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The 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 notion of character appears in 18th-century treatises on interpretation as well as in writing on aesthetics where it is first discussed at the time when Beethoven’s sonatas begin to appear. Czerny’s comments on Beethoven’s piano works are full of references to character. 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. Mr. Brendel will play a number of musical examples during the lecture.

Alfred Brendel’s place among the greatest musicians of the 20th and 21st centuries is assured. Renowned for his masterly interpretations of the works of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, and Liszt, he is one of the indisputable authorities in musical life today and one of the very few living pianists whose name alone guarantees a sell-out anywhere in the world he chooses to play.