Woody ...

In the Chair

Edward Said, 17 July 1997

Glenn Gould: The Ecstasy and the Tragedy of Genius 
by Peter Ostwald.
Norton, 368 pp., $29.95, May 1997, 0 393 04077 1
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When the Music Stops: Managers, Maestros and the Corporate Murder of Classical Music 
by Norman Lebrecht.
Simon and Schuster, 400 pp., £7.99, July 1997, 0 671 01025 5
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... the Well-Tempered Clavier, most of the Art of Fugue – became almost the core of the repertoire. Brendel, Pollini, Barenboim and Martha Ageriach were consolidating their presence at the same time but none of them had a common border with Gould’s Bach. It was as if he had re-invented the idea of what it meant to be a pianist, but had done it in such a way ...

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