For 50 years, Daniel Mergler
gently taught hundreds and hundreds of Montreal children how to play the piano. Day in and day out, decade after decade, one by one, the kids trooped into his bachelor basement apartment in Notre Dame de Grace.
They wove their way around the piles of books and sheet music, sat down at the keyboard and gamely worked through their finger-stretching exercises. A plaster bust of Beethoven on top of the piano surveyed the proceedings. Some students stayed for years. Others found out that if they weren't ready to practice, they had better find something else to do.
Mr. Mergler took his music seriously. Then in 2003, his teaching came to an end. His colon cancer had spread. He moved into the palliative care ward at Montreal's Jewish General Hospital. And there, he found himself sustained and comforted by his connection to a nine-year-old Chinese immigrant girl. He had met her and her father by chance in a Montreal park, a year earlier. Xin Ben became Daniel Mergler's student. The relationship changed both their lives.
This morning, we're going to re-broadcast David Gutnick's feature documentary - the first one he ever produced for this program.
It's called "Beethoven's Bust".