William Aide

Pianist. Poet. Teacher.


Broken Octaves
heroic polonaise
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.
Innocent A flat Polonaise – my hands’ undoing. As a youngster, I tinkered with it; and now, in my 80th year, its octaves have stopped all bravura.

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.

Haydn’s Gypsy Rondo; as an elated 10 year old I played its solo version out of the old Toronto Conservatory grade 8 book. How fitting and circular that in my last public chamber music recital I should perform this waggish happy piece with Scott St. John and Shauna Rolston, partners in that skyscraper ensemble, The Rolscottade Trio.

Chopin loved the bel canto of fine singers—just listen to any nocturne. Nothing is more inspiriting than the human voice and I have had the great good fortune to play for our country’s best singers, beginning with Teresa Stratas and James Milligan. The “Schumann at Hart” recital with Lois Marshall was probably the high point of my performance life. Dichteliebe, Liederkries, Frauenliebe und Leben.

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.

Former Students

With Doug Finch and the Waldstein

I shall leave you with Mozart; K. 503 was my Toronto Symphony debut piece and the modest beginning of an exhilarating, profoundly Canadian career.

Mozart: K.503 - Allegretto - Toronto Symphony Orchestra

by William Aide, piano - Walter Susskind, conductor