Alfred Brendel is one of the most important performers of the twentieth century. Among his piano teachers were Edwin Fischer, Paul Baumgartner, and Eduard Steuermann. He has had an extraordinary international career, focusing for 60 years on interpreting the music of central European composers from Bach to Schoenberg as well as many works by Franz Liszt. He was the first pianist to record the complete piano music of Ludwig van Beethoven, and he was largely responsible for Schubert’s piano sonatas and Schoenberg’s Piano Concerto having become a part of the standard piano repertoire. He has given concerts regularly at musical centres and festivals around the world with leading orchestras and conductors, and his extensive discography makes him one of today’s most distinguished artists. He brought his career as a concert soloist to a close on 18 December 2008 with the Vienna Philharmonic, and the British newspaper Daily Telegraph included the concert among the 100 most important cultural events of the past decade. Alfred Brendel’s focus and exceptional breadth and depth place him alongside such legendary interpreters of the Classical repertoire as Arthur Schnabel and Edwin Fischer. At the same time, he has been an important link in the great lineage passed on directly from Beethoven (Ludwig van Beethoven – Carl Czerny – Franz Liszt – Martin Krause – Edwin Fischer – Alfred Brendel). In 2016 the Decca label issued a complete set of all of Brendel’s published recordings, numbering an incredible 114 CDs.
Alfred Brendel has received honorary doctorates from many universities including Oxford and Yale, and in 1989 he was made an Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In 1992 the Berlin Philharmonic awarded him the Hans von Bülow Medal, and the Vienna Philharmonic made him an honorary member in December 1998. In 2001 he received a MIDEM Lifetime Achievement Award for the classical music category in Cannes, an Edison Award in the Netherlands, and the prestigious “Beethoven Ring” from the University of Music and the Performing Arts in Vienna. He has been honoured with the Léonie Sonning Prize, the Robert Schumann Prize, the prize for classical music performers at the South Bank Show Awards (2002), the Ernst von Siemens Prize (2004), the Prix Venezia: Premio Artur Rubinstein (2007), the Karajan Prize (2008), the Praemium Imperiale from Tokyo, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the music journal Gramophone (2010).
Besides music, Alfred Brendel also has a keen interest in literature. He has published two books of essays – Musical Thoughts and Afterthoughts and Music Sounded Out. For the latter he won a Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award in 1990. 2015 saw the publication of a collection of his complete essays and lectures titled Music, Sense and Nonsense. He has also published three volumes of poetry in German, followed by another collection of poems titled Spiegelbild und schwarzer Spuk and many poems translated into French, Italian, and Dutch. Faber has published two volumes of his poetry with the titles One Finger too Many and Cursing Bagels. There is a widely available bilingual edition of his collected poetry (published by Phaidon Press in 2010 with the title Playing the Human Game). A book of interviews with Martin Meyer appeared in 2001; the title of the 2002 English version is The Veil of Order. Alfred Brendel continues to lecture, recite poetry, and teach master classes at the festivals in Salzburg and Verbier, at Vienna’s Musikverein and Konzerthaus, at London’s Wigmore Hall, and at the universities and concert halls of Germany’s and Europe’s most important cities. He teaches at the Cité de la Musique in Paris and as a guest professor at Cambridge. In North America he teaches at the Julliard School, New York University, Berkeley, McGill University in Montreal, Princeton, and Yale.
Yun-Peng Zhao violin
Constance Ronzatti violin
Franck Chevalier viola
Pierre Morlet violoncello
The Quatuor Diotima is one of the most in-demand chamber ensembles in the world today. It was formed in 1996 by graduates of the Paris National Conservatory.
The quartet’s name evokes a double musical significance: Diotima is at once an allegory of German romanticism – Friederich Hölderlin gives the name to the love of his life in his novel Hyperion- and a rallying cry for the music of our time, brandished by Luigi Nono in his composition Fragmente-Stille, an Diotima.
The Quatuor Diotima has worked in close collaboration with several of the greatest composers of the late twentieth century, notably Pierre Boulez (who revised his Livre pour Quatuor for them) and Helmut Lachenmann. The quartet regularly commissions new works from the most brilliant composers of our time, including Toshio Hosokawa, Miroslav Srnka, Alberto Posadas, Mauro Lanza, Gérard Pesson, Rebecca Saunders and Tristan Murail.
Reflected in the mirror of today’s music, the quartet projects a new light onto the masterpieces of the 19th and 20th centuries, especially Beethoven, Schubert, the Second Viennese School (Schoenberg, Berg and Webern), as well as Janáček, Debussy, Ravel and Bartók.
In the quartet’s rich discography one finds, notably, their interpretations of the Second Viennese School and the definitive version of the Livre pour Quatuor by Pierre Boulez (on Megadisc). Their recordings are regularly praised and awarded by the international musical press: French magazine Diapason’s Diapason d’Or (five awards including two Best of the Year), Classica (Best of the Year), Télérama, Grammophone (Editor’s Choice), The Strad, and many others.
The Quatuor Diotima has recorded exclusively for the Naïve label for ten years; in 2016 they launched their Diotima Collection for that label, devoted to the works of major composers of our time. The first releases in the collection, devoted to Miroslav Srnka and Alberto Posadas, are to be followed with musical portraits of Gérard Pesson, Enno Poppe and Stefano Gervasoni.
Since 2008 The Quatuor Diotima has had a privileged relationship with the Région Centre-Val de Loire, which hosts the quartet in residence. This relationship is also an important laboratory for artistic and pedagogical projects. The Quatuor Diotima has developed a series of quartet concerts in Orléans that brings together a new generation of quartets with established ensembles. At the l’Abbaye de Noirlac, the quartet hosts and teaches master-classes that bring together young composers and quartets from around the world.
The Quatuor Diotima appears regularly in the world’s finest halls and concert series. They will perform this season in renowned chamber music series (Schubertiade in Schwarzenberg, Opéra de Montpellier, Printemps des Arts de Monte Carlo, Pierre-Boulez Saal in Berlin) as well as those devoted to premiers and contemporary music (Musica in Strasbourg, Présences in Paris, Ultrashall in Berlin). Alfred Brendel has invited the quartet to Prague to play Bartók’s complete quartet cycle, an exceptional project that they will also present on tour in Colombia, in China and in Taïwan. Their recording of the cycle will appear on Naïve in January, 2019.
New works to be premiered this season include those by Jean-Luc Hervé, Philippe Hurel, Silvan Eldar and Francesca Verunelli.
The Quatuor Diotima has also been invited by the University of York for a series of concerts, chamber music master classes, and to work with student composers. In early 2019 they will also renew their residence at the prestigious Wissenschaftskolleg (WiKo) of Berlin.
Autumn of 2018 marks the beginning for the quartet of a three-year residence as invited artists at Radio France in Paris. During the residence period they will perform their habitual repertoire, but will also work with guest musicians in chamber music and rare works for quartet and orchestra, as well as several commissioned works in partnership with other concert series and European radio services.
The Diotima Quartet is supported by the DRAC and the Région Centre-Val de Loire, and regularly receives assistance from the Institut Français, Spedidam, Musique Nouvelle en Liberté, Fonds pour la Création musicale and from Adami, as well as from private sponsors.018 Diotima Quartet has been awarded the European Cultural Heritage Award by the French Ministry of Culture.