By McGill Reporter staff
Alfred Brendel, widely considered one of the greatest classical musicians of the 20th and early 21st centuries, will receive an honorary doctorate from McGill on Saturday, Oct. 15.
Following the ceremony, Brendel will deliver the Beatty Memorial Lecture on the theme: “Does Classical Music Have to Be Entirely Serious?” He will illustrate his talk, to be delivered in the Schulich School of Music’s Pollack Hall, with passages on the piano – marking a rare appearance by this legendary musician in North America, nearly three years after he retired from the concert stage.
“As we celebrate the 190th anniversary of McGill’s founding, we are proud to award an honorary degree to one of the indisputable authorities in musical life today,” said McGill Principal and Vice-Chancellor Heather Munroe-Blum.
Brendel is recognized by audiences the world over for his extraordinary ability to communicate the emotional and intellectual depths of whatever music he performs. During his remarkable career, Brendel has performed and recorded an unparalleled repertoire for piano solo and orchestral works, ranging from Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Liszt, to Brahms and Schoenberg.
In earning his reputation as one of the most masterful and thoughtful interpreters of classical works, Brendel hewed to a belief that the performance should truly reflect the composer’s intentions. “If I belong to a tradition,” he said, “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.”
Brendel was born Jan. 5, 1931, in northern Moravia (now the Czech Republic).
Besides music, literature has remained Brendel’s foremost interest and second occupation. Two of his books of essays, Musical Thoughts and Afterthoughts and Music Sounded Out, have been enormously influential with musicians around the world. He has also published three collections of poems. His books have appeared in English andin German and have been translated into several other languages, including French.
Brendel has lived in London since 1971. He retired from the concert stage in Dec. 2008.