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Alfred Brendel to retire next year

The pianist Alfred Brendel will retire from the concert stage next year.

The Austrian native, who turns 77 in January, will give his last concert on Dec. 18, 2008, in Vienna.

Brendel, who is also a poet, will continue to appear in public to lecture on music and to give poetry readings, his New York publicist Josephine Hemsing said this week.

"He is playing at the peak of his form. He's in perfect health and he would like to go out at the top of his playing form," she said, confirming a report in the Chicago Tribune. She said Brendel was not available for comment because he was touring in Europe.

Brendel's final North American engagements will be in February and March, with performances in New York, Boston, Montreal, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Chicago and Pittsburgh. He doesn't consider it a farewell tour, however.

"He dislikes the idea of farewell tours and concerts and prefers just to stop," Hemsing said in a statement.

His final concert will be with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, a few weeks before he turns 78. He will perform Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 9, known as the "Jeunehomme" ("Young Man").