It is impossible to sum up in words everything that Christine meant and continues to mean to me. As a small expression of this, I organised, along with several other pupils, a concert in her memory in March 2012. 13 of her pupils played, ranging from the age of 9 to 73, to an audience of several hundred.
Probably the greatest thing I can do in her memory is to continue playing music and passing on as much of her teaching as I can. The last time I saw her, I didn’t know it would be the last time, but in retrospect I realised that she knew; I suppose those close to death have a clearer vision of these things. We listened to a recording of me performing the Ballade no. 3 by Chopin, which she chose out of all the recordings I had brought with me to the hospice. As she walked me out she said,
“Thank you for putting that lovely tune back in my head!” and then she said “You’ll be playing the piano for the rest of your life, won’t you.”
I thought it was an extraordinary question as the answer was so obviously yes, but then I thought about how few people actually continue performing on the piano when it isn’t their full time job. Christine was always very tickled by and proud of the fact that I was a mathematician and a pianist. I still marvel at the fact that my continuing to play the piano was something that could give her such joy all the way to her death. But that’s how she was – when her performing career was cut short, she was utterly dedicated to her pupils.
She kissed me goodbye with so much love; I have never seen so much love inscribed on anyone’s face.
Her influence on me was so valuable and important that I dedicated my first book, “How to Bake Pi” to her memory.