User comments on Mr Mergler's Gift
Alexandra (Sacha) Patera
Dear Beverly Shaffer,
I have not yet seen your film "Mr. Mergler's Gift". Fortunately I count myself among many of Mr. Mergler's students who received his gift. I studied the piano with Mr. Mergler every Friday evening for nearly ten years until I started University. I learned so much more than music from Mr. Mergler. He had a most profound impact on my life. I miss him. Thank you for making a film about him. I am sure he would be so pleased.
-Alexandra (Sacha) Patera
When my late husband Marvin Duchow was a very young man, studying for his bachelor of music at McGill Conservatory, he became the private teacher of the two young Mergler children, Daniel, and his older brother Leo. Daniel became a music teacher in Montreal, and Leo, after returning from volunteering in the Spanish Civil War, became a psychiatrist.
I had known Daniel for quite a number of years and sometimes we met walking in the neighbourhood and we would stop to chat. Years passed and he never seemed to age - he never spoke of his illness. It was a terrible shock to learn of his death. Recently, I had the great pleasure of attending the launch of the remarkable documentary MR. MERGLER'S GIFT at the Montreal World Film Festival. The film tells the story of a dedicated special piano teacher, Mr Mergler, his chance meeting at a park bench with Xin Ben Yu whose intuitive musical gifts produce an artistry beyond her youthful years.
Sadly, Daniel Mergler is no longer here, but he will be loved and remembered by many. The Foundation established for scholarships in his name will continue his legacy at the McGill Conservatory of Music.
All best wishes to Xin Ben for continuing growth in her chosen field of music, and all best wishes to her parents.
Rebecca Duchow, 85 years old
Wife of the late Marvin Duchow, Dean of the Faculty of Music at McGill University
I had lost touch with Daniel as his health got worse.
But he was to me both a friend and spiritual mentor during very hard times in my life (specially after my mother passed away). We met in 1996, when I was working and studying during my first year of university.
An interesting and deep friendship developed between us, and lasted for a few years. I sometimes wonder why he came to my life when I really needed strong moral support: growing up as a young woman in this society, coping with school and work for the first time, etc. etc.
But the conclusion I came to is the following:
God has his little angels ready for us when we most need. And so Daniel was one of those angels in my life who guided me through a very decisive period of my life, where my future was starting to shape itself. This was a blessing for me!
It is clear to me: his spirit is still strong among us.
Hope the comments section in the web-site grows with people sharing their own unique experiences with Daniel. And hope as well that Xin-Ben grows into a beautiful pianist who can pass on her talent to others, or help others discover that hidden artistic talent.
If I can be of any further assistance please let me know. I'll gladly share what I know of Daniel and his passion for music.
What a beautiful movie! How lovely it was to see Xin-Ben, Mr Mergler's last pupil. And how sad it was to me to see Daniel's face in his last moments...... But somehow(after crying and sobbing!) I felt this inner peace with myself, for at least I had a last image of him and I could hear his voice. Like always, warm words of wisdom about his love and passion for music. Indeed, this is Daniel Mergler.
Dear Beverly Shaffer:
As a past student of Mr. Daniel Mergler, I made it a point to see the movie you directed at the festival last week ( I was in town from Toronto and extended my visit in order to see it). And, I wanted to express to you how touched and moved I was by it. The film not only captured the story between him and his last student beautifully, it captured the beauty in him equally well. On behalf of all his ex-students who felt so honoured to have met him and to have shared the love of music with him, I thank you for taking the time and effort to bring this story and his essence to the screen.
"Mr. Mergler's Gift" is outstanding and beautiful documentary,
it shows Mr. Mergler in his last days of life.
It brought back many memories of this sensitive and gentle person, whom I had the privilege to know for over quarter century. He was the piano teacher of my sons, and for years after they went to study out of town he stayed in touch, always taking interest in their lives He lived in my neighborhood, and I would see him often in the park, in his favorite delicatessen, or walking on the street. He would stop and ask me about my boys, my job, and talk about how impressed he was with some of his students. He lived modestly all his life, never striving for material possessions.
Thanks Beverly for the wonderful and moving film, about the real Mr. Mergler, not afraid to die, devoted to his students to the lat moment of his life. On his deathbed he is finding a new teacher for Xin Ben, his last and most gifted student, making sure that it is not just a teacher, but the best in Montreal.
In this time of wars, suicide bombers, terrorism, and cruelty you made a remarkable movie, wonderful cinematography, that shows that humanity is still alive, and that music and beauty are still with us.
Dear Xin Ben,
When I was 8 years old Mr. Mergler sought me out of a class of 30 and told me I had the gift of music. Thirty years later we still remained friends and he heard my son play piano. His words of wisdom and love of music have remained with me and my family to this day. My children will pass this on to their children- His legacy lives on.
Mara Merija Kloth
Dear Xin Ben,
Forty years ago I was blessed to meet and know the wonderful friendship of Danny Mergler. We shared a love of music and beautiful things. What a joy and pleasure to meet his little "legacy". May you always hear beautiful sounds and the rendering of them enrich your soul and that of our listeners.
Bonne chance la petite.
Contact Beverly Shaffer