“Alfred Brendel, one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century, is also a great writer,” writes Nicholas Cannariato in Tuesday’s (8/14) Atlantic. “His writing, always engaging, strikes a balance between solemn reflection and undeniable wit.… A perfect example … can be found in his 1985 essay ‘A Mozart Player Gives Himself Advice,’ in which Brendel … writes that ‘the cute Mozart, the perfumed Mozart, the permanently ecstatic Mozart, the “touch-me-not” Mozart, the sentimentally bloated Mozart must all be avoided.’ … Now retired from the concert stage, Brendel, 87, has written extensively throughout his life on his approach to interpretation and performance…. He’s also published many books on music…. The essays and lectures of each of those books (plus several previously uncollected works) are gathered in Music, Sense, and Nonsense: Collected Essays and Lectures, now being released in paperback. In these essays and lectures, Brendel considers sound, silence, sublimity, humor, and the performer’s critical role in the experience of music…. In ‘Must Classical Music Be Entirely Serious?’ Brendel considers humor in what, to many, might seem like the least funny music imaginable. So Mozart was funny, sure, but what about Beethoven and Haydn? Yes, them too.”

Posted August 16, 2018