A Piano Lover’s Reader

A Piano Lover’s Reader

A Pianist’s A–Z: A Piano Lover’s Reader

by Alfred Brendel with Michael Morley

Faber & Faber, $29.99 hb, 125 pp, 9780571301843

The concert pianist Alfred Brendel is one of the leading twentieth-century interpreters of music, with a special interest in the German repertoire. When he retired in 2008 after six decades of performing, he did so not through loss of stamina, but because of crippling arthritis in his hands. Brendel continues, at eighty-three, to teach, lecture, and write. (His poetry collection, Playing the Human Game [2011] contains one of the most damning attacks on that well-known pest, the concert cougher.) A Pianist’s A–Z explores his personal relationship with the piano. It covers the classical repertoire, offering insights, asides, reflections, and the occasional and excruciatingly corny joke.

This slim volume is hardly intended to be anything other than a selection of choice vignettes. ‘A’ is straightforward enough and includes entries on Accents, Arrangements, and Artists. As the reader counts down the remainder of the alphabet, the associations become more obscure. You could skip the last three letters entirely. ‘X’ is devoted to a single entry for Canon X: Conlon Nancarrow’s music for player piano. ‘Y’ is given over to ‘Yuck’, as Brendel notes, ‘an exclamation of displeasure’; while ‘Z’ stands for Zvonimir, legendary king of the Croats, whose relationship to music, Brendel assures us, is ‘at best, peripheral’.

Read the rest of this article by purchasing a subscription to ABR Online, or subscribe to the print edition to receive access to ABR Online free of charge.

If you are a single issue subscriber you will need to upgrade your subscription to view back issues.

If you are already subscribed, click here to log in.

Published in October 2014 no. 365
Dina Ross

Dina Ross

Dina Ross is an award-winning playwright and commentator. Her latest play 'Six Ways to say Goodbye' is published by the Australian Script Centre.

More in this issue « Untitled Children of the Sun »

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to comments@australianbookreview.com.au. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.