Fur Elise

Glenn Gould

by Jean Chatson Parks

My piano lesson was over. I paid my teacher Miss Jones $1.50 for my lesson, picked up my piano books, said goodbye and left her house. I walked down Phillip street thinking about Fur Elise a piece of music by Beethoven that I had been working on. I thought that I had played it well at my lesson. I needed to correct my fingering on a passage and it would be as smooth as silk. I turned the corner onto the main street and started for home still lost in the music of Fur Elise.

It was a beautiful Fall night that only Muskoka could deliver. The tourist had left and the sleepy little town once more belonged to us. The beauty of the warm night was everywhere. The clean Muskoka air had a hint of burning leaves wafting through it. The street lights were on, along with the bright store windows, a golden amber glow lite up the main street. It was supper time and the streets were empty. No cars, no people, no noise, no movement anywhere. How still it was.

I have one more block to go before I turn onto the street where I live. Then I noticed a young man emerge from a restaurant across the street from me. We glanced at each other just to acknowledge that there was another human being on the street that night. He passed by me, I stopped and watched him as he walked away. He was dressed in a black suite, black top coat and he wore black shiny patent leather shoes. The shoes told me who he was! No one in our town wore black patent leather shoes. Not even the Undertaker!

There was to be a concert tonight in the opera house given by a professional concert pianist. His name was Glenn Gould. The newspapers and posters had told of his concert. But I could not afford the price of a ticket. I had to scrape up change to pay for my piano lesson.

The newspaper said that he was a child prodigy (could play the piano at three years of age) Had graduated from the Conservatory of Music at age twelve. He was considered to be a genius. Tonight’s concert in the opera house was one of his first concerts in his professional life.

He is stopping now to look into the windows of the Soskins store. The window display at Soskins is always a feast for the eyes. Beautiful wool sweaters, fox fur hats, leather gloves and boots. The display always seems to say “Welcome to the Canadian North Country.”

How young he looks. Why he has to be about my age.

I wonder if he played Fur Elise? Of course, he did. All students play Fur Elise. Only he probably played it at age five.

I wonder what grand music he will be playing tonight. Is he thinking about that music right now?

So, this what a genius looks like! Quite ordinary, I thought.

I watch him as he leaves the store window, walks past the library and turns into the opera house.

Supper is waiting for me, So I cross the street at the Bank corner and hurry home. Pondering my moment in time with Glen Gould.

While Fur Elise played on in my head.

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