Happy Birthday, Mr. Pollini — And Mr. Brendel (And You, Mr. Michelangeli!)

The Italian pianist Maurizio Pollini, captured in a 1968 portrait. He turns 70 years old today. i i

The Italian pianist Maurizio Pollini, captured in a 1968 portrait. He turns 70 years old today. Erich Auerbach/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Erich Auerbach/Getty Images
The Italian pianist Maurizio Pollini, captured in a 1968 portrait. He turns 70 years old today.

The Italian pianist Maurizio Pollini, captured in a 1968 portrait. He turns 70 years old today.

Erich Auerbach/Getty Images

There must be something pianistically felicitous about the 5th of January, because today not only marks Maurizio Pollini's 70th birthday, but it's also Alfred Brendel's 81st. And it would have been Arturo Benedetto Michelangeli's 92nd birthday today had he not passed away in 1995.

To celebrate all that virtuosity, here are three video clips that embody the artistry of these keyboard titans.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Pollini — And Mr. Brendel (And You Too, Mr. Michelangeli)

Cover for Chopin: Nocturnes

Maurizio Pollini: Chopin, Nocturne Nocturne No.8, Op.27 No.2

  • Artist: Maurizio Pollini
  • Album: Chopin: Nocturnes
  • Song: No. 2 in D flat major. Lento sostenuto

This live performance is a bit controversial due to Pollini's fleet pace, but his lean directness is just what his acolytes crave.

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Song
No. 2 in D flat major. Lento sostenuto
Album
Chopin: Nocturnes
Artist
Maurizio Pollini
Label
Universal Distribution
Released
2005

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Cover for Schubert: Impromptus

Alfred Brendel: Schubert, Impromptu, Op. 90, No. 3

  • Artist: Alfred Brendel
  • Album: Schubert: Impromptus
  • Song: Impromptus (4) for piano, D. 899 (Op. 90) [No. 3 in G Flat]

Brendel plays with a warm yet carefully calibrated grace.

Purchase Featured Music

Song
Impromptus (4) for piano, D. 899 (Op. 90) [No. 3 in G Flat]
Album
Schubert: Impromptus
Artist
Alfred Brendel
Label
Philips Classics

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YouTube
Cover for Claude Debussy: Préludes, Vol. 1; Images

Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli: Debussy, 'Reflets Dans L'Eau'

  • Artist: Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
  • Album: Claude Debussy: Préludes, Vol. 1; Images
  • Song: Images (3), for piano, Set I, L. 110 [I. Reflets dans l'eau]

Michelangeli brings cool ripples of water and light to this poetic first section of Debussy's two-volume Images.

Purchase Featured Music

Song
Images (3), for piano, Set I, L. 110 [I. Reflets dans l'eau]
Album
Claude Debussy: Préludes, Vol. 1; Images
Artist
Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
Label
Deutsche Grammophon

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

YouTube

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