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

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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

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

toggle 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

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

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
Chopin: Nocturnes
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

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

Brendel plays with a warm yet carefully calibrated grace.

YouTube

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Song
Schubert: Impromptus
Album
Schubert: Impromptus
Artist
Alfred Brendel
Label
Philips Classics

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

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

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

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

YouTube

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Song
Claude Debussy: Préludes, Vol. 1; Images
Album
Claude Debussy: Préludes, Vol. 1; Images
Artist
Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
Label
Deutsche Grammophon

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