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A Grand Gesture

New scholarship will support students of classical piano

A classical music fan with no connection to U of T has left the Faculty of Music a bequest of more than $1 million – and a baby grand piano – to support students intending to pursue classical performance careers in piano or violin.

Alice Matheson, who died this fall at the age of 96, made the donation in honour of her late brother, Armen. An engineer by training, Armen was a talented pianist who, due to economic and social circumstances, had been unable to earn a living from music. “I always believed that he would have been much happier if he had been able to pursue a career as a concert pianist,” Matheson had said.

The funds will create an endowment to provide yearly scholarships for students of classical piano or orchestral strings. “In endowing scholarships in his name, I am helping students do what Armen would have loved to do,” said Matheson, who was not a musician herself but enjoyed gardening and watercolour painting at her west Toronto home.

Don Liddell, a neighbour and coexecutor of Matheson’s estate, says she set aside everything on Saturday afternoons to listen to classical music and opera on the radio. “She was not to be disturbed during that time,” says Liddell. He added that Matheson kept the baby grand piano covered and that no one had played it since her brother died of a coronary attack 40 years ago. “That piano was her pride and joy,” he says.

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