October 16, 2009

Famed Pianist and Writer Alfred Brendel to be in Residence at NEC, November 4–6

Will Give Lecture-Demonstration "On Character in Music"

To Be Awarded Honorary Doctorate at Philharmonia Concert, Nov. 4

"If I belong to a tradition it is a tradition that makes the masterpiece tell the performer what he should do and not the performer telling the piece what it should be like, or the composer what he ought to have composed."—Alfred Brendel

The renowned pianist and writer Alfred Brendel will come to New England Conservatory for a three-day residency, Nov. 4—6 where he will give a lecture, lead a public masterclass, and receive an honorary doctorate.

After a 60-year career that took him to venues around the world, Brendel retired from the concert stage at the end of 2008. However, he has been eager to pass along a lifetime of accumulated musical wisdom to students and music lovers. He will dispense some of that knowledge in a lecture-demonstration On Character in Music, Wednesday, Nov. 4 at 4 p.m. in NEC's Jordan Hall. Later that evening, he will receive an honorary doctorate during the performance of NEC's Philharmonia at 8 p.m. in Jordan Hall.

On Thursday, Nov. 5, Brendel will conduct a public masterclass with NEC piano students at 7:30 p.m. in Jordan Hall.  And on Friday morning, Nov. 6, he will be the featured speaker in NEC's Piano Seminar at 10 a.m. in Williams Hall.

"When I was young my overall career wasn't sensational at all, it rather progressed step by step. But then, one day I was performing a Beethoven programme in the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. It was quite an unpopular programme, I didn't even like it much myself and the next day I got three offers from record companies. It seemed really rather grotesque, like a slow, hardly noticeable rise on a thermometer or a kettle warming water suddenly beginning to boil and to bubble and the steam comes out."—Alfred Brendel

The author of several books, including two volumes of collected articles and lectures and two volumes of absurdist poetry (One Finger Too Many and Cursing Bagels), Brendel has been devoting an increasing amount of his time—even before his retirement from performing—to poetry readings and lectures. His Nov. 4 lecture "sets out to show that in musical performances the perception of character and atmosphere is no less important than that of form and structure. The belief that the structure of a work automatically reveals its character is a fallacy...The pianist's task becomes related to that of a character actor identifying with different roles, with an ever widening awareness of the staggering emotional and psychological variety great music has to offer." The pianist will illustrate his points with examples at the piano.

The Coughers of Cologne
have joined forces with Cologne Clappers
and established the Cough and Clap Society
a non-profit-making organization
whose aim it is
to guarantee each concertgoer's right
to cough and applaud.. –Alfred Brendel from One Finger Too Many

All events are free and open to the public. Alfred Brendel's residency at NEC is funded through the generosity of Carol T. and Robert P. Henderson.

Read about Alfred Brendel and his life in retirement at this Times Online Interview
For further information on the residency, check the NEC Website or call the NEC Concert Line at 617-585-1122.  NEC’s Jordan Hall, Brown Hall, Williams Hall and the Keller Room are located at 30 Gainsborough St., corner of Huntington Ave. St. Botolph Hall is located at 241 St. Botolph St. between Gainsborough and Mass Ave.


Recognized nationally and internationally as a leader among music schools, New England Conservatory offers rigorous training in an intimate, nurturing community to 720 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral music students from around the world. Its faculty of 225 boasts internationally esteemed artist-teachers and scholars. Its alumni go on to fill orchestra chairs, concert hall stages, jazz clubs, recording studios, and arts management positions worldwide. Nearly half of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is composed of NEC trained musicians and faculty.

The oldest independent school of music in the United States, NEC was founded in 1867 by Eben Tourjee. Its curriculum is remarkable for its wide range of styles and traditions. On the college level, it features training in classical, jazz, Contemporary Improvisation, world and early music. Through its Preparatory School, School of Continuing Education, and Community Collaboration Programs, it provides training and performance opportunities for children, pre-college students, adults, and seniors. Through its outreach projects, it allows young musicians to engage with non-traditional audiences in schools, hospitals, and nursing homes—thereby bringing pleasure to new listeners and enlarging the universe for classical music and jazz.

NEC presents more than 600 free concerts each year, many of them in Jordan Hall, its world- renowned, 106-year old, beautifully restored concert hall. These programs range from solo recitals to chamber music to orchestral programs to jazz and opera scenes. Every year, NEC’s opera studies department also presents two fully staged opera productions at the Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston.

NEC is co-founder and educational partner of From the Top, a weekly radio program that celebrates outstanding young classical musicians from the entire country. With its broadcast home in Jordan Hall, the show is now carried by National Public Radio and is heard on 250 stations throughout the United States.