Historic concerts back in the U.S. this week – The Philadelphia Orchestra, guest conducted by James Levine and featuring Alfred Brendel as Piano soloist in a concert featuring two works: Beethoven: Piano Concerto Number 5 (Emperor) and Schubert’s Great C Major Symphony – all recorded for posterity on November 8, 1980.
For most of his career, James Levine has been known as an Opera conductor, because of his long association with The Metropolitan Opera (1976-2013), but prior to that, he was a star on the rise, guest conducting with many of the leading orchestras around the world. Something which he continued to do throughout even his opera career, and later when he was appoined Music Director of The Boston Symphony in 2003 which lasted until health issues persuaded his retirement from the orchestra in 2011.
This concert as guest conductor with the Philadelphia Orchestra was typical of his many appearances throughout the world during his career – splitting time between his duties with the Met and the concert hall.
Alfred Brendel has achieved many recognitions, not only as a world-class pianist, but also as a Poet and Author. He began his career after World War 2 with his first public recital at 17. Later, in 1949 he won 4th Prize in the Busoni International Piano Competition and it began his almost non-stop concertizing throughout the world, eventually leading to his first commercial recordings in 1952 – the first commercial recording of Liszt’s Weihnachtsbaum, which brought him considerable critical attention. He then went on to establish a long and extensive recording career which included, among many others, the complete Piano Concertos of Mozart as well as several recordings of the complete Beethoven Piano concertos.
A world class pairing with a world class orchestra, broadcast some 37 years ago.