“Mr. Chopin and Mr. Brahms”

Père kisses my cheek, pats my shoulder, and sends me inside to settle myself with Mr. Chopin and Mr. Brahms.

Chapter 6: Photo shoot

I took piano lessons for just two years, at the North York satellite campus of the Royal Conservatory of Music. It was a pokey little set of rooms over a store on Yonge Street, and students had to sit in the hallway on hard chairs waiting our turn. I loved it – sitting there in the poorly lit hallway, clutching my official Conservatory music.

One evening, as I sat waiting for Miss Reuter to open the door to her studio, this wild music floated out into the hallway from the room belonging to the other teacher. It was spectacular, loud, pounding, complex. I loved it!

Miss Reuter appeared at the door of her studio at the end of lesson before mine. She cocked her head, listened for a moment, and said: “Ah, Mr. Liszt.”

For a long time, I thought Mr. Liszt was the name of the other piano teacher. When I did finally discover the truth – Franz Liszt was long gone from the earth, and that was just Mr. What’s-his-name, practising – it was a revelation. I loved that she addressed this grand master of the piano so politely, even though he was no longer alive: Ah, Mr. Liszt.

For Imogen, guided by the ever-polite Père, these musical greats are real and deserve respect: Mr. Chopin and Mr. Brahms.

Listen to the amazing Anna Fedorova perform (another of my own favourites) Johannes Brahms’ Intermezzo in A major, Op. 118, No. 2