Czech-born pianist, of Austrian, German, and Italian lineage, resident in Britain since 1972. He received an honorary knighthood in 1989.
As a child Brendel studied in Zagreb and Graz; later he was taught principally by Edwin Fischer (1886–1960) but also by Eduard Steuermann (1892–1964). In 1948 he made his debut and the following year started his international career by winning the Busoni Competition in Bolzano; since then he has been in constant demand for solo recitals and concerto concerts, playing with the world's greatest orchestras and conductors. Brendel's repertoire is large and varied, ranging from Bach to the Second Viennese School but with emphasis on Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert, whose sonatas he has brought out of limbo. His playing is characterized by a deeply penetrating intellectuality, intense enthusiasm, impeccable technique, and the ability to keep both the architectural scope of a work and its minutest details in balance; an example of this is his reading of Liszt's B minor sonata. In recent years he has also published several volumes of poetry.