Search among the staves
the bars of notes black with speed;
these were not difficult readings,
eye swallowing swathes of them,
fingerpads serene in fortissimo roar.
Old war horse, E major cavalry charge:
the plangency of octaves
that springs them to their feet
gravels the finger bones.
So soon the astonishments are over.
You never performed it.
Now the score refuses you
the passing of your thumbs;
joints of the arthritic heart
give freeway to pain.
It is almost a relief, stopping
the freedom of translating hands,
it is almost a signal
that the leveling nerves of
your calling have changed.
The Chopin Etudes started whatever technique I once owned (how to explain early mind-hand velocity?) Even the acid-green-covered Kalmus edition, with its torrents of notes, was a source of wonder to a boy in Timmins. In their day these miniature symphonic poems irradiated the piano’s voice; in my own day they became my repertoire’s center.
Chopin - Etude Op. 25, #11
Haydn: Gypsy Rondo
My other company of friends – former students become outstanding professionals in their own right. Here are those that have kept up with me, with a special thank you to Tomson Highway, who wrote the nominating letter to my Order of Canada. Listen to them all.